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             Nanotechnology, usually defined as being the construction and manipulation of materials on a nanometer (10^{-9} meter) scale, is one of the future technologies which seems rapidly to be becoming feasible. Among the immediate applications of nanotechnology are improved electrical devices through shrinking of chip size, designer drugs, "green" pollution filters and scrubbers, and extremely sensitive sensors. Longer term, would be "intelligent" stimulus-responsive materials, the construction of new "perfect" materials designed down to the atomic level, "nanobots", and general purpose assemblers. .
             Japan at present is not emphasizing nanotechnology research per se in the same way the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) earlier carried out its Fifth-Generation Computer Project. Indeed, it is questionable as to whether the higher-ups in the bureaucracy have ever been exposed to the more esoteric concepts involved--they seem totally oblivious to "strong' nanotechnology "a la" Eric Drexler's concept of nanobots, general assemblers, etc. On the other hand, the basic research areas underlying nanotechnology (biotechnology, fabrication of semiconductor devices on the scale of nanometers) are areas of great interest. Two "future technologies" which Japan thinks it should push research in [according to MITI reports] are 1) micromachines, and 2) biotechnology. (Shrinking electronic devices do not seem to be considered a "new technology" from the viewpoint of Japan's technology policy--simply a continuation of an existing trend.) It will be interesting to see what happens when these three fields fuse together and Japan realizes what this implies.
             Research in Nanotechnology .
             Present nanotechnology research can be roughly split into two sections, one dealing with quantum devices as well as other inorganic mesoscopic structures, the other involving proteins, biotechnology, and the "bottom up" form of structures-- the "biotechnology" side of the field, if one will.

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