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Ireland builds new nanotechnology research centre

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities---The Irish government has unveiled details of what will be Ireland's first purpose-built research institute.

The new Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures (CRANN), which will open in early 2006, will have for its mission 'to advance the frontiers of nanosciences where physics, chemistry and biology converge'.

'This new facility will have world-class facilities; house the activities of over 150 scientists and have ultra-low vibration laboratories [...], to allow highly sensitive measurements of nanoscale structures, and state-of-the-art clean rooms where even particles of dusts are carefully filtered out to allow high-purity fabrication of these tiny objects,' said Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin.

A total of 60 million euro has been invested in CRANN since 2001, with 11 million euro going towards the construction of the specialised vibration-free laboratory facilities. These laboratories will permit development of the point-probe microscopes needed to image the topography and chemistry of the nano-world, explained Mr Martin, adding that state of the art equipment will sculpt or assemble atomic and molecular building blocks.

The first phase of CRANN's scientific programme will focus on the physics and chemistry of materials, including biomolecules, which may be structured at the nanoscale with the aim of achieving novel device functionality. The four major research areas will be: membrane-fluid interface; self-assembled nanostructures; nanoscale contacts and spin electronics.

'As a centre of excellence, CRANN will seek to attract outstanding scientist and industrial partners,' said Mr Martin. 'This centre will also provide an ideal platform for Irish researchers to collaborate with their counterparts in the EU as nanotechnology is expected to form a significant plank of the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme (FP7),' he added.

'The establishment of CRANN at the end of next year provides Ireland with the opportunity to make nanotechnology what the software and pharmaceutical sectors have been to our economy in recent decades. It is in the nano-world that discoveries will be made and technologies developed which are likely to change our lives in the coming decades. Ireland's aim to develop as a knowledge-based economy requires an internationally competitive presence in research in this field,' concluded the minister.

CRANN involves collaboration between Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, the INTEL corporation and several Irish high-technology companies.

 


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