Interview with Bharat Bhushan

Bhushan_14 © Bharat BushanBharat Bhushan, editor of the successful Springer Handbook of Nanotechnology, shares his opinion on the impact of nanotechnology on society and his experiences as a long-time editor of leading references.  

Since its first edition in 2004 the Springer Handbook of Nanotechnology has established itself as the definitive reference in the area of nanotechnology and nanoscience, as it covers this vast field in one comprehensive and easily-accessible volume, meeting the needs of an application-oriented audience.

The fourth edition of your authoritative reference has just been published. Why is nanotechnology still a hot research topic?

Bharat Bhushan: Nanotechnology refers to any technology done on a nanoscale that has applications in the real world, where the properties of matter  differ from those at a larger scale.  Once the size drops below 100 nm, dramatic changes in properties can occur.  The unique physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials can be exploited for commercial applications and for novel performance that benefits society.  Nanotechnology’s impact on our society and economy in the 21st century is comparable to that of semiconductor technology, information technology, or cellular and molecular biology in the 20th century. It will continue to have a profound impact on our economy and society; it is a modern industrial revolution,  a megatrend, bringing disruptive innovation.  It has become a general purpose technology, being applicable across various industrial sectors.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the years to come?

BB: There are many. Some of which include translation of basic research to technology commercialization; mass manufacturing on a nanoscale; environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues in nanomaterials; public perception and societal engagement; and nanoscience and nanotechnology education and training. All of which are addressed in the book.

How can the research in the field help in the context of the grand societal challenges?

BB: There are many fields. But the biggest impact will probably come from biomedical applications.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in this field?

BB: I have worked on nanoscale characterization and nanofabrication for many years. Getting into the field of nanotechnology in mid-1990s was natural for me. It has been an exciting journey and I have loved the ride.

What is the most exciting part of your current research?

BB: My major focus is on design and fabrication of bioinspired surfaces for various applications. To provide functionality, biological materials generally have hierarchical structure with dimensions of features ranging from the macroscale to the nanoscale. With expertise in nanomanufacturing, we are able to fabricate bioinspired structures with unique functionalities.

You edited four editions of the “Springer Handbook of Nanotechnology” and you are also the editor of other big works, like the Encyclopedia of Nanotechnology. What advice would you share with someone contemplating to edit a big book?

BB: It is a major undertaking and requires vision, significant organizational skills and commitment. One needs to have a network of experts who look up to the editor.

What was your personal highlight in your career as a book editor?

BB: I have been able to bring together multiple topics from diverse disciplines in order to develop new fields.  I have gotten to know the wide field of nanotechnology more closely. I have developed new ties with experts worldwide.

 For whom is the book a “must-read”?

BB: This handbook is intended for three types of readers:  graduate students of nanotechnology, researchers in academia and industry who are active or intend to become active in this field, and practicing engineers and scientists who have encountered a problem and hope to solve it as expeditiously as possible. 

More information: Springer Handbook of Nanotechnology