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The Job

Nanotechnologists work in industries that use nanotechnology. For example, those employed in the alternative energy industry work with scientists and engineers to improve fuel cell efficiency and develop self-cleaning coatings for solar cells that reduce maintenance time and costs. Nanotechnologists working for the National Institutes of Health have helped to develop nanoparticles as drug delivery systems to directly target tumors. In the food packaging industry, nanotechnologists help develop nanosensors that can detect food-borne pathogens. Many other industries use nanomaterials, including cosmetics (for emulsions and pigments), textiles (to produce garments that are more durable and dirt- and water-repellent), and construction (to create self-cleaning glass and stronger concrete). Although nanotechnologists work in a variety of industries, all technologists perform the following duties:

  • inspect and measure thin films of carbon nanotubes, inorganic coatings, and polymers using a variety of techniques or analytical tools
  • develop or modify wet chemical or industrial laboratory experimental techniques for nanoscale use
  • produce images or measurements using tools or techniques such as atomic force microscopy, optical microscopy, particle size analysis, scanning electron microscopy, or zeta potential analysis
  • process nanoparticles or nanostructures, using technologies such as ultraviolet radiation, microwave energy, or catalysis
  • prepare capability data, training materials, and other documentation for transfer of research processes to production
  • prepare reports for scientists, engineers, project managers, and company executives
  • collect or compile nanotechnology research or engineering data
  • contribute written material or data for grant or patent applications
  • install nanotechnology production equipment at customer or manufacturing sites
  • supervise technicians engaged in nanotechnology research or production
  • analyze the life cycle of nanomaterials or nano-enabled products to determine environmental impact, and address any issues that arise