The convergence of knowledge from natural sciences, engineering and humanities disciplines should characterize the knowledge disseminated in nanoscience and nanotechnology educational programmes. The universities have to produce graduates capable of crossing the existing boundaries between physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and engineering, the combination of which constitutes the multidisciplinary research and development necessary for advancing nanotechnology.
Nanotechnologies have caught the imagination of scientists worldwide for their mind-bogging potential to create a new generation of materials and structures. But lost in the hype surrounding the nanotechnology and its market potential is the teaching of nanoscience in universities. However, with a decreasing number of people in western countries going into science and engineering and with the rapid progress being made in nanosciences and nanotechnology, the problem with a trained work force is expected to be acute. Education and training is essential to produce a new generation of scientists, engineers, and skilled workers with the flexible R&D approach necessary for rapid progress in nanosciences and nanotechnology. The question is being asked: Is the traditional separation of academic disciplines into physics, chemistry, biology and various engineering disciplines meaningful at the nano level? Generic skills and entrepreneurship are needed to translate scientific knowledge into nanotechnology processes and products. How to increase the pool of students interested in science and technology? Also, scientists and engineers in cooperation with relevant experts should address the societal, ethical, political and health/safety implications of their work for society at large.
Material unity of nature at the nanoscale and knowledge integration from that scale will provide a new foundation for technological integration and innovation [1-3]. The goal is to exploit the new properties, phenomena, and processes by gaining control of structures and devices at atomic, molecular, and supra-molecular levels and to learn to efficiently manufacture and use these structures and devices. Knowledge of natural sciences, engineering technologies, and medicine is extremely useful for the efficiently manufacture and use the results of nanotechnology. Revolutionary and synergetic advances at the interfaces between previously separated fields of science, engineering and areas of relevance are ready to create nano-bio-info transforming tools. Interdisciplinary curricula relevant for nanoscience and nanotechnology need to be developed. This requires revamping the education, developing new courses and course materials and training new instructors. Science needs to be projected as exciting at the high school level.
2. HISTORICAL TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD
People outside of science and engineering sometimes have unreasonable images of what technology can accomplish in the near future. Another way of putting this is to say that we may still be only half way through the historical transformation of the world that began with the European renaissance. Historians today are more likely to start the clock for modern civilization even earlier.
2.1 Ancient Civilizations
The natural laws of interdependence were recognized by many ancient civilizations. However, without a coherent understanding of connections, the concepts were reflected only philosophically (non-mathematically). The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) has developed many theories on the nature of physics. These involved what Aristotle described as the five elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Aether that formed the basis of our world. He spoke intimately of the relation between these elements, of their dynamics, and how they were, in many cases, attracted to each other by unspecified forces. The concept of essentially the same five elements was similarly found in ancient India. Similar lists existed in ancient China and Japan.
The Renaissance is widely viewed as the greatest explosion of creative genius in history. The Renaissance knew human right to the all accessible knowledge and saw “unity of nature”. The High Renaissance is generally held to have emerged in the late 1490s, when Leonardo da Vinci executed his Last Supper in Milan. Three of his works, the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and the drawing of the Vitruvian Man are regarded as cultural icons. However, Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity as well. He conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, the double hull and outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. As a scientist, he greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics.
2.3 Modern science
The Renaissance saw „unity in nature“, but it was followed by disciplinary specialization because of limited integrative knowledge. The five elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Aether described by Aristotle had their new reflection in the solid, liquid, gaseous, plasma states, and in the world of elementary particles. The unity in nature has been characterized by units of atoms bonded by various kinds of interactions. An example of carbon atoms in solid, liquid, and vapour states is demonstrated in Fig. 1 .
In 1959, physicist and Nobel prize laureate Richard Feynman presents lecture "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" at a meeting of the American Physical Society and introduces the concept of nanotechnology – without naming it as such.
In fact, the start gun was fired nearly four decades earlier. Born in Latvia, Wilhelm Ostwald (1888 – 1932) was a Nobel Laureate credited with numerous discoveries in catalysis and synthetic chemistry. Even while steeped in his main scientific activities, he would often reflect on what he termed the “neglected dimension”: the colloidal state. Ostwald waxed eloquently in this state that lies somewhere between single molecules and bulk matter, with particles of 1 nm to 1 μm dispersed in solution. In this twilight zone, such materials display unusual mechanical, electrical, and optical properties. He proposed many interesting applications for these colloidal systems ranging from responsive soft materials, flocculants, and dispersants, to better pigments and drug-release systems foreshadowing some of the nanotechnology applications widely touted today. He did not know “no other branch of the science which touches upon so many different spheres of knowledge as does colloidal chemistry…” Anyway, nanoscience seems to be really an extension of colloidal chemistry, especially in its ability to straddle various disciplines .
