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February 21, 2012

Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies Identifies Top Technology Trends

Lynn L. Bergeson

During the Summit on the Global Agenda 2011, the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies asked members to identify the technology trends that would have the greatest global impact. The trends, which were presented in order of greatest potential to provide solutions to global challenges, include “nanoscale design of materials” as fourth on the list. According to the Council, “increasing demand on natural resources requires unprecedented gains in efficiency. Nanostructured materials with tailored properties, designed and engineered at the molecular scale, are already showing novel and unique features that will usher in the next clean energy revolution, reduce our dependence on depleting natural resources, and increase atom-efficiency manufacturing and processing.” Nanotechnology was also mentioned in other trends: Number 6, “Utilization of carbon dioxide as a resource” (“[n]ovel catalysts, based on nanostructured materials, can potentially transform carbon dioxide to high value hydrocarbons and other carbon-containing molecules”); Number 8, “High energy density power systems” (“emerging technologies are coming together to lay the foundation for advanced electrical energy storage and use, including the development of nanostructured electrodes, solid electrolysis and rapid-power delivery from novel supercapacitors based on carbon-based nanomaterials”); and Number 9, “Personalized medicine, nutrition and disease prevention” (emerging technologies, including nanotechnology, “are laying the foundation for a revolution in healthcare and well-being that will be less resource intensive and more targeted to individual needs”).