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Nanotechnology and the Poor: Opportunities

Nanotechnology and the Poor: Opportunities,10.1007/978-1-4020-6209-4_13,Todd F. Barker,Leili Fatehi,Michael T. Lesnick,Timothy J. Mealey,Rex R. Raimon

Nanotechnology and the Poor: Opportunities  
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Millions of people worldwide continue to lack access to safe water, reliable sources of energy, healthcare, education, and other basic human development needs. Since 2000, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have set targets for meeting these needs. In recent years, an increasing number of government, scientific, and institutional reports have concluded that nanotechnology could make significant contributions to alleviating poverty and achieving the MDGs. Concurrently, these and other reports have also identified potential risks of nanotech nology for developing countries (UN Millennium Project 2005). Perceived by many as the next “transformative technology”——llike electricity or the Internet——llnanotechnology encompasses a broad range of tools, techniques, and applications that manipulate or incorporate materials at the nanoscale in order to yield novel properties that do not exist at larger scales. These novel properties may enable new or improved solutions to problems that have been challenging to solve with conventional technology. For developing countries, these solutions may include more efficient, effective, and inexpensive water purification devices, energy sources, medical diagnostic tests and drug delivery systems, durable building materials, and other products. Additionally, nanotechnology may significantly increase developing countries' production capacities by enabling manufacturing processes that create less pollution and have modest capital, land, labor, energy, and material requirements.
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