Editorial | Published:

One small step

Nature volume 443, page 482 (05 October 2006) | Download Citation


Nature Nanotechnology will spearhead rapid progress in understanding the nanoscale.

Over the past 20 years or so, Nature has published several landmark papers in nanotechnology, including the discoveries of C60, also known as buckyballs (H. W. Kroto et al. Nature 318, 162–163; 1985), and of carbon nanotubes (S. Iijima Nature 354, 56–58; 1991). But the sheer volume of papers published in this sphere is rapidly expanding, and the flow of exciting science already far exceeds our capacity to publish it in this general scientific journal. Hence this month's launch of Nature Nanotechnology.

The papers in its first issue reflect the breadth of the field, with contributions as diverse as the first demonstration of a carbon-nanotube superconducting quantum-interference device and the development of a memory device based on a virus. The multidisciplinary nature of this work is, of course, one of the hallmarks of the discipline.

Research agencies and industrial companies around the world are now investing heavily in nanotechnology, in anticipation not just of scientific results but also of a substantial economic return. In electronics, for example, a big reduction in the scale of semiconductor circuitry would permit techniques that operate only at the nanoscale, such as molecular computing. Other applications are expected in manufacturing, materials, energy and environmental technology. There are also tremendous opportunities in medicine — particularly in imaging and drug delivery.

Past experience suggests that the launch of this new research journal will strengthen, rather than weaken, Nature itself, which will continue to publish papers in this field. Nature Nanotechnology will benefit authors and readers by providing greater exposure for the topic, as well as healthy competition for established journals. We are confident that it will play a central role in the probing of this valuable sphere of knowledge.

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