Environmental and Biological Risks of Nanobiotechnology, Nanobionics and Hybrid Organic-Silicon Nanodevices (Silicon vs Carbon)

18.06.2008 - 20.06.2008

Advanced Research Workshops (ARWs) are working meetings of about four days' duration, where scientists and engineers researching at the frontiers of a subject are able to engage in an intense but informal exchange of views, aiming at a critical assessment of existing knowledge and identification of directions for future actions. Attendance at ARWs is mainly by invitation, but a few places are available for particularly well-qualified scientists upon application to the co-directors of the particular ARW.

As each meeting is held under the responsibility of its individual directors, all requests for information, attendance or support should be addressed to the co-directors listed. Participation or tuition fees are not required from participants. Some attendees from NATO countries, Partner countries or Mediterranean Dialogue countries may obtain grants from the meeting co-directors to assist with travel and living expenses.



  • to review and deepen the knowledge of new aspects organization, interrelations and interactions of the live organisms and the artificial technical systems for design of the hybrid systems;
  • to analyze the potential risks of nanobiotechnologies and formulating of perspectives of the bionic approach to creation of intellectual technical systems.


All around the world huge efforts are made to develop nanotechnologies and nanobiotechnologies in the context of state research programs and the programs of private corporations. Therefore the problem of risks of nanotechnology development is highly relevant.

At the same time there are many discoveries in the area of biology and biotechnology. It makes the discussion of convergence of biological and physical approaches extremely important.

The problems of Silicon vs. Carbon is a metaphor of the coming epoque of artificial nanodevices and their implementation in live systems.

In the earth's crust silicon is one of the most widespread elements (its amount is equal to half of the mass of sand). However, the silicon content in living organisms is insignificant. Carbon can build chains like silicon: perhaps this is why carbon is in vivo hostile. To prevent silicon from getting into a living organism, there are very strict methods for biological control. However, with the progress of nanotechnologies the interaction of silicon-based devices with living organisms could be more and more complicated and dangerous. Evidently, hybrid nanostructures might constitute an even greater threat in the future.

This discussion will address similarity and differences in the living nature and technologies at the molecular, information and technological levels. An example is Moore’s Law and the human brain.

With the penetration of technologies into supra-atomic dimensions not only the risks of the environment contamination are growing. (If they polluter the soil, it will be practically impossible to eliminate them). After the emergence of hybrid (first of all, organic-silicon) devices the danger for biosphere and biocenose will dramatically increase. The possible consequences should be examined before these devices have been developed. Besides the environment contamination, the possibility of incorporation of artificial nanodevices inside the living organisms involves great uncertainty and direct threat to these organisms.

In studying the strategies for the civilization advancement:, the following questions arise:

Should the civilization turn gradually to carbon, and, waste less technologies respectively?

Is it possible to create contrariwise, something resembling silicon-based life, when devices, after their service life, could be recycled by “artificial silicon bacteria”?

What will be the dangers from the interaction of the silicon world and the carbon world in the long run?

During billions of years several times global changes in climate, soil, and atmosphere have taken place.

As a result, there are no rivals to carbon life in the nature.

Moreover, all living organisms consist of the same amino acids and have the triplet genetic code.

Is there a chance that the silicon based civilization might become a competitor to carbon life?.

Could this competition lead to catastrophic consequences for the living world, and for man, in particular?.

The range of this issues is now practically not addressed. The Workshop addressing these topics can become an annual event because of its strategic importance.

A wide circle of specialists will take part in the Workshop: molecular biologists, biotechologists, originators of computers and telecommunication systems, specialists in molecular science.

The problems of social-ethical control of nanotechnology- and nanobiotechnology will be discussed. The role of scientists in raising the awareness of public will be discussed as well.

The aim of the Workshop is analysis of principles of organization, interrelations and interactions of living organisms and artificial technical systems for design of hybrid systems.

The topics of the Workshop are discussion of potential risks of nanobiotechnologies and formulation of prospects of the bionic approach to creation of intellectual technical systems.

The workshop will cover 3 days and will be held in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is often referred to as the Venice of the North or the Paris of the East, but its beauty is really a brand all its own. From the White Nights festival during the mysterious summer twilight to top theater and ballet productions and concerts on magical winter evenings, the city offers a vibrant cultural life. More information and virtual tour: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/

The Workshop will be divided into three sections:

Section 1

Perspectives and limitations of bionic and non-bionic nanotechnological approaches.

Chairs: Dr. Yu. Magarshak (USA) and Prof. L. Gribov (RF)

Section 2

Technological prospects of hybrid nanodevices and new risks for the biocenose and the environment contamination.

Chairs: Dr. O. Figovsky (Israel) and Dr. Sergey Kozyrev (RF)

Section 3

Nanotechnology and Nanobiotechnology: risks and problems of social-ethical control.

Chairs: Prof. Pal Tamas (Hungary), Academician Vyacheslav Stepin (RF)


NATO-country co-director:

  • Yuri Magarshak
  • President MathTech, Inc. and Executive vice-president of the International Committee for Intellectual Collaboration (USA, New York).
  • ym4@nyu.edu

Partner-country co-director:

  • Sergey Kozyrev
  • Director and Leading Researcher of Center for Advanced Studies of the St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University (Russia, Saint-Petersburg).
  • kozyrev@spbcas.ru