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June 15th, 2008
Tiny science tests Russia's hi-tech ambitions
cientists across Russia are setting their minds to new inventions to net some of the billions of state dollars being poured into the field of nanotechnology. But they remain sceptical after years of neglect by the government.
Thermal cameras to detect breast cancer, sensors for spotting pipeline leaks and special coatings to prolong the life of industrial equipment were among the nano-devices on display at a business forum in Saint Petersburg this month.
"I think we will soon be able to give the world more than just military technology, vodka, satellites and perestroika," said Leonid Melamed, head of a new nanotechnology state corporation, Rosnanotekh, speaking at the forum.
"These inventions will take the world by storm," he said.
Nanotechnology involves the use of tiny structures measured in nanometres -- one-billionth of a metre -- that scientists can manipulate to create items as varied as solar heating panels and human organs.
Rosnanotekh was set up last year with a budget of five billion dollars (3.2 billion euros), an unprecedented level of funding for Russian scientists starved of resources since the 1991 Soviet collapse.
The corporation aims to make the creations of Russian scientists commercially viable and, through co-financing, to promote private investment -- the main source of technology funding in countries such as Japan and the United States.
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