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Nanotechnology Education and Research
Singapore is an island country located in southeastern Asia between Malaysia and Indonesia. It covers a total area of 697 km2 with a population of 5,353,494 as of July 2012.
Singapore has a prosperous market-based economy. Despite the global economic downturn of 2009 when its economy contracted 1.0%, it rebounded to 14.8% in 2010 and 4.9% in 2011. The country has the fifth busiest ports in the world, and prides itself to be corruption-free. The GDP of Singapore was $314.9 billion in 2011.
Singapore has an organisations and networks committed to promoting and exploring nanoscience. A brief introduction to the chief nanotechnology-related organisations in Singapore is given below:
Nanocluster – The Nanoscience & Nanotechnology Cluster (NanoCluster) is a NTU-wide network of research centres that includes shared facilities for nanofabrication, nanocharacterization, and exploitation of nanotechnology applications.
Nanotechnology is a diverse field that links many different applications and industries. The major nanotechnology companies in Singapore are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:
Nanoglobe – NanoGlobe was founded and is managed by Dr. Lerwen Liu, “Asia’s Nanotech Ambassador.” The company specialises in government and corporate strategy, business development, information intelligence and networking, especially in the Asia Pacific Rim. For the past 10 years, Dr. Liu and her team of analysts and partners have been actively connecting and serving nanotechnology leaders worldwide and driving nanotech businesses towards sustainable development.
Nanomaterials Technology – NanoMaterials Technology Pte Ltd (NMT) is a technology-based company founded and incorporated in Singapore in 2000. NMT specializes in the development, manufacturing, commercialization, and licensing of nanomaterial products for various markets such as oil and gas, coatings, plastics, glass, electronic materials, pharmaceutical and specialty chemicals.
NanoYo - nanoYo™ was founded in Japan more than 18 years ago. It is a liquid whose active ingredient is an n-type semiconductor photo-catalyst: nano-sized titanium dioxide (TiO2) particles. Responsive to light, it is an antimicrobial, dedorising, UV-blocking, long-lasting treatment that can be used in a variety of applications and situations. Their head office is located Singapore.
Omniyo - Omniyo Pte Ltd was established in 2011 to bring together the latest advancements in nanoscience technology for the masses as a product and/or service that is affordable and practical. One of the most immediate aims of Omniyo is to make the environment a safer and healthier place through the propagation of breakthrough healthcare technologies that transform surfaces to become "self-sanitizing" in which deleterious bacteria and viruses are eliminated upon contact so as to reduce the risk of infections and promote greater hygiene throughout the world.
Quantum Precision Instruments - Welcome to Quantum Precision Instruments, also known as Quantum-π, a nanotechnology company that is developing two different product families based on quantum tunnelling principles. Their sensors are unmatched in sensitivity. nanoTrek® dimensional metrology devices address the current problems associated with the next generation of metrological devices in the microelectronics and scientific instrumentation markets.
WinTech Nano-Technology Services - WinTech is a young and dynamic organization that is a breast with the latest cutting-edge technology and developments within the semicon industries. Their technical specialists are well trained with years of experience and are committed to work confidentially with their clients to satisfy all requirements on failure analysis, IC circuit editing and materials analysis services.
Qtech Nanosystems - Qtech Nanosystems Pte. Ltd. is a "technology incubation R&D Center" focused on making products based on nanotechnology. It engages in a collaborative New Product Development and Launch (NPDL) conducting research and collaborative product and technology development activities in diverse areas to propel innovation in Nanotechnology.
Shayonano– ShayoNano specializes in the research and product development of nanomaterials and nanotechnologies, right from conception to commercialization. ShayoNano offers solutions that meet the highest demand in various sectors from engineering to environment through their innovative materials and proprietary technologies. ShayoNano has developed patented process technology for industrial scale manufacturing of nanomaterials that can be synchronized in size, structure, is scalable, and high purity in terms of quality.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Singapore is home to a number of universities offering research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Provided below is a list of universities in Singapore and the academic courses or research opportunities they offer.
Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*Star) - promotes nanotechnology via:
- Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) - promotes interdisciplinary research combining science, engineering and medicine. IBN is focused on generating new knowledge and creating innovative technology platforms that use novel catalytic chemistry, biomaterials, nanofabricated devices, and microfluidic systems with biological and biomedical engineering.
- Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) - IMRE is committed to high-quality, extensive materials research and development for enabling technology platforms which support growth of new industry capabilities. Leveraging on these capabilities several R&D programmes have been established, including research on organic solar cells, nanocomposites, flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), solid-state lighting, nanoimprinting, microfluidics and next generation atomic scale interconnect technology.
