The Nanotechnology Policy and Regulation programme at the LSE promotes inter-disciplinary research on policy challenges and regulatory developments in the field of nanotechnologies, at both national and international level.
Nanotechnology, a multidisciplinary field of applied science and engineering, allows the design and creation of objects at molecular scale (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter). With a rapidly expanding range of scientific and commercial applications, nanotechnologies have emerged as a new focus of technology policy and risk regulation around the world. They promise benefits in a wide range of industrial sectors, from health care to chemicals, food, cosmetics, computing and energy storage. At the same time, uncertainty persists with regard to the potential risks associated with nanotechnologies and their applications. A gap has thus emerged between the development of nanosciences and nanotechnologies, on the one hand, and our understanding of how nanomaterials interact with the environment and the human body, on the other. This poses profound challenges not only for national regulation but also for international cooperation and global governance.
Past developments in international risk regulation, such as the case of genetically modified food, have shown the importance of identifying technology risks and promoting international regulatory cooperation at an early stage in the policy process. Governments are currently seeking to promote innovation in nanotechnology while ensuring safety and enhancing public acceptability. The Nanotechnology Policy and Regulation programme provides high quality research aimed at improving policy and regulatory approaches in this field.