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Nanotechnology Education and Research
Argentina is located between Chile and Uruguay in South America. The total area of the country is 2,780,400 km2 with a population of 42,192,494 as of July 2012.
Argentina has an upper middle-income economy with an export-oriented agricultural sector and a diversified industrial sector. The GDP of the country was $746.9 billion in 2012.
The country has a highly literate population. Although the government’s science budget is modest, academics and the sciences in Argentina manage to attract international respect. Argentina has three Nobel Prize laureates in sciences.
Argentina has a number of organisations and networks committed to promoting nanoscience and exploring the challenges and future of nanotechnology. The following are key nanotechnology-related organisations in Argentina:
Fundacion Argentina De Nanotecnologia (FAN) - Its main responsibility is to promote domestic nano-based production for domestic consumption and to integrate local industry into international markets. Since early 2010 the FAN carried out a nanotechnology program for industry and society, with over 20 meetings held across the country.
Instituto De Nanociencia y Nanotecnolgia (Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology) - The Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology includes scientists from the Comisión Nacional de Energia Atómica (CNEA) (National Atomic Energy Commission) and is a center of excellence in Argentina which includes all disciplines of science and technology production in the area of nanotechnology.
Centro Argentino De Ingenieros (CAI) (Argentine Center of Engineers) - The Argentine Center of Engineers is a civil non-profit made up of professionals from all branches of engineering, architecture, surveying, allied professionals and institutions consistent with the goals of the Center and companies that wish to collaborate in raising the standards of engineering, for the good of the nation.
Argentine-Brazilian Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology - It is the first bi national nanotechnology organization in Argentina, aimed at promoting science and technology and increasing productivity between the two countries. Formed in November 2005, it promotes new research facilities, knowledge sharing and human resource training.
Laboratoire International Franco-Argentin en Nanosciences (LIFAN) - It is an International Associated Laboratory in Nanoscience and nanotechnologies formed to boost collaboration between the two countries, thereby enabling them to face international competition, attract PhD students or post-doctorate students, and to improve technical resources.
The major nanotechnology-based companies in Argentina are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:
Nanotek - Nanