Scientists in a number of disciplines are conducting the exciting research that will eventually serve as a foundation for a nanotechnology revolution. In addition to research, scientists participate in every step of the process of bringing a nanotech product to market. Scientists must have a solid background in all of the basic branches of science, as well as specialized knowledge in their own discipline. Most positions require computer expertise, especially nanotech-related jobs. Scientific work requires analytical thinking, a high degree of accuracy and precision, and the ability to work well either individually or as part of a team. Scientific jobs involving nanotechnology generally require an advanced degree.
Physicists study matter and energy and their interactions. Physics is sometimes called the “fundamental science,” since the laws of physics underlie every other branch of science. Regardless of their particular discipline, physicists tend to focus on theoretical physics, experimental physics, or applied physics. Physicists in all three areas contribute to developments in nanotechnology. They earn a median salary of about $87,500.
Chemists study the composition, structure, and properties of matter and the transformations matter undergoes during processes such as chemical reactions. Chemistry is a vast field, and most chemists work in a particular area. Chemists are at the forefront of academic research in nanotechnology. They're also employed in many of the industries pursuing nanotechnology, like the pharmaceutical and energy industries. Chemists earn a median salary of about $57,000.
Biologists are the scientists who study living organisms and their vital processes. Biology is a huge field of science, with myriad branches of specialization that often overlap. Nanotechnology is an area of interest in a number of different biological disciplines. Molecular biologists, for instance, study biology at the molecular level, which is also the nanoscale level. Biology and chemistry intersect in biochemistry, the study of the chemistry of living organisms. Biologists earn a median salary of about $51,000.
Materials scientists study the basic properties and functions of natural and man-made materials. Materials science is an interdisciplinary field that ranges across different branches of science and engineering. Although not a high-profile area of study, materials science is of vital importance to engineers working on projects from engines to skyscrapers. The emergence of a potential nanotechnology revolution has elicited a surge of interest in the possibilities of materials science, one of the areas of science most closely involved with nanotechnology. Materials scientists earn a median salary of about $70,500.
Pharmacologists study how drugs and other chemical substances interact with living organisms. They create drugs, test them, and analyze their effects. Nanotechnology has the potential to bring about a new generation of pharmaceuticals and drug delivery systems. Pharmacologists will oversee the creation of these new treatments, test their safety and effectiveness, recommend dosages, and determine appropriate circumstances for their use. In addition, they will study the general effects of nanoparticles of all kinds on humans and other organisms. Pharmacology requires a high degree of training and at least a doctorate degree. Pharmacologists are well compensated: Ph.D. pharmacologists entering the workplace earn an average salary of about $72,000 during their first few years of work.
Computer scientists conduct research into fundamental computer and information science. They work on both computer hardware and software. Computer scientists range from theorists employed by academic institutions to programmers, graphics designers, and network systems analysts. Computer science requires some formal education, at least a bachelor's degree, but relevant work experience is also highly desirable. These scientists are exploring how nanotechnology can be put to use in designing new computer drives, memory, and microchips. Computer scientists earn a median salary of about $88,000.