So what is the future for nanotechnology? The possibilities seem endless.
In the area of nanoelectronics and computer technology, nanotechnology will allow the construction of smaller circuits and computers. Smaller circuits will run faster enabling far greater computer speeds. New nanomaterials will mean that computers will have a much longer life. A laptop computer could therefore have its efficiency increased by millions living longer and working faster to give far better value for money.
For the environment and energy, nanotechnology will have a significant impact. For instance, nanometer sized solar cells could be developed to provide much of the energy needed around the world and nanomaterials will increase the efficiency of fuel cells and batteries. In the future nanotechnology will be used to tackle environmental problems. New 'green' processing technologies will minimise the generation of undesirable by-product effluents by curbing emissions.
In health care and medicine biological nanosensors are being developed in the next 5 years and will be used for fast and accurate diagnostics. Further ahead, nanotechnology may be used to build artificial muscle and 'lab on a chip' technology will develop more efficient drug discovery processes.
There are many other future applications of nanotechnology and more possibilities will come to light as it is developed further. Nanotechnology offers major opportunities for the UK economy and it is key that it is allowed to thrive, building upon the countries excellence in its science and technology base. Critics of nanotechnology insist that a strict regulatory system should be introduced to ensure risks are minimised and it is the government's responsibility to ensure that procedures are put in place to ensure that this happens.