Nanotechnology takes hold in SE Minnesota
But the technology isn't without its cynics. Reams of money is flowing toward development research compared to the money spent to study the technology's safety and environmental impacts. And that concerns some scientists, investors and insurance companies worried about nanotech's potential risks, said Jennifer Kuzma, a professor for the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
"These conversations are going on," said Kuzma, a molecular biologist and biochemist. "Startups need to be aware of them and do what they can to protect the workers."
Only 2.5 percent of nanotech funding in 2009 went to studying its impact on health and the environment, according to the National Nanotechnology Initiative's 2011 federal budget supplement.
Fox called the amount "a drop in the bucket."
"Nobody wants their product to have health issues," Fox said.
The nanotech-enabled coating Hypersonic makes is probably safe, Kuzma said. Her main concerns are the free-floating nanoparticles found in products such as cosmetics.