Nanotechnology and the Poor: Opportunities

  • Todd F. Barker
  • Leili Fatehi
  • Michael T. Lesnick
  • Timothy J. Mealey
  • Rex R. Raimond

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.


Magnetic Nanoparticles Nanotechnology Research Nanotechnology Application Water Treatment Technology Millennium Project 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barker, S.E. 2003. A Featherweight Solution for a Weighty Problem: BU Chemist Wins USD$351K EPA Grant to Develop Nanoreactor to Detect, Trap Heavy Metals in Cited 4 April 2007.
  2. BioFinger. Cited 1 June 2007.
  3. British Zeolite Association. Cited 1 June 2007.
  4. Bruske-Hohlfeld, I et al. 2005. Do nanoparticles interfere with human health? GAIA 14.1: 21–23.Google Scholar
  5. Bullis, K. 2006. Solar-Powered Hydrogen Generation. MIT Technology Review (12 December 2006). Cited 1 June 2007.
  6. Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology. Nanocatalysts for Remediation of Environmental Pollutants. research.cfm?doc_id = 5099. Cited 1 June 2007.
  7. Cientifica. 2003. Nanoporous Materials. Cited 1 June 2007.
  8. Colvin, V. 2002. Responsible Nanotechnology: Looking Beyond the Good News. EurekAlert. = nano&show = essays& essaydate = 1102.Cited 1 June 2007.
  9. Contrada, J.D. 2003. UB Researchers Developing Sensors to Detect Agents Used in Biological Warfare. UB Reporter (4 December 2003). Cited 1 June 2007.
  10. Dumé, B. 2006. Top hydrogen-storing polymer revealed. Nanotechweb (29 August 2006). Cited 1 June 2007.
  11. ETC Group. 2004. Down on the Farm: The Impact of Nano-Scale Technologies on Food and Agriculture (23 November 2004): = 80. Cited 1 June 2007.
  12. 16 September 2004. = 54760-nanotechnology-a-food. Cited 1 June 2007.
  13. Ghosh, R. 2006. Tata Set to Go Nano, Focus on High-Value Fertilisers. Daily News and Analysis (17 July 2006): = 1042258. Cited 1 June 2007.
  14. Goldman, L. and C. Coussens, eds. 2005. Implications of Nanotechnology for Environmental Health Research. National Academy of Sciences Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research and Medicine, Environmental Health Research. Cited 1 June 2007.
  15. Government of Australia. 2006. Australian Nanotechnology Water & Environment (March 2006): Cited 1 June 2007.
  16. Halford, B. 2005. Dendrimers Branch Out. Chemical and Engineering News (13 June 2005): Cited 1 June 2007.
  17. Helmut Kaiser Consultancy. Nanotechnology in Food and Food Processing Industry Worldwide, 2003-2006-2010-2015. Cited 1 June 2007.
  18. Hillie, T et al. 2006. Nanotechnology, Water, and Development. Meridian Institute. pp. 35–39.
  19. Holman, M. W et al. 2006. The Nanotech Report 4th ed. New York: Lux Research.Google Scholar
  20. Information Society Technologies. 2005. Portable Molecular Detection Tool to Revolutionise Medical Diagnosis. Cited 1 June 2007.
  21. Inframat. 2001. Description of Nanofibrous. MnO2 Bird's-Nest Superstructure Catalyst. Cited 1 June 2007.
  22. Inside Washington Publishers. 2006. BP Sees Potential Breakthroughs In Solar Energy Using Nanotech. Inside Green Business (11 July 2006).Google Scholar
  23. Intermediate Technology Development Group. Power to the People. Cited 28 November 2004.
  24. Los Alamos National Laboratory. Nanoporous Polymers for Water Purification. Cited 4 April 2007.
  25. Moldofsky, L. 2004. Biotechnology: Smarter Products with Nanotechnology. Financial Times Australia (28 October 2004).Google Scholar
  26. Nano-Fotocide. Cited 1 June 2007.
  27. NanoViricides Invited to Vietnamś Hi Tech Park. Business Wire (21 November 2006).Google Scholar
  28. Nanotechnology coating is battling hospital superbugs. Infolink (7 September 2006): Cited 1 June 2007.
  29. New disease detector wins £826,000 grant.,.Cambridge Evening News (13 October 2006): Cited 1 June 2007.
  30. Pars Environmental, Inc. NanoFe. Cited 1 June 2007.
  31. Ring, Ed. 2006. Nano-Titanate Car Batteries. EcoWorld (11 September 2006). Cited 1 June 2007.
  32. Roco, M.C. 2003. Nanotechnology: Convergence with modern biology and medicine. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 14: 337–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Roco, M.C et al., eds. 1999. Visions for Nanotechnology Research and Development in the Next Decade. Interagency Working Group on Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology, Loyola College, Maryland, September 1999. Section 10. Nanoscale Processes in the Environment. pp. 143–153. Cited 1 June 2007
  34. Rogers, P. 2006. World's largest solar plant planned in Bay Area. Mercury News (21 June 2006). Cited 1 June 2007.
  35. Roumeliotis, G. 2006. Researchers give ‘one-off vaccines’ a shot. in-Pharma Technologist (20 March 2006): = 66534. Cited 1 June 2007.
  36. RPI News and Information. 2004. Efficient Filters Produced from Carbon Nanotubes through Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—Banaras Hindu University Collaborative Research. 11 August 2004. = 435. Cited 1 June 2007.
  37. Salamanca-Buentello, F et al. 2005. Nanotechnology and the Developing World. PLoS Medicine.doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020097.Google Scholar
  38. Scott, N and H. Chen. Nanoscale Science and Engineering for Agriculture and Food Systems.Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, US Department of Agriculture.Google Scholar
  39. Singh, K.A. 12 January 2007. Intellectual Property in the Nanotechnology Economy. Nanoforum. Cited 1 June 2007.
  40. South Centre. 2005. The Potential Impacts of Nano-Scale Technologies on Commodity Markets: The Implications for Commodity Dependent Developing Countries. Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  41. Srivastava, A et al. 2004. Carbon nanotube filters. Nature Materials 3: 610–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. UN Conference on Trade and Development. 2005. Trends in World Commodity Trade, Enhancing Africa's Competitiveness and Generating Development Gains. Report by the UNCTAD secretariat for the 2nd Extraordinary Session of the Conference of African Union Ministers of Trade, 21–24 November, 2005, Arusha, Tanzania.Google Scholar
  43. UN Millennium Project. 2004. Forging Ahead: Technological Innovation and the Millennium Development Goals. Task Force on Science, Technology, and Innovation. 8 November 2004. Cited 1 June 2007.
  44. UN Millennium Project. 2005. Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development. Task Force on Science, Technology, and Innovation. Cited 1 June 2007.
  45. UN Millennium Project. 2005. Health, Dignity, and Development: What Will It Take? Task Force on Water and Sanitation. 1 June 2007.
  46. US Environmental Protection Agency. 2007. Background. Cited 1 June 2007.
  47. Water Industry News. 2005. Long Beach Water Department Wins USD$3 Million California rant for Innovative Seawater Desalination Project. 12 April 2005. Cited 1 June 2007.
  48. Xu, H et al. 2005. Structural Changes of Bimetallic PdX/Cu (1– Nanocatalysts Developed for itrate Reduction of Drinking Water. Materials. Research Society Symposium Proceedings 876E:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd F. Barker
  • Leili Fatehi
  • Michael T. Lesnick
  • Timothy J. Mealey
  • Rex R. Raimond

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations