IRG 1: Pioneers of Nanotechnology Oral History Project

(David Brock)


The development of nanotechnology in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has left very few traces of the sort that historians have relied upon: paper manuscripts and documents. Communications have increasingly taken ephemeral electronic forms, as have reports, data, and other documentation. Since 2005, IRG-1 has documented the nano-enterprise with oral histories. Over a dozen of these have been collected and interviews/abstracts made available on the CNS-UCSB web site, with hard copies archived at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the American Institute of Physics’ Center for the History of Physics. This research continues with additional interviews conducted with a broad, international sample of leading and representative figures from the early development of nanotechnology. These extensive interviews, conducted before recollections become distorted with time and scrutinized against one another and the available documentary materials, will provide an invaluable map of the actions, motivations, and interpretations of key figures in the early development of nanotechnology. The group's goal is to add to the existing data base by creating two new oral histories a year through 2015, through a process of background research, audio-recorded interview sessions, and transcription. Completed oral histories will continue to be made publicly available via the CNS web site, with hard copies deposited at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. The selection of interviewees is guided by an attempt to provide a broad coverage of the diverse contexts in which nanotechnology activity has occurred.