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Nanotechnology, which produces new materials and devices by manipulating matter at the atomic level, could be the next big thing, say Wall Street investors like Josh Wolfe, editor of the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report, and managing partner of Lux Capital. Wolfe’s nanotech portfolio is up more than 200 percent since its start in 2002.

American Way: Give examples of how nanotechnology will change the world.
Josh Wolfe: Right now, they’re developing ultralightweight, durable computer displays that can be rolled up like a sheet of paper. And consider cancer treatment. Today, it’s like leeching was a hundred years ago, literally poisoning people with chemotherapy and radiation. Nanotechnology will allow us to recognize and destroy individual surface receptors on a cancer cell and kill only them, leaving healthy tissue untouched.

American Way: Suddenly, we see references to nanotech everywhere.
Wolfe: Yes. But not everyone who claims they’re in nanotech is a good company to invest in. There are some complete charlatans out there.

American Way: Will there be a “nano bubble” like we saw with the dot-com fiasco?
Wolfe: We’re now about where they were in 1993 with the Internet. Many of the pure-play nanotech companies haven’t come to market yet. There will be an IPO or other market catalyst in the next year that will set off a Netscapelike phenomenon. That’s exciting, but scary. As with any asset class, more companies will get funded than can possibly survive.

American Way: So overhyping is inevitable?
Wolfe: Yes, but it’s like the Internet. It’s been underhyped in its technical abil­ities, but was overhyped in its near-term financial ability. That will happen with nanotech. Industries and technologies change, but human nature is constant. A few people will make an enormous amount of money; many others will lose a lot of money.
— Chris Tucker