The Nanotechnology Revolution

David Tomanek
Professor of Physics
Michigan State University


The designation of nanotechnology as a key to economic success in the 21st century suggests that some of the most common paradigms of manufacturing will experience a fundamental change within the coming 10-20 years. I will discuss why a transition to nanotechnology is a desirable and necessary evolution, and why -- at the level of manufacturing -- a radical departure from conventional assembly techniques to self-assembly is unavoidable. The impact of the Nanotechnology Revolution we currently experience may only be comparable to that of the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century. Understanding and designing atomic-scale devices with a new functionality will demand a new set of skills, ranging from harnessing quantum phenomena to the ability to collaborate in teams comprising Physicists, Chemists, Molecular Biologists, and Engineers.

I will review progress in some of the most promising research areas, including nanotubes, nanomagnets, and nanoscale electromechanical systems (NEMS), in a non-specialist language. Examples of the unique behavior exhibited by nanostructured matter, in particular carbon nanotubes and fullerenes, will be presented together with the most likely ways they will impact our everyday lives in the near future. An attempt will be made to sketch a roadmap of nanotechnology research and applications world-wide, and to describe the current assessment in academia and industry about where we are now and which technological obstacles lie ahead. I will also try to address the time frame when we may expect nanotechnology to impact our everyday life significantly. Active participation of the audience will be welcomed.


David Tomanek is Professor of Physics at Michigan State University. A citizen of the U.S.A. and Switzerland, he pioneered research of nanostructures, specifically fullerenes and nanotubes, internationally during the last 20 years of his career. While holding a position as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Physics at the prestigious Seoul National University in 2002-2003, he taught a focused course on nanotechnology. His engagement in nanotechnology is witnessed in his list of scholarly publications, public seminars and lectures, patents, and conferences he organized. For more information, visit his home page on the web at or contact the speaker directly at