Nanotechnology is considered one of the key technologies of the 21st century. It uses effects and methods that make it possible to create, modify and analyse very tiny materials, objects and structures – not larger than 1 to 100 nanometres. The array of potential new applications arising from these effects is huge. They extend from improved energy storage and innovative protection of surfaces to new properties for electronic and optical media. Nanostructures can also be utilised for medicine, enabling innovative medical procedures for diagnostics and therapy.
Nanotechnology is developing rapidly and has become an integral part of daily work, business and environmental activities. Questions of nanosafety are, therefore, of great social relevance as it is not yet possible to make a general statement about the impact of nanotechnologies or nanomaterials on people and nature. This makes nanosafety activities a crucial task in scientific research, which will eventually enable political decision-makers to keep pace with current market developments.
In the Leibniz Association, nanotechnology and related research areas are very well represented. Nano-related research at Leibniz has been particularly successful in building a bridge across basic research and industrial applications. Within the research alliance, Leibniz institutions which excel in the fields of environmental medicine, occupational health and safety, life sciences and data management, are focused on the subject of nanosafety and security. Finally, the research alliance conducts high-level academic studies of prevailing conceptions of nanotechnology and its public perception.