The Cognitive, Instrumental and Institutional Origins of Nanoscale Research: The Place of Biology

  • Anne Marcovich
  • Terry Shinn
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 274)


One often hears the claim that nanoscale research (NSR) constitutes nothing new in science – that it is simply old science pursued under a new name in order to benefit from changes in funding policy. In effect, NSR is old wine in new bottles. This assertion is in part connected to the fact that some areas of NSR are deeply rooted in semi-conductor physics and technology and in solid state physics generally. However, much nanoscale research is unrelated to solid-state physics. We will document the existence and importance of numerous other domains in NSR linked to the birth of materials by design. Moreover, it will be shown that NSR is the product of an instrument revolution. Contrary to pronouncements that NSR is continuity under a different name, we will argue that the substance of the field arose suddenly and completely unexpectedly in the course of a single decade. A variety of science emerged that is in some respects novel, being grounded in the combinatorial of new instruments, new materials and a new logic regarding the formulation of research questions.


Atomic Force Microscope Molecular Beam Epitaxy Scanning Tunnelling Microscope Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer Nobel Prize 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maison des Sciences de l’HommeParisFrance
  2. 2.Maison des Sciences de l’HommeParisFrance

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