Nanotechnology Project


Dreaming of a Nanotech Christmas

Tuesday, December 5, 2006 • 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

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What Persuades the Public to Embrace and Buy Nanotechnology?

Will parents put an iPod Nano or Head® Nano Titanium tennis racket under the Christmas tree for their children this year? Will holiday revelers hang a Nano-Infinity stocking on their fireplace mantle for Santa Claus to fill? Just what does compel shoppers to buy—or to avoid—nanotechnology products?

With over 350 manufacturer-identified nanotechnology consumer products available for purchase this gift-giving season (see:, and with $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods incorporating nanotechnology expected by 2014, there is a lot at stake in how these questions are answered.

The results of the first large-scale empirical study of how consumers consider risks and benefits when deciding whether to purchase or use specific nanotechnology products will appear in the December 2006 issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The article’s lead author, Steven Curall, University College London and London Business School, and a co-author, Neal Lane, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and former US Presidential Science Advisor, will present their findings at this meeting at the Woodrow Wilson Center. They will discuss how public perceptions of nanotechnology are being shaped, and compare the experience of the emergence of nanotechnology to the experience of past emerging technologies.


Steven C. Currall, Professor in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences at University College London ; Visiting Professor at London Business School. Dr. Currall, formerly a professor at Rice, is Professor of Enterprise and the Management of Innovation and Director of the Management Studies Centre at University College London. He also is Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship and Faculty Co-Director of the Institute of Technology at London Business School . He is an international authority on the application of behavioral science to workplace and marketplace dynamics. Presentation

Neal Lane, former U.S. Presidential Science Advisor; Senior Fellow in Science and Technology Policy, James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University. Dr. Lane is Senior Fellow in Science and Technology at Rice University’s Baker Institute and the Malcolm Gillis University Professor at Rice. While Director of NSF (1993-1998) and Assistant to the President for Science & Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (1998-2001), Lane played a major role in establishing America’s National Nanotechnology Initiative—a federal investment to date of more than $6.5 billion in nanotechnology research and development. He is a leading proponent of greater citizen-scientist dialogue and public science education.

Julia A. Moore, Deputy Director, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Woodrow Wilson Center

More than $32 billion in nanotechnology products were sold globally last year and, by 2014, Lux Research projects $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology. Nanotechnology refers to the emerging science of manufacturing materials that are measured in nanometers, usually at the 1-100 nanometers scale. The head of a pin is 1 million nanometers wide.