Thailand plans to spend $340 million a year on nanotechnology research
(Nanowerk News) The Ministry of Science and Technology of Thailand plans to invest more than 12 billion baht (about US$342 million) a year in research and development of nanotechnology.
Its target is for nano products to eventually contribute at least 1% of the gross domestic product.
Sirirurg Songsivilai, director of the ministry's National Nanotechnology Centre (Nanotec), said the aim is to use the technology to add value to products in fields such as food, medicine, energy and textiles.
''The country is only on the first rung of nano development, but I believe we can develop faster than other countries because of the strong attention from many sectors,'' Mr Sirirurg said on the sidelines of the NanoThailand Symposium in Bangkok yesterday.
He said Nanotec and nano-products manufacturers had already produced nano-goods on a commercial scale, and a number of items were being tested.
The symposium continues at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre until Sunday. About 80 organisations from private and state agencies are taking part, exchanging information on the progress of micro-particle technology.
Several nano products are on display, including waterproof textiles, nano cosmetics and a solar cell system.
The highlight is the introduction of the country's first bacteria-free ambulance developed by Chulalongkorn University's Centre of Innovation Nano Technology.
The centre's nano materials expert Sanong Ekasit said the ambulance is coated with silver nano particles.
''We covered the ambulance with 70 nanometre-sized silver particles. The particles help kill bacteria on the vehicle's body.
We can coat the ambulance with different sizes of silver nano to make it free of viruses and fungus as well,'' Mr Sanong said.
Nanotechnology can also be used in forensic science.
Joydeep Dutta, a team leader of nano study at the Asian Institute of Technology, said he was working on using nanotechnology to help detectives easily see unclear fingerprints at crime scenes.
''It is very simple,'' said the researcher. ''Spray gold and chitosan particles on an area and if there are any fingerprints they will pop up in from two to 30 minutes.''
Investigators often find it difficult to get clear copies of fingerprints if they are faint or old as the secretions evaporate.
''Sweat quickly disappears, but not the fatty acid which can remain for several days and these nanoparticles help us see the fingerprint,'' said Mr Dutta.
Nano solar cells are another material in the making.
Mr Sirirurg said Nanotec and its partners were developing solar cells that can generate electricity about 10% more efficiently than conventional solar cells.
''We can say that it is a very impressive level, which has been widely accepted among international institutes, but our aim is to increase electricity generating capacity by 12% in the next four years,'' said Mr Sirirurg.