Wednesday’s Plenary Session

Kristin: I’m back in my room reflecting on another day of talks here at COMS2008. My brain’s a bit full, but it’s worth noting the plenary session this morning. The presentations again nicely covered the main theme of COMS – models for innovation, specific applications of nanotechnology and regional development. They were:

  1. The MESA Concept: A model for fostering multidisciplinary innovation – Gil Herrara
  2. Nanocomposites: Thin film devices from photovoltaics to nanoelectronics – Seamus Curran
  3. Alberta & Canada – Your partners in micro and nanotechnology – Rick Brommeland

The MESA Concept: A model for fostering multidisciplinary innovation – Gil Herrara

Gil spoke about projects at Sandia National Laboratories, where the primary objective of the MESA facility is to do focus on key critical components that cannot or should not be obtained commercially. The facility focosed on technologies falling intoΒ  Tech Readiness levels 1 to 6. Gil spoke about three main things.

Firstly, he spoke about the ‘tight coupling’ of manufacturing to basic science and computational simulation that brings thier success in developing microsystems. Sandia has experts in synthesis, characterization and theory for for atom-level chem & physics, advacned computation and high performance supercomputing, test and validation methods and engineering complex systems.

Secondly, they have in-house expertise to support multiple enabling technologies, such as flexible fabrication, photonics, compound semiconductors, advanced packing, piezoelectrics and micro-machining. They use a borad definition of microsystems – any function that helps sense, think, act or talk.

Finally he profiled thier deep competency in electronics packaging and explained that the packaging is just as important as the MEMS device it protects and enables. Key things to address include the thinness of device, management of power, allowance for different environments (including space!).

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Nanocomposites: Thin film devices from photovoltaics to nanoelectronics – Seamus Curran

Seamus looked at the differences and potential combinations of the top-down, inorganic world and the bottom-up, organic world of polymers. He spoke about how these two types of matter could be combined to provide novel behaviours and potential new applications (a scientific mash-up!)

Seamus diagreed with Tim Harper about the bubble market and anticipated a market of more than $1-2 trillion dollars for 2015 as nanotechnology evolved into different sectors such as biotechnology and energy.

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Alberta & Canada – Your partners in micro and nanotechnology – Rick Brommeland

After hearing about Mexico yesterday, it was interesting to turn to Canada, specifically Alberta.Β  Canada makes a similar investment in nanotechnology funding to Australia and is keen to sttract more private investment. The major Canadian university precincts in nanotechnology are Britih Columbia, Ontoario, Quebec and Alberta. Alberta is centred on the Univeristy of Alberta and the University of Calagary, and public sector investment in nano is $13.50 per person per year. In addition, there is also the National Institute for Nanotechnology and the Alberta Ingenuity Nano Accelarator. Investment to 2007 has been $250 m with a further $220 M expected by 2012. They are particularly focused on applcxiations in agriculture, plus health and materials and have a rnage of international research and industry relationships. If you’re interested in Alberta – just call!

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