Careers in Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology has developed into a global industry estimated to be worth in excess of one trillion euro in the coming years1. On a daily basis new consumer goods are appearing on the market with so-called 'nano'-enhancements. Indeed from cosmetics to sporting goods the nanorevolution is well underway. However nanotechnology has another side which is often over looked that is it is an enabling technology which contributes to and underlines many advances in traditional manufacturing processes from ingredient selection in the food industry to materials testing in engineering sectors.

The Irish government has been quick to realise the opportunities which nanotechnlogy can offer and the country is well positioned to take advantage of this with strong 'nano' related industries already established in a number of key sectors such as:

  • The electronics industry
  • The Chemical and Pharmaceutical industry
  • The Food sector
  • Medical devices sector

The demand for qualified graduates to drive this global development is set to rise in gradually by 2015 with estimates of over 200 million people worldwide being directly employed by nanotechnology based industries2.

So what makes a nanotechnologist: the general consensus is that nanotechnology grew out off the fundamental disciplines of science and so any science graduate in theory should be able to fulfil the role of a nanotechnologist.

However nanotechnology is, by its nature, multidisciplinary, and current undergraduate programs in science and engineering often tend to compartmentalise themselves into discreet disciplines i.e. physics, chemistry, engineering or biology with little influence or overlap. As a result, many graduates find that they have gaps in their knowledge as nanotechnologists. The DIT offers Ireland's only science with nanotechnology BSc to help train scientists with a keen understanding of nanotechnology for the future (see the education sector). Figure 1 shows the key areas, which can allow a graduate to enter into a successful research or industrial based career in nanotechnology.


Figure 1

For a current breakdown of the Irish nanotechnology industry visit the Irish Nanotechnology Association

1UK Department of Trade and Industry and Office of Science and Technology; New Dimensions for Manufacturing A UK Strategy for Nanotechnology (June 2002)

2Cientifica "Half Way to the Trillion-Dollar Market? A Critical Review of the Diffusion of Nanotechnologies"