Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers. (nano.gov) Developments in this area started after invention of scanning tunneling microscope in 1981, concept of manipulating matter at nanoscale were developed earlier. Most people cite Feynman’s talk as a starting point, but there are objections.
Mihail C. Roco from Scientific American argued that nanotechnology will have four stages:
- development of passive nanostructures (started around 2000)
- active nanostructures that change their size, shape, conductivity or other properties during use. (started around 2005)
- systems of nanostructures (around 2010)
- molecular nanosystems (2015-2020)
(Kaewkamnerdpong et al. 2007) discuss Roco’s timeline and argue that computer science will be important in third and fourth stages:
To date, nanotechnology has been developed mostly from the basis in physics, chemistry, material science and biology. As nanotechnology is a truly multidisciplinary field, the cooperation between researchers in all related areas is crucial to the success of nanotechnology. Until now, computer science has taken a role mostly in research tools, for example: a virtual-reality system coupled to scanning probe devices in nanomanipulator project. However, according to M.C. Roco, the third and fourth generation of nanotechnology would rely heavily on research in computer science.
If you read the article you will notice that there is a reference to OR research topics: swarm intelligence, ant colony optimization, particle swarm optimization, evolutionary algorithms.
I looked at INFORMS annual conference websites and found out that there were nanotech related papers since 2003 and nanotech related sessions since 2007. Total number of related articles each year is as follows:
2003 – 2
2004 – 4
2005 – 7
2006 – 4
2007 – 11
2008 – 13
2009 – 19
2010 – 26
2011 – 28
2012 – 19 (application deadline is August 10, this number may change)
I hope interest of OR community will continue. How do you think OR can help to achieve the goal of systematic control of matter at nanoscale?
PS: If you are interested there is Nanomanufacturing summit (September 4-6 2012)
Photo by St Stev