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The Significance of Nanoscience to the Irish Economy Emphasised at International Nanotechnology Symposium
An international symposium on nanotechnology, featuring leaders of world nanoscience institutes hosted by Trinity College's Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) took place today (Monday, March 9) in the Science Gallery at TCD.
International speakers described the growth of their respective nanoscience institutions and research activity that has a direct economic impact in their countries - to an audience of Irish scientists, industry and government agencies gathered at the conference. The economic significance of nanoscience and the benefits of supporting research in Ireland and sustaining investment was a focal point throughout the conference.
Nanoscience, which is the study of objects less than 100 nanometres, is now seen as a key enabling technology providing future benefits in core areas of social concern such as energy and the environment; health and well being; and communications. New technologies emerging from nanoscience are set to yield the next generation of microelectronics, drug delivery systems and medical imaging techniques among many other areas.
In the last five years, Ireland has had significant Government investment through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) in nanoscience, enabling Irish research in this field to make a real impact on the global stage. A testament to this investment is that it is currently ranked 6th in the world*.
Speaking at the Symposium, Professor Frank Gannon, Director General, SFI said: "Ireland is now beginning to reap the benefits of SFI's investment in research. The recently announced Irish Government's ‘Building Ireland's Smart Economy' framework prioritises continued investment in science and engineering to support the restructuring of the economy, including the formation of a knowledge based enterprise sector, high-quality employment and first-class infrastructure. Through the Centre for Science Technology and Engineering (CSET) and Strategic Research Cluster programmes, SFI researchers now collaborate with over 125 distinct companies and the economic benefits from this are emerging. CRANN's engagements with Intel and Hewlett-Packard are significant in terms of scale and ambition, representing model industry academic interactions. Our anticipation is that the body of excellent research that SFI supports in CRANN will give rise to further examples of strengthening linkages with companies in Ireland and to new enterprises coming into existences in the next years."
Since its foundation as a SFI Centre for Science Technology and Engineering (CSET), Trinity's CRANN has played a pivotal role in this process and has developed a growing international reputation as a leading research institute in the area of nanoscience.
Commenting on its impact, CRANN Director, Professor John Boland said: "CRANN has proved over the last five years that by focussing on delivering world class scientific research, Ireland can attract significant industry interest and the best researchers from around the world. CRANN in partnership with our industry partners, Intel and Hewlett-Packard, is aiding in establishing Ireland as a viable location for nanoscience research."
Outlining some of Ireland's challenges in nanoscience, guest speaker and internationally renowned nanoscience expert, Professor Charlie Lieber of the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at Harvard University, said: "Ireland has a growing reputation internationally for its scientific research. There is a real opportunity now for Ireland to build on this momentum and establish itself as a competitive location for Research and Development. To do so it must continue to invest to support research and focus on its areas of strength - including nanoscience."
Other guest speakers at the symposium included Professor Gabriel Aeppli of the London Centre for Nanotechnology, Professor Dave Blank, University of Twente, Nanoned, the Netherlands and Professor Anja Boisen, DTU Nanotech, Department of Micro-and Nanotechnology, Denmark. These speakers described the growth of their own nanoscience institutions and highlighted the importance of the institutes in providing an international profile for research in their home countries and in stimulating research activity which provides direct economic impact.
The opportunities and challenges facing nanotechnology were discussed by Professor Charlie Lieber, School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Professor Hermann Gaub, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen, Munich Germany and Professsor Millie Dresselhause, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts. The speakers highlighted in particular the role nanoscience will have in three core areas: energy and the environment, health - with particular focus on diagnostics and communications.
The TCD Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) is a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded Centre for Science and Engineering Technology (CSET). CRANN is the centre for excellence for nanoscience in Ireland which is headed up by director, Professor John Boland and executive director, Dr Diarmuid O’Brien. CRANN builds on the research expertise in the Schools of Physics and Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin and the Schools of Chemistry at UCC. Since its foundation in 2003, its leading research experts (Principal Investigators) have more than tripled to 16, with many recruited internationally. The post-doctoral and postgraduate population now exceeds 140. CRANN has developed important industrial partnerships with Intel and Hewlett-Packard and there are currently ten industry researchers- in-residence working within the Institute, with over 50 researchers directly involved in collaboration with these companies. CRANN has three research areas: Spin electronics and sensors; Integrate nanoscale devices and BioNanoAssay and sensing.
CRANN is also the lead administrative partner of the nanoscience consortium, the Integrated NanoScience Platform for Ireland (INSPIRE), comprising ten third level institutions on an all-island basis.
*Ireland was ranked 6th in the world by Nature Nanotechnology Study (October, 2006)
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