The speaker line-up is now complete for Europeís first Nanotextile Conference, EuroNanoTex 2004. It has certain similarities to our first ever nanotechnology conference, TNT 2000, in that it pulls together a lot of previously unconnected strands for a common purpose. This time the driver is business, not science.
At TNT 2000 it was the first time for many people that they had sat down with scientists from outside their discipline. For most scientists, once you decide what flavour of scientist you want to be and head off to university itís physicists in this building, biologists in that one and chemists on the other side of the university campus with perhaps some engineers lurking in the basement. Nanotechnology is doing a great job of allowing us to leverage all that science has to offer, rather than one individual part of it.
Something similar is happening at EuroNanoTex 2004, with textile manufactures rubbing shoulders with nanotube producers, and members of the European Parliament mingling with chemists. Textiles, an industry where technology has always given manufactures a competitive advantage, from the Spinning Jenny, which replaced the previous dominant but non scaleable spinning wheel to stain resistant clothes. Between the invention of the Spinning Jenny and the power loom was only 15 years, but it allowed the UK to become the dominant player in global textile production and created the vast amounts of wealth still evident in the buildings of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.
Could we be on the edge of a similar disruption comparable to the mecahnisation of the texile industry or the invention of synthetic dyes? We'll find out in Barcelona.