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Engineers, physicists, and chemists consorted with their biomedical brethren in a unique conference designed to celebrate the merger of nanotechnology and biotechnology. The Nanotech and Biotech Convergence conference, hosted by BCC, was held May 6 and 7 in Stamford, Connecticut. The conference was organized by Steven Edwards, the editor of this newsletter, and was sponsored by Small Times, a trade magazine that focuses on nanotech, and the NanoBusiness Alliance, a lobbying group.
Although some of speakers discussed high pie-in-the-sky technology that is years from practical application and some talks were academic in nature, the majority of the conference focused on projects that already address needs in drug discovery, diagnostics, and cell biology.
The keynote speaker was Michael Heller, one of the founders of Nanogen (10398 Pacific Center Court, San Diego, CA 92121; Tel: 619/546-7700, Fax: 619/546-7718), and now a professor of biomedical engineering at UC, San Diego. He gave a wide-ranging talk, including information about the use of fluorescent perturbation as a tool for discriminating sequence information, and use of electric field perturbation in catalysis. He pointed out that while many molecular and nanoscale components exist- carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, molecular electronic switches-that might be assembled into devices; there is as yet no cost effective process for putting such devices together in a 2- or 3-D manner. He suggested that assembly might be accomplished by taking advantage of charge differentials through the use of electric fields to move components into place on a microscopic motherboard. Such an approach, he hopes, will eliminate the need for the "billion dollar fab" such as those used to assemble integrated circuits in the semiconductor industry.
Josh Wolfe, managing partner of Lux Capital (99 John St., No. 1603, New York, NY 10038), offered a somewhat controversial assessment of the role that venture capital will play in the development of the …