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The University of Tennessee will host a conference on nanotechnology from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the UT Science and Engineering Research Facility.

“Nanotechnology’s Future in East Tennessee: Small Tech’s Big Potential (and Notable Risks)” is sponsored by UT’s Energy, Environment and Resources Center (EERC) and Center for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB). The event is free and open to the public.

CEB Director Dr. Gary Sayler said nanotech, or the science of very small things, is poised for a jump in growth.

“The National Science Foundation projects that nanotech will grow into a $1 trillion industry by 2015,” Sayler said.

“East Tennessee is well positioned to take advantage of the associated research and business opportunities.”

The symposium will include the dedication of UT’s Center for Nanomaterials Science, Imaging and Nanomanipulation and a public demonstration of its advanced nanotechnology tools.

While economic development experts predict whole new growth industries, environmentalists fear that minute nanoparticles, once released, could penetrate living tissue and do irreparable harm to humans, other animals and the environment.

“Through this symposium, we intend to address the huge economic and scientific potential of this new science as well as its potential liabilities and related public-policy issues,” said Jack Barkenbus, EERC executive director.

Symposium sessions will explore economic development prospects, research priorities, regional capabilities, including those at UT and ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, and environmental and public-policy issues and concerns.

The symposium agenda is available at http://eerc.ra.utk.edu/nano-adj.html.

A Web cast of the conference can be viewed at http://oit.utk.edu/dst/webevents.html.