The first wave of nanotechnology has concerned itself with what is in effect an incremental continuation of long-existing trends in materials science, in which ever-greater control over the nanoscale structure of materials leads to better properties and more functionality. Modern materials rely on being able to control both interfacial structure and grain boundaries in order to develop improved properties. Functional materials for electronics and photonics are changing the way we live and modern materials can enhance our lives further through medical applications of nanotechnology. What is now at issue is the form a second wave of nanotechnology might take – one in which attention is focused, beyond simple materials, to fully functional nanoscale devices.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(08)70145-7