The five elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Aether described by Aristotle have their secondary reflection in the system of colloidal particles in solid, liquid and dispersion states. The unity in nature has been characterized by units of colloids which consist up to about 104 atoms bonded by various kinds of interactions. An example of carbon black colloidal particles in solid, liquid, and vapour states is demonstrated in Fig. 2  for two kinds of interactions, van der Waals attractive and electrostatic repulsive forces.
3. TECHNOLOGICAL CONVERGENCE FROM NANOSCALE
Nanoscale concepts have been established and rejuvenated by new measurement, control, and manipulation tools in the last twenty years. This foundation will lead to the synergistic combination of three major provinces of science and technology, each of which is currently progressing at a rapid rate: nanoscience and nanotechnology, biotechnology and biomedicine, information technology, including computing, telecommunication and cognitive sciences.
Nanotechnology may transform the world, but probably not through any single application such as nanostructured materials, nanoscale devices, or even the mythical nanobots. Although nanoscience and nanotechnology are typically conceptualized as a distinct field, their primary historical significance is likely the central role they play in the unification of most branches of science and technology into a single realm, united by a shared set of concepts, theories, research tools, and design principles. Already, nanotechnology has formed strong partnership with biotechnology and with information technology.
In the next twenty years, concentrated efforts from a number of disciplines are likely to bring greater unity of science – a reflection of the unity of the natural world. With proper attention to ethical issues and societal needs, the nano-bio-info technologies could determine a tremendous improvement in human abilities, societal outcomes, the nation’s productivity, and the quality of life. Integration of nano-bio-info tools is expected to lead to fundamentally new products and services, such as entirely new categories of materials, devices, and systems for use in manufacturing, construction, transportation, medicine, emerging technologies and scientific research.
Fundamental research will be at the confluence of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and engineering. Nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology will play an essential role in their research, design, and production.
Industries increasingly will use biological processes in manufacturing using nanomaterials and nanotechnology. Examples are pharmaceutical genomics, neuromorphic technology, regenerative medicine, biochips with complex functions, molecular systems with multiscale architectures, electronic devices with three-dimensional, hierarchical architectures, software, etc.
4. THE CO-EVOLUTION OF NANOTECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN POTENTIAL
Convergence in science and engineering education will require the development of vast new curriculum resources. Up-to-date education and training with mobility across borders and disciplines and between academia and industry is recognized as being critical for the success of nanotechnology, and particularly the interdisciplinary nature of nanotechnology.
When developing a new course of study there is always a great deal of soul-searching about what should, or should not, be contained in the course. This is especially so in an area of technology that is truly multi-disciplinary and developing rapidly into new thematic are as such as nanotechnology. Many countries and universities have started undergraduate educational programmes on nanoscience and nanotechnology. But how should be these programmes be designed and for whom? What do industry and society need today, and what will we need in five or twenty years? Moreover, nanoscience challenges the division of natural science into the classical disciplines like physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, electronics, informatics, and medicine. The cross-disciplinary nature of nanoscience and nanotechnology might therefore also question the traditional structure of educational programmes when it comes to teaching and education in nanoscience and nanotechnology.
Anyway, we can summarize the features of responsible education in nanotechnology in the next paragraphs.
a) General courses:
mathematics, physics, chemistry, material science and technology, biology, medical anatomy, physiology and neurology, informatics, electronics, mechanical, structural, electrical and general engineering.
b) The courses in nanoscience and nanotechnology:
- nanoscience (nanomaterials, theory of colloids, fractals, quantum physics etc.)
- nanostructures characterization (HRTEM, SEM, SPM, spectroscopy, etc.)
- nanostructures and their properties (functional nanomaterials and bio-systems),
- nanofabrication (synthesis, solidification, top-down and bottom-up processes, selfassembly),
- application of new nanostructures (material engineering, electronics, medicine etc.),
- responsible research of nanotechnology (risks for environment, human health and safety, ethical, legal and social issues).
c) Follow-up to courses like PhD study, research, and/or industry:
Specific tasks should be performed in nano-bio-info cooperation taking in account the general rule in the next diagram.
