This portmanteau word combining “nanotechnology” and “manufacturing” describes the process of product fabrication at the molecular level. Applications range from making golf clubs lighter and stronger and garments more water repellent to squeezing several billion transistors into a computer chip the size of a fingernail.
The global industry continues to grow, having exceeded about $20 billion last year, but, according to Geoffrey Ozin, a University of Toronto professor of chemistry and a pioneer in nanotech, Canada lags in “nanofacturing” compared to Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan. Reasons include a lack of venture capitalist funding, high levels of risk aversion and a weak culture of innovation. “With the emerging nanotechnology revolution upon us, we have to make professors more aware of, and receptive to, entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves and their students,” says Ozin.