Jennifer: Since the early 1990s, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has funded the development of numerous nano communication programs aimed at the German public. Since 2006, the BMBF has contributed some three hundred million euros to the development of education and training in nanotechnology, as part Germany’s five-year Nano-Initiative – Aktionsplan 2010.
Germany has also established itself as the European leader in nanotechnology in terms of small to medium enterprise activity and big business enterprise. There are more than three hundred nanotechnology companies in Europe over a third are based in Germany.
This year, Berlin will host Nanotech Europe, Europe’s largest nanotechnology conference and exhibition. Between 28 and 30 September 2009, the international nanotech community will convene at the Technische Universität Berlin to discuss cutting-edge research and industrial applications of nanotechnology.
Nanotech Europe is organised by a consortium of companies, including AgeNT-D, the working group of the Centres of Competence of Nanotechnology in Germany. The nine Centres of Competence, located throughout Germany, span the entire research field of nanotechnology. AgeNT-D also facilitates the Centre for New Technologies (ZNT) at the Deutches Museum, Munich. The Deutsches Museum is the world’s largest museum of technology and science, and houses a permanent core exhibition on nano and biotechnology with topical changing exhibitions and laboratories. The exhibition “Everyday Life with Nanoproducts” was opened in 2007 and features over seventy products based on nanotechnology that are already commercially available, including coatings, clothing, kitchenware, domestic products and nanoelectronics.
The Deutches Museum also heads the “NanoToTouch” project. The European Commission-funded project involves a fully-functional Scanning Probe Microscopy laboratory. Visitors have the opportunity to interact with nanoscientists who demonstrate various applications of nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology communication continues on board the NanoTruck and SciencExpress. Both truck and train are travelling nanotech communication centres. The double-decker NanoTruck has been travelling for several years through numerous European countries with its “High-Tech from the Nanocosmos” exhibition, communicating the role of nanotechnology in medical research, environmental conservation and energy storage. Germans can make requests on-line for the NanoTruck to stop in their home town.
The “SciencExpress” departed Berlin in April 2009 on its “Expedition Zukunft”. The train is making a round trip of Germany to arrive back in Berlin in November. The tour itinerary- which includes sixty cities- was devised in collaboration with Germany’s national rail service, the Deutsche Bahn. Visitors to SciencExpress embark on a journey into the future which examines how our lives are being shaped by science and technology. The journey begins in the first carriage with information on basic scientific research and continues in the consecutive eleven carriages with an insight into digitalisation, communication and miniaturisation.
In December 2009 I will embark on my own journey, to Germany, and hope to have the opportunity to engage with interactive nano communication programs such as these.