Nanotechnology and the S&P 500: Small Sizes, Big Questions

Companies worldwide have begun capitalizing on what could become a $3 trillion global market that presents investors with tremendous opportunities as well as undefined environmental, health and safe- ty risks. Nanotechnology has been developing rapidly, but has been largely unnoticed by the general public. At least 1,600 consumer products have entered the marketplace in the last eight years alone, and this is just a sliver of the products and processes already in use and under development?all of which are measured in units some 90,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. By 2020, six million people worldwide may work with nanomaterials, revolutionizing healthcare, information tech- nology, energy systems and other fields. Corporations now provide about half the funding for research on nano frontiers, catching up with governments led by the United States (with $21 billion invested since 2001) and 60 other countries, most rominently Germany, France, Japan, Korea and China.

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