We can hope that convergence will in fact simplify the fundamental principles over the coming years, even as increasingly vast information-technology databases of facts are employed by professional scientists and engineers to apply these principles to specific applications. The result of even partial success in convergent science education of future generations will produce intellectual leaders capable of transforming culture utterly. The vast knowledge area in nanotechnology presents significant challenges in the design, development, and delivery of educational programmes both at the bachelor, master, and doctor level. For instance, European universities have elected to teach at post-graduate level nanotechnology masters qualifications [7-10]:
Examples of engineering courses from European educational programmes of nanotechnology:
University ||Master of Science Course Title ||Main discipline|
|University of Antwerp, Belgium ||Nanophysics ||Physics|
|University Fourier, Grenoble, France ||Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies ||Multidisciplinary |
|University Kaiserslautern, Germany ||Nanobiotechnology Distance Study ||Multidisciplinary |
|University College Dublin, Ireland ||Nano-Bio Science ||Physics |
|Universities Padua, Venice & Verona ||Nanotechnologies ||Multidisciplinary |
|University of Twente, Netherland ||Nanotechnology ||Multidisciplinary |
|University of Barcelona, Spain ||Nanoscience and Nanotechnology ||Multidisciplinary |
|University of Zaragoza, Spain ||Nanostructured Materials ||Multidisciplinary |
|Bangor University, UK ||Nanotechnology and Microfabrication ||Engineering |
|Cranfield Univesity, UK ||Microsystems and Nanotechnology ||Engineering |
|Cranfield University, UK ||Nanomedicine ||Physical Sciences |
|Heriot-Watt University, UK ||Nanotechnology and Microsystems Eng. ||Physics |
|Lancaster University, UK ||Micro+Nanotech & Management & Society ||Engineering |
|University of Cambridge, UK ||Micro and Nanotechnology ||Physical Sciences|
|University of Leeds or Sheffield, UK ||Bionanotechnology ||Biology |
|University of Leeds or Sheffield, UK ||Nanoelectronics and nanomechanics ||Engineering |
|University of Leeds or Sheffield, UK ||Nanoscale Science and Technology ||Physical Sciences |
|University of Leeds or Sheffield, UK ||Nanomaterials for Nanoengineering ||Engineering |
|University of Liverpool, UK ||Micro and Nano Technology ||Engineering |
|University of Nottingham, UK ||Nanoscience ||Multidisciplinary |
|University of Surrey, UK ||Nanotechnology & Nanoelectronic Devices ||Multidisciplinary |
|University of Wales, UK ||Nanoscience to Nanotechnology ||Multidisciplinary |
Advanced Experimental Methods
Bio-captors and bio-chips, Bio-fluid Mechanics, Biomaterials, Biomimicry, Biomolecular Motors, Bionanotechnology, Biophysical Methods For Medicinal Chemistry, Biophysics, Biosensors,
Atomic Force Microscopy, Characterization techniques II (microscopy TEM,SEM,AFM,STM)
Computational Biophysics, Computational nanophysics, Computer modeling and simulation
Electronic and Photonic Molecular Materials and Devices
Fabrication and characterization of nanostructures I
Frontiers of Nanotechnology
Generic methodologies for bionanotechnology, Generic methodologies for nanotechnology
Inorganic semiconductor nanostructures
Lab practise experiments in biology and in near field microscopy
Macro molecules at interfaces and structured organic films
Microsystems technology I
Molecular engineering of supramolecules, nanomaterials and interfaces
Nano magnetism and spintronics, Nano structures of semiconductor, Nanobiotechnology, Nano-electronics, Nanoelectronics and Devices, Nanofluidics, Nanomanufacturing nanoprocessing: the top down approach, Nanomechanics, Nano-optics, Nanooptics and Biophotonics, Nanoparticles as Therapeutic Drug Carriers and Diagnostics, Nanoparticulate materials, Nanophotonics, Nanoscale magnetic materials and devices, Nanoscale phenomena, Nanoscale Structures and Devices, Nanoscience and Nanomaterials, Nanoscience Literature and Communication Skills, Nanotechnologically Modified Biomaterials, Nanotechnology,
Partial Differential Equations
Physical Characterisation of Nanostructures, Physical Synthesis of Nanoparticles, Physics of materials, Physics of micro and nano electronics, Physics of Nano structures, Physics of Nanomaterials, Physics of semiconductor nanodevices, Probing at the Nanoscale,
Processing & properties of inorganic nanomaterials, Processing Ceramics and Composites and their Applications, Processing Coatings and their Applications,
Computer simulation techniques
Quantum electronics and quantum optics
Screening Methods in Biology, Chip Technologies
Self-assembling nanostructured molecular materials and devices
Single Molecule Biophysics: Theory and Practice, Single Molecule Optics,
 Handbook of Nanotechnology, ed. by BHUSHAN, B. Introduction, p.8. Springer 2007
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 RAJAGOPALAN, S. Lessons from the past. Materialstoday, November 2006, Vol.9, Number 11
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 RUDQUIST, P Teaching Across Scientific and Geographical Borders - Chalmers University of Technology. Prague: Euronanoforum 2009, Proceedings p.95
 BENNINK M.L. Interdisciplinary Nanotechnology Education at MESA – University of Twente: Euronanoforum 2009, Proceedings p.95
 GRADIMIR, M. et al European PhD School on Nanoanalysis – Gimmune, Zug, Switzerland – Université du Luxembourg – IonTof, Muenster, Germany – Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium – RWHT Aachen, Germany – Centre de Recherche Public Gabriel Lippmann, SAM, Luxemburg. Euronanoforum 2009, Proceedings p.96
 DUNN, S., SINGH, K. A. Analysis of M-Level modules in Interdisciplinary Nanotechnology Education in Europe. Institute of Nanotechnology, Glasgow 2009
The study was done in the framework of the research intention of the Czech Technical University in Prague “Diagnostics of Materials” MSM 6840770021