bio + nano
Nano and bio sciences converge
Today, we have an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes in nature, right down to atomic level. We are starting to manipulate material and the building blocks of life on this miniscule scale.
The nanosciences make it possible to miniaturise technology to extreme levels and to manufacture products with atomic precision. Complex systems are becoming smaller and smaller, but there is still plenty of scope for even greater reduction: We have yet to arrive in the smallest of all worlds. The tiny components of the nanoworld are still much larger than single atoms or molecules. When will researchers be able to combine single atoms and molecules as the need arises?
The description of living systems is becoming increasingly detailed. Rapid technological development is allowing the entire molecular inventory of cells to be catalogued and many processes to be understood in detail. The molecular blueprint of many organisms has been decoded. The unmanageable quantities of data that result are presenting biologists with problems that they can solve only with the help of computer specialists and mathematicians: How do countless millions of molecules work together to create life?
Scientists want to be able to predict the behaviour of simple organisms in the future and to create bacteria with new properties, for instance. Nano-engineers are already finding inspiration in the elegant ideas of evolution. The boundaries between animate and inanimate nature are becoming blurred. Integrated circuits communicate with living cells and pass data to computers and vice versa. Programmable microorganisms recycle our waste and become the materials, energy and chemicals producers of the future.
The nanosciences and the biosciences are clearly converging at top speed. Synthetic biology is the new nanotechnology.