Discussion meeting on soft nanotechnology

A forthcoming conference in London will be discussing the “soft” approach to nanotechnology. The meeting – Faraday Discussion 143 – Soft Nanotechnology – is organised by the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry, and follows a rather unusual format. Selected participants in the meeting submit a full research paper, which is peer reviewed and circulated, before the meeting, to all the attendees. The meeting itself concentrates on a detailed discussion of the papers, rather than a simple presentation of the results.

The organisers describe the scope of the meeting in these terms: “Soft nanotechnology aims to build on our knowledge of biological systems, which are the ultimate example of ‘soft machines’, by:

  • Understanding, predicting and utilising the rules of self-assembly from the molecular to the micron-scale
  • Learning how to deal with the supply of energy into dynamically self-assembling systems
  • Implementing self-assembly and ‘wet chemistry’ into electronic devices, actuators, fluidics, and other ‘soft machines’.
  • An impressive list of invited international speakers includes Takuzo Aida, from the University of Tokyo, Chris Dobson, from the University of Cambridge, Ben Feringa, from the University of Groningen, Olli Ikkala, from Helsinki University of Technology, Chengde Mao, from Purdue University, Stefan Matile, from the University of Geneva, and Klaus J Schulten, from the University of Illinois. The conference will be wrapped up by Harvard’s George Whitesides, and I’m hugely honoured to have been asked to give the opening talk.

    The meeting is not until this time next year, in London, but if you want to present a paper you need to get an abstract in by the 11 July. Faraday Discussions in the past have featured lively discussions, to say the least; it’s a format that’s tailor made for allowing controversies to be aired and strong positions to be taken.