governments worldwide pour billions into programmes
to exploit the potential of nanotechnology,
Leeds aims to make its mark with its newly-established
Interdisciplinary Institute in Bionanosciences.
trains and submarines that will carry loads
such tiny doses of drugs and virtual reality
software to enable operators to control matter
on the nanoscale
are projects planned by the Institute.
aims to exploit the possibilities for creating
machines on a scale smaller than even existing
microchip technology by modifying the properties
of existing biological molecules to make them
do useful work.
are excellent starting points for such developments
because bio-molecules are easy to program
by changing gene sequences. The advantages
of working on this tiny scale are immense.
A nano version of a micro-device would require
at least a million times less material to
make, with resultant savings in weight, waste
and cost of production and power consumption.
Peter Stockley (pictured), who has been appointed
to a two-year research sabbatical to lead
the development of bionanoscience at Leeds,
said: “These projects aim to establish
feasibility studies that will form the basis
of a sustainable research programme. In the
future we could imagine an engineered nano-submarine
swimming around a patient’s bloodstream
to the site of a tumour too small to be tackled
the diseased tissue has been located by molecular
sensors on the submarine’s surface,
nano-torpedoes will deliver a fatal dose of
anti-cancer drugs without damage to the surrounding
Stockley dismissed fears that the world could
be overtaken by a ‘grey goo’ of
nano-machines replicating themselves and running
amok. “We are many decades away from
such self-replicators. Most current research
is still directed at learning how to manipulate
and investigate matter at this very small
scale,” he said.