Phantom Nanohorns

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The Enquirer reports that NEC is now able to produce a kilogram of pure nanohorns a day. Back in 2003, Yoshimi Kubo, senior manager of NEC Fundamental Research Labs’ Nanotube Technology Centre, said the methanol based fuel cells using nanohorns would start shipping for laptops in 2004 and cell phones in 2005. Back in 2002 they were claiming availability in 2003.

NEC are not alone with bullish predictions about nanomaterials, Toshiba and Casio were also claiming similar time scales.

It is a salutary lesson about the huge gap between the initial enthusiasm of engineers (material x could revolutionise…) and the dull reality of trying to manufacture materials reliably and in bulk, at an economically viable price. Every day we see many nanotech articles with qualifiers such as ‘could’ or ‘may, rather than statements such as ‘is’ or ‘will’ – which is what it takes to convince the business community that nanotech is not vapourware.

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