Relevant to nearly every industry, nanotechnology is considered a "platform technology," because "it readily merges and converges with other technologies and could change how we do just about everything." Today, nanotechnology is delivering promising methods for cleaning up polluted sites, monitoring water sources, and enabling new methods of drug delivery. Tomorrow, it could provide the technical means for new solutions to the world's energy problems, to treat water at its point of use, and to make artificial tissues that replace diseased organs and even repair nerve damage.
Nanotechnology is still very much a work in progress—for example, while most first-generation nanomedicines are reformulations of existing drugs, farther down the road, experts predict the creation of novel nanostructures that could serve as new kinds of drugs for treating cancer, Parkinson's, and cardiovascular disease.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies on PewHealth.org.