I plan on joining the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme next year and eventually pursuing a career in nanotechnology. I am confused about what science subjects I should be choosing for my course. I am told that I should be studying at least three science subjects and one of them should be maths. Is this correct? Also, can you suggest universities in the UK and US that offer courses in this field?
Nidhi, Dubai

Dubbed as the technology of the future, it is believed that nanotechnology will be the panacea to most of our problems.

More than a managerial profession, nanotechnology is a research field, engaged in finding new structures and studying the properties of nano particles.

It is the technology based on the scale of "nanometres". To put it in perspective, the proportional difference between a nanometre and a metre is the same as that between a golf ball and the Earth.

With nanotechnology atoms and molecules can be worked upon in creating computer chips and other devices many times smaller than currently available using contemporary technology. The main divisions in the field include nano material, nano electronics, nano biotechnology and nano medicine. Two interesting inventions in the field of medicine are nano robots and nano tweezers.

All sections of society, be it aerospace, telecommunication, environment, energy, computers, electronics, forensics, military, movies, video games and so on, are affected by nano technology.

By the year 2015, it is estimated that nanotechnology will have grown to a $1 trillion (Dh3.67 trillion) industry.

To study nanotechnology, you should have a good background in physics and chemistry. Skills in mathematics and computer programming will be an asset.

As you will be a student of IB you could take physics and chemistry from division 4 and maths from division 5. You do not need to study three sciences.

Being a relatively young science, the subject is more readily available at a postgraduate level than at graduate level.

Universities in the UK that offer the subject at graduate level include Sussex, Leeds, UCL, Leicester and Heriot Watt. Universities offering the course in the US include Penn State, Wisconsin, California, San Diego, Central Florida and Pennsylvania.