Vers une nanotechnologie verte

L’avènement de la nanotechnologie, branche de l’ingénierie qui cherche à construire des objets molécule par molécule, voire même atome par atome, fait naître des images futuristes de « nanobots » autoreproducteurs se lançant dans la chirurgie ou transformant toute la planète sur leur passage en une masse de matière poisseuse grise.

Ces deux scénarios suivent une ligne conductrice bien connue : le progrès technologique, tel que le développement du nucléaire, les organismes génétiquement modifiés, les technologies de l’information et la chimie organique de synthèse, promet généralement le salut national avant de se montrer menaçant quand ses conséquences, souvent liées à l’environnement, deviennent visibles. Même la décontamination des eaux, l’avancée technologique la plus importante à avoir vu le jour pour la prolongation de l’espérance de vie des hommes, est source de sous-produits cancérogènes. Le cycle des découvertes fondamentales, du développement technologique, de la mise en évidence des effets secondaires indésirables et du rejet du public semble immuable.

En sera-t-il autrement pour la nanotechnologie ? Avec l’euphorie et le battage des premiers temps, qui accompagnent immanquablement le déploiement de nouvelles technologies, la nanotechnologie a fait l’objet de projections sur les risques possibles liés à l’environnement bien avant sa commercialisation à grande échelle. Soulever ces questions alors que la nanotechnologie n’en est qu’à ses balbutiements pourrait permettre de produire de meilleurs produits, plus sûrs, et de réduire les risques industriels à long terme.

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