Many technological developments focus on miniaturisation. This means that devices and their components are getting smaller and smaller. Nanotechnology is the term used for the domain involving dimensions smaller than one 10,000th of a millimetre. At that scale, the properties of materials can suddenly change. For example, a substance that is not conductive suddenly becomes (super) conductive in this size range. And a conductive substance can actually lose its conductive properties.
Value for the Dutch high tech industry
In microelectronics, components are so small that we are beginning to speak of nanoelectronics: lines of several tens of nanometres in width are now being applied to the latest chips. This trend towards miniaturisation is expected to grow considerably. Nanotechnology is not an end product and, as such, is also virtually invisible. It is a technology that is indispensable for meeting societal challenges. Promising applications include the energy transition, sustainability and the medical field.
The climate agreement can only be achieved by using energy more consciously and efficiently. Can we increase the efficiency of solar cells to their theoretical limit? Can we surpass this theoretical limit by using nanotechnology solutions? Nanotechnology, i.e. the use of nanolayers, nanomaterials and nanopatterned surfaces, opens up the possibility of solar cells with significantly higher yields than those of conventional solar cells. Nanotechnology makes it possible to develop lighter batteries with a higher capacity, so that we can also store sustainably generated energy.
Nanotechnology can also be used for innovative solutions in the area of sustainability. Greatly improved use and reuse of materials, water filtration through membranes that use nanopatterns and nanostructures, and environmental monitoring via sensors based on nanotechnology are just a few examples.
The specific advantages of nanotechnology can also be used to improve healthcare and keep healthcare costs at an affordable level. For example, nanotechnology facilitates health monitoring from the home through sensor miniaturisation, based on nanophotonics and nanoelectronics. Thanks to lab-on-a-chip and organ-on-a-chip devices, better medications can be developed faster and tailored to individual needs. Nanoparticles can potentially be used to reliably detect cancer cells and to selectively transport drugs to cancer cells.
We are on the eve of a technological revolution in which quantum computers, quantum simulators, quantum networks and quantum sensors will surpass the capabilities of our current computers and software. Here again, the use of nanofabrication and nanoscale connectivity and nanoscale electronics is indispensable.
Due to the broad applicability of nanotechnology, it is also of great importance to the Netherlands. The estimated export potential of SMEs alone is estimated at more than 1 billion euros. There are currently about 8,000 people working in nano-related SMEs providing products and services that would not be possible with nanotechnology as the key technological driver.
What we do as Holland High Tech
Holland High Tech supports the sector by funding research and innovation and by finding the right partners in the business community, and within government and education. We contribute to the international perspective.
Nanotechnology Road Map
In the Holland High Tech 2020-2030 Road Map you can read how the nanotechnology sector will develop in the next ten years. This road map is a stakeholder vision of the R&D needs of the Dutch sector associated with this technology in the period up to 2030. This road map is intended as a guideline that sets out a further development path for the industry and its stakeholders, and defines a supportive strategy for government, to ensure optimal continued development in partnership with education and to contribute to solutions in this decade.
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Nanotechnology road map team
For the Netherlands, innovation is essential. We are working on smart technologies to address major societal challenges: Dutch solutions to global issues. Through technological innovation and with our unique knowledge, we as a country are acting to ensure security of work and income in the future. Holland High Tech increases the impact of innovation. Find out more about our themes and our (key) technologies.