Careers in Nanotechnology
Careers in nanotechnology generally equate to careers in condensed matter physics because the theme is the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. There are many career opportunities arising from nanotech's potential of creating new materials and devices with applications in medicine, energy production, and electronics. A job in DNA nanotechnology would mean using a bottom-up approach to designing new structures, like DNA nanotubes. Other jobs require using conventional solid-state technologies to create 100 nm or smaller sized devices for giant magnetoresistance-based hard drives, thin film deposition techniques, micro-electro-mechanical systems, nanolithography, and transmission electron microscopy. A job in molecular electronics would mean trying to develop molecules with useful electronic properties.
There might also be career opportunities in connection with the concern about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials. Nanomaterials behave differently than other similarly-sized particles. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Chemicals Committee has established the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials to address this issue and to study the practices of OECD member countries in regards to nanomaterial safety.
A career in nanotechnology would mean working with fullerenes or inorganic nanoparticles. Fullerenes are a class of allotropes of carbon that can be thought of as sheets rolled into tubes or spheres. There are jobs studying the uses of fullerenes in binding antibiotics to the structure of resistant bacteria, targeting certain types of cancer cells, and light-activated antimicrobial agents.
There are nanoparticles made of metals, semiconductors, or oxides and many jobs involved studying their mechanical, electrical, magnetic, optical, chemical properties. Nanoparticles have been used as semiconductors that have properties between those of bulk semiconductors and discrete molecules. Nanotechnology means the creation of jobs researching the bridge between bulk materials and atomic or molecular structures. A job researching the properties of colloids and ceramics would involve nanotechnology. There are careers to be made researching size-dependent properties such as quantum confinement in semiconductor particles, surface plasmon resonance in some metal particles, and super-paramagnetism in magnetic materials.