迈向绿色纳米技术

作为以逐个分子甚至逐个原子的方式构造物体的工程学技术的一个分支,纳米技术的出现使人们头脑中产生了能够自我复制的“纳米机器人”的未来式形象。它们可以为病人实施手术,或者因为消耗一切可见的东西而把我们的星球变成一片“灰色的粘性物”。

这两种情况都遵循着相似的情节脉络:技术的进步,例如核技术的发展、转基因有机物、信息技术及合成有机化学,起初都带来人类救赎的希望,然而随着其后果,特别是环境影响的日益明显,又似乎会给人类带来末日之灾。甚至连水的净化-这一对延长人类寿命最为重要的技术进步-也会产生致癌的副产品。根本的发现、技术的发展、不良后果的显现和公众的厌恶似乎是一个牢不可破的循环。

纳米技术会有所不同吗?和任何新技术亮相时一样,纳米技术在早期也引发了典型的惊喜和大鸣大放。但与此同时,在进行大规模商业化开发的条件远未成熟之前,它也遭遇了人们对其可能存在的环境风险的预测。在纳米技术的襁褓期就提出这样的问题或许能使我们获得更好、更安全的产品并减少未来产业化过程中的长期不利因素。

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