Nanotechnology is considered one of the key technologies of the 21st century. It uses effects and methods that allow for the production, modification and analysis of materials, objects and structures on the very smallest scale – between 1 and 100 nanometres.
The scope for applying these effects is immense. It ranges from improved energy storage and innovative surface protection through new features for electronic and optical media to innovative medical procedures in diagnostics and therapy.
Nanotechnology is developing at a fast pace and has long become part of our daily work, business and environmental activities. Nanosafety issues are therefore of great relevance to society, as we are not yet able to make a general statement on whether nanotechnologies or nanomaterials are dangerous or not. Work on nanosafety is all the more urgent as the necessary research work and, even more so, the legislative apparatus must keep pace with rapid market evolution.
The Leibniz Research Alliance "Nanosafety" deals with safety issues that are either caused by or can be addressed by nanomaterials and nanoproducts.
The topic requires an inter- and transdisciplinary approach: elements of chemistry, physics and materials science must be linked with aspects of biology, toxicology, medicine and social sciences.
Nanotechnology and adjacent fields are very well represented in the Leibniz Association and are particularly successful in strategically bridging the gap between basic research and industrial exploitation. There are also excellent Leibniz institutions working in the fields of environmental medicine and labour studies which focus on nanosafety. Lastly, the Leibniz Association is in a position to analyse (public) perception of the complex “Nano” at a sophisticated scientific level.