CUPERTINO, Calif - Despite increasing awareness of the demand for environmentally safe consumer products, barriers for commercial production remain - a dichotomy especially severe in the rapidly growing field of nanotechnology.

To address this situation, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) and the Safer Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Initiative (SSNI) will host the Greener Nano 2011 Conference and Workshop May 1-3 in California. The events will be at the Hotel Valencia in San Jose and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s site in Cupertino.

"There is a national push to think about the safe development of nanotech from its conception," said Robert Tanguay, a professor of molecular toxicology in Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, and a leader in national initiatives for safety in nanotechnology. "There is a shift toward greening the technology right out of the gate, rather than as an afterthought. It's the difference in proactive versus reactive design in safer technologies."

Nanotechnologies have experienced rapid growth in the last decade, and nanoparticles are now found in consumer products ranging from laundry soap to eyeliner. However, their environmental impact is largely unknown, and increasingly controversial.

A recent study from Queen's University found that the silver nanoparticles used in many consumer products may harm beneficial soil bacteria, potentially resulting in a hostile environment for plants. While it remains unclear if these effects were directly caused by silver nanoparticles, it is known that most products in commerce have not had the advantage of being designed from the ground up with a mind toward greener innovation, said Tanguay.

The upcoming workshop and conference will bring together policymakers, industry, students and researchers to discuss advancing a "greener" nanotechnology. Plenary speaker for the conference isĀ  Stanley Williams, senior fellow at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and founding director of the HP Quantum Science Research Group. He will discuss the sustainable development of nanotechnology in the next decades.

More information on the conference is available at

About the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute: ONAMI is the first Signature Research Center for the advancement of research toward the commercialization of innovative technology within Oregon and the Northwest. It represents an unprecedented collaboration between Oregon's three public research universities - University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University - and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the state of Oregon, and the region's high-technology industries.

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Robert Tanguay, 541-737-6514