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Saturday, April 17, 2010

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Author : Proyashi Barua


Nanotechnolgy is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. Contrary to common perception, nanotechnology is not new and has been in use since the Roman era. “The contemporary essence of nanotechnology can be understood in the context of manufacturing. Nanotechnology entails manufacturing at the nano level wherein per-capita consumption of useful materials is significantly reduced. This helps in reducing costs and achieving economies of scale. Moreover, at the nano stage, matter is at its purest form. Hence, nanotechnology is all about manufacturing products that are free of defect,” says J Narayan, Department of Material Sciences and Engineering, North Carolina State University, US.

According to Narayan,    current collaborations in this field exist in the area of information exchange. “There is scope for collaborating in terms of the actual manufacturing process and for discussing future areas of application as well” he shares.

   Alain Cappy, Professor, University of Science and Technology, Lille, France and Chairman of C'Nano Group, France adds, “Nanotechnology has to move beyond the confines of a lab to make a mark in industry. R&D in this domain has to be socially responsible. Such activities necessitate collaborations between educational institutions, policy organisations and industries at the global level.”

   As to how collaborations with foreign universities can help in improving research in nanoscience and nanotechnology, MP Singh, Director, Ansal Institute of Technology says, “A nucleus of select institutes can be created through research collaborations. This nucleus should facilitate scholarly interaction between international conferences, seminars and workshops.” Nanotechnology has impacted the domain of information technology by generating novel semiconductors and displays, nanologics and quantum computers. It plays a role in the food industry too. Its applications include diagnosis and treatment of disease, drug delivery and conservation of energy and environment, to name a few areas.
Given its cost effective    proposition, nanotechnology holds promise for developing countries. However, most of these countries lag behind developed nations as far as discussions and explorations are concerned. Addressing this concern, Cappy says, “The best way is probably to strengthen human relations between scientists of developing and developed nations. Educating young scientists in the best labs is also a good idea. These scientists can eventually return to their countries to apply their learning. Also, developed nations have to multiply the number of grants to welcome students from developing nations.”
   Talking about India’s requirements in terms of nanotechnology, Singh says, “The government has recently approved a proposal to invest Rs 1,000 crore under a five-year nanoscience and technology mission. There is a growing demand for trained manpower. The emphasis should be on industry-oriented postgraduate programmes in nanotechnology so that scholars trained in relevant areas are employable in emerging industries. In fact, active research is a priority in some of India’s research centres. More such research initiatives should be encouraged through industry tie-ups.”

   So how does one encourage bright minds? “With large funds allocated to develop nanotechnology in India, we should attract students through the National Science Talent Search scheme. Also, special funds should be allocated to focus on students who have completed their class 12 exams and are waiting to be selected for higher studies in this field,” shares Singh.


The starting point of a career in nanotechnology would be a strong bachelor’s degree in science or engineering followed by a master’s degree in nanotechnology or integrated MSc-PhD Nanotech or an integrated MSc or MTech.

Skills required:

A scientific bent of mind and an interest in research are qualities that are expected of those who want to pursue nanotechnology.

Source : Times of India
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