Ireland in global top 10 for materials science research

7 Oct 2010

Ireland has been ranked eighth in the world for the quality of its research into materials science, which includes nanoscience – an area pivotal to future innovations in electronics and materials.

The data comes from the Essential Science Indicators database of Thomson Reuters and covered the period of January 2000 to April 2010.  

Ireland’s ranking of eight out of 162 countries is well ahead of larger nations, such as France, Canada, Australia and Japan.

Of Ireland’s top 20 research papers, 14 came from researchers in Trinity College Dublin. Ireland’s top 5 and eight of the top 10 were from researchers in TCD’s dedicated nanoscience institute, CRANN, drawing on the skills and research excellence of the College’s Schools of Physics and Chemistry and the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering.

Two of the top 5 papers were by CRANN principal investigator, Prof Jonathan Coleman, from the School of Physics, who was recently awarded a prestigious European Research Council Starter Grant. The research papers featured his work on carbon nanotubes.

“Ireland’s ranking at eighth in the world is testament to the investment in nanoscience over the past decade which has resulted in some of the world’s leading research taking place here,” Prof John Boland, director of CRANN, explained.

“These rankings are critical as they increase Ireland’s competitiveness amongst research institutes around the world who compete for non-exchequer and corporate funding for research programmes. Ireland’s growing expertise and global recognition of the quality of the work being done here is essential to attracting international funding.”

Ranking is by citations per paper among nations that published 1,000 or more papers during the period to reveal weighted impact.

Above average

Essential Science Indicators lists nations ranked in the top 50pc for a field over a given period based on total citations. In materials science, 81 nations are listed, meaning 162 countries were surveyed.

Some 47 nations published at least 1,000 papers in this field during the period. The world average in citation impact was 6.49. Ireland is well above that average at 9.23.

“Nanoscience has been a research priority for Trinity College for many years now,” Trinity’s dean of research, Dr David Lloyd, explained.

“Our investment in both physical infrastructure and building a critical mass of investigators in our centres, schools and research institutes has paid dividend through the realisation of world-leading scientific output.

“These research activities are additionally shaping our wider educational curriculum, with new structured PhD programmes and undergraduate degrees courses in nanoscience in Trinity advancing the next generation of Irish-based researchers in this domain,” Lloyd said.

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