A two-day conference called Nanoweek has started at Science Gallery in Dublin today to showcase the commercial applications of nanoscience research in Ireland, especially as the sector currently contributes to 10pc of annual Irish exports and is linked to around 120,000 jobs.
The two-day event is happening against the backdrop of Nanoweek, which will run until 21 September to promote public awareness of nanoscience and how it is contributing to the Irish economy.
As well as this, a new exhibition called Magic Materials has just started at Science Gallery to give visitors a glimpse of how nanoscience can impact us at an everyday level. Materials that will be on display during the exhibition will include graphene, a layer of graphite just one atom thick but 200 times stronger than steel, and aerogel – apparently the world’s lightest solid.
As for the Nanoweek conference that started today, it is an initiative of NanoNet Ireland, a non-profit network of academia, government and industry that is promoting nanoscience. The conference is being co-chaired by CRANN, the SFI-funded nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin.
Speakers from the research, industrial and investment communities will be exploring nanoscience research and its impact on industry sectors, such as materials, medical devices, electronic devices and sensors.
According to the organisers of the conference, nanoscience supports these sectors, resulting in €15bn of exports and up to 120,000 associated jobs in Ireland each year.
Over the next two days, experts in the field of nanoscience are set to discuss research areas such as energy storage, advances in diabetes treatment, and novel vaccine technologies.
Speakers will include Dr Valeria Nicolosi, principal investigator at CRANN, who will be exploring the scope for using nanotechnology to develop high-efficiency electrodes for energy storage. Bengt Kasemo, a professor of physics at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg will be covering his experiences of bringing this research to market. Meanwhile, Tony Cass, a professor of chemical biology at Imperial College London, will be covering the use of nanoscience to develop new blood-glucose sensors for diabetes.
"It is in the nanoworld that discoveries will be made and technologies developed which are likely to change our lives in the coming decades," said Prof Mark Ferguson, the head of Science Foundation Ireland. He noted that Ireland is currently ranked sixth globally for the impact of its nanoscience research.