National University of Singapore- has numerous nano-related departments as follows:
- Nano Biomechanics Lab – operates as a part of the Department of Bioengineering. State of the art facilities to conduct multidisciplinary research in the areas of micro & nano biomechanics and mechanobiology.
- Nanocore – is funded by the National University of Singapore. It is open to research staff and students who want to work across traditional scientific and engineering disciplines to achieve progress in the technology on the nanoscale. The center offers NanoCore PhD scholarships as well.
- Silicon Nano Device Laboratory – SNDL is a part of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The lab offers nanotechnology-based research opportunities.
- Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative - aims to promote nanotechnology research. It facilitates research efforts by NUS faculties, researchers and students.
Singapore-MIT Alliance – offers the Advanced Materials for Micro- and Nano-Systems (AMM&NS) degree program.
Nano and Microfabrication Core – is a part of the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI), and was formed to support the microfabrication needs of MBI PIs, collaborators, research fellows (RF) and graduate students. Funding is provided by both the National Research Foundation and the Ministry of Education with the aim to create a new research centre in mechanobiology in order to benefit the discipline and Singapore.
A*STAR’s SIMTech and NUS Faculty of Engineering have launched joint lab facilities aimed at boosting manufacturing productivity. One outcome of the venture will be in the area of multi-axis nanopositioning systems for high end machines.
A team of researchers at Nanyang Technical University have developed silica coated stirrer bars made up of iron oxide nanoparticles. The nanoparticles are lined up for form chains about 40nm long. Their diminuitive size means they can be used in the tiny channels in lab-on-chip devices. Their size also enables them to stay suspended in a solution and they can efficiently mix small volumes down to a few picoliters.
In October 2012, researchers based at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME) developed a low cost yet efficient thin film solar cells. The NTU-A*STAR nano-structured solar cells is stated to produce a current of 34.3mA/cm2, setting a world record for a silicon solar cell of its kind.
In August 2012, materials scientists used a nanoprinter to achieve 100,000 dots per inch, which was 10 times the previous record for high-resolution color printing. The research team was led by Joel Yang, a scientist at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore.
In May 2012, new improved anti-reflective plastics hit the market in Singapore. These plastics provided better performance and wider viewing angles over the existing anti-reflective plastics. This was achieved by researchers from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and their commercial partners. A locally developed nanotechnology technique was used to create a complex design comprising super tiny structures that copy the patterns of a moth’s eye, which is known to possess a unique method of diffusing light.
Singapore has the second freest economy in the world. Their prudent macroeconomic policy, stable political and legal environment, competitive tax rates and their openess to foreign trade and investment have helped to keep their economy dynamic.
In terms of science and technology, they have had plans in place for over 20 years to ensure science remains an integral part of the economy. In 2010 gross expenditure on R&D was S$6.5 billion, growing 11 fold from the 1990 figure of S$570 million. Of the S$6.5 billion, the private sector was responsible for contributing S$3.9 billion.
Over the same period, Singapore's share of the world scientific publications grew from 900 (0.14%) to 8500 (0.73%), with many of the papers being published in high impact factor journals. The manufacturing industry in Singapore also experienced massive growth over the same period, increasing output from S$73 billion in 1990 to S$372 billion in 2010.
Singapore is currently implementing the 5th of their 5 years plans for research, innovation & enterprise, (RIE) reinforcing their long term commitment. By the end of this RIE plan, they expect to commit 3.5% of GDP to research and development.
Singapore has a small land area and a highly educated population. This combined with their lack of natural resources means that they must continue to innovate and focus on knowledge-related activities to remain competitive. In line with this commitment their RIE plans intend to establish Singapore as one of the most research intensive, innovative and entrepreneurial economies in the world.
With this level of commitment to science and technology, there is little doubt that nanotechnology will also benefit. They are also committed to commercialisation of research outcomes which should see technologies being spun out of research. The high level of private sector involvement may however see some developments quietly develop until they are ready for market.
With strong support from government and industry, Singapore will continue to be a vibrant environment for reseach and nanotechnology.
- A*Star's SIMTECH and NUS Faculty of Engineering Launch Joint Labs to Boost Manufacturing Productivity
- Nanoscale Magnetic Stir Bars For Tiny Liquid Droplets
- Heritage Foundation - Singapore
- Asia's Innovation Capital - Stepping Up Yearbook 2011/12 (PDF)
- Step 2015 - Science, Technology and Enterprise Plan 2015 (PDF)