CRANN researchers involved in €1.4m EU nanotech projects

21 Jul 2011

Two researchers at the SFI-funded CRANN group are involved in separate nanotech projects that are worth €1.4m. One involves next-generation chemical and gas sensors and the other focuses on magnetic waves.

The researchers – professors Igor Shvets and Stefano Sanvito – are participating in pan-European research projects worth €1.4m as part of NanoSci ERA-NET+.

Sanvito’s project aims to develop the next generation of chemical and gas sensors, capable of detecting poisonous and polluting gases at an unprecedented level of accuracy. These revolutionary sensors are based on nano-engineered materials, namely mixtures of gold nanoparticles (the diameter of one is about 20 billionths of a metre) and organic molecules. The project aims to deliver sensors capable of continuously monitoring pollution levels in urban areas and within industrial environments. The project involves researchers from Ireland, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Shvets has been working with two teams of researchers: the University of Munster in Germany and Catalan Centre for Advanced Research (ICREA) in Barcelona, Spain. Their project focuses on understanding and controlling magnetic properties in nanostructures. More specifically, they are interested in the behaviour of magnetic waves, or spin waves, which could provide enhanced microwave power emission. Possible uses are in mobile communications and other miniature ICT devices.

Nanoscience: a US$3trn opportunity

“Ireland is helping to lead the future development of the nanoscience sector, which is underlined by the country’s ranking at sixth in the world for nanoscience research,” said Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, director of CRANN. “Our participation in NanoSci ERA-NET+ highlights the stature of our researchers and infrastructure on the world stage. With researchers like professors Shvets and Sanvito continuing to attract funding, I am confident that we can break new ground and bring even more investment to our shores.”

“In the next four years, the global market value of nanoscience will reach US$3trn. About €15bn of Ireland’s annual exports is associated with nanotechnology and more than 150,000 employees work in companies in which nanotechnology plays a role. Due to our participation in world-leading research, we are continuing to attract companies, both at home and abroad, to participate in our industry engagement programme. This illustrates how research provides a real economic return in terms of job creation and spin-off companies.”

Shvets and Sanvito recently showcased their work at a major conference hosted by CRANN and SFI, which brought together nanoscientists from the European Research Area.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years