On the tenth anniversary of the launch of Nature Nanotechnology we look back at what we have achieved so far and consider future directions.
Nanotechnology means different things to different people, so it is reasonable to wonder what should be the focus of a paper in a journal with the word 'nano' in its title. Our view, since the first issue was published in October 2006, has simply been that Nature Nanotechnology should publish the most significant results on physical systems where a key component has nanoscale dimensions. Thus, we have covered a wide range of topics in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and engineering.
We have published results in fields that were relatively well established when we launched, such as the toxicity of nanomaterials, the properties and applications of carbon nanotubes and quantum dots, and the development of scanning probes. We have also had the fortune to follow the progress of new fields. For example, after the first paper on graphene was published in Science in 2004, graphene and other 2D materials have become prominent in nanotechnology research, as well as in the pages of Nature Nanotechnology. Another example is DNA origami, which was first reported in Nature in 2006; since then, the increasing complexity and sophistication of the technique over the last 10 years has been followed closely by the journal. Finally, we have been able to include areas that are not traditionally considered nanoscience or nanotechnology, but in which important developments have been made possible through the use of nanostructures, such as the development of applications in quantum information, or the monitoring of electrical signals from neurons.
There are various ways to assess the quality of what we have produced so far. One is to simply look at the overall number of citations of our papers. But citations represent just one — limited — factor. What matters more to Nature Nanotechnology is the mostly positive feedback we have received from the community regarding the quality of the work we have published, both via correspondence and in person when we have attended conferences or visited institutions. Perhaps the best indication that we are doing something right is the ever-growing number of submissions, which has risen steadily from an average of 90 per month in the year following our launch to an average of 170 per month in the last 12 months.
We are, of course, not the only journal publishing important results in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and journals such as Nano Letters, ACS Nano, Nanoscale and the Journal of Nanoparticle Research, to name a few, regularly feature exciting papers. We cannot be complacent about our success so far and selecting the most significant scientific results remains our main commitment for the future, though we will also strive to continue to improve our editorial processes and policies.
As the field of nanotechnology evolves, so must we. Nanotechnology has the potential to play an important role in solving key challenges of modern society, such as the sustainable management of resources, combating poverty and diseases, or preserving the environment. At the same time, different sections of society have different perceptions of the benefits and risks of nanotechnology. Although we have touched on these wider issues in the past, we intend for them to become an integral part of the journal, to be covered in comment and review pieces, but also, when appropriate, in primary research articles.
This month marks our tenth anniversary. Ten years is, after all, a respectable milestone and we are celebrating by publishing a small number of dedicated articles. To start, we asked a number of researchers and policymakers to share their views on how nanotechnology has evolved since the journal launched (page 828). Our regular thesis writer, Chris Toumey, also reflects on his contribution to the journal over the last 10 years in discussing nanotechnology from a social science perspective (page 826). And we have selected some of our favourite images from research articles that we have published (page 836).
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the former editors who have contributed to the journal: Peter Rodgers, Stuart Cantrill, Jessica Thomas, Michael Segal, Sarah Brown and Elisa De Ranieri. Finally, we would like to recognize that the main reason for our success is the contribution of the members of the nanotechnology and nanoscience community: the authors who send us excellent work, the reviewers who lend their expertise and precious time to evaluate and improve the manuscripts we receive, and the wide readership that has supported us over the years.