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Oregon's Nanotechnology

OPB | Aug. 15, 2011 9:06 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:27 p.m.

Portland is hosting Nano 2011, an international conference focused on nanotechnology. For four days researchers, developers and companies will come together to discuss a booming field that is becoming ubiquitous throughout science and daily life. But many people who are not in the field wonder: what is nanotechnology, really?

Nanotechnology, in the simplest form, is technology engineered to function on the microscopic scale of nanometers (a billionth of a meter). The ability to view and manipulate materials on this molecular level has given us the possibility to do countless things, from making white gobs of sunscreen clear, to the creation of faster, more powerful computers.

But research is starting to suggest that the rapid progression of nanotechnology is outpacing the regulatory agencies that should be monitoring its safety. And some are becoming concerned that the growing number of personal products coming into the market may end up having unintended personal and environmental consequences.

Do you know if the products you use have nanotechnology in them? Do you care? Do you work in the nano field? What can you tell us about what you do?

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