As nanotechnology companies continue to develop tiny, microscopic products to support scientific, medical and communications needs, their financial support could explode to enormous levels if they decide to go public.

Arrowhead Research, a Pasadena, Calif.-based, public investment company, is backed by mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments and the hedge fund company York Capital Management, according to the International Herald Tribune.

"As a public company, we can take a somewhat longer-term perspective on earning a return on investment," said John Miller, vice president business development at Arrowhead, which is advised by several professors at the California Institute of Technology.

Nanoparticles work at atomic scales and could produce semiconductors at smaller levels and at lower costs than manufacturing plants, he said.

The potential benefits for medicine, energy and many other fields are enormous, but some scientists are concerned that materials which are harmless at their full size could become toxic at the nanoparticle level.

Mihail Roco, senior adviser for nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation and an architect of the government's research effort, said that potential dangers and adverse effects of nanoparticles on air, water and soil were being studied.

Roco predicts that by 2015, nanotechnology will play a crucial role in $1 trillion worth of products, requiring "two million workers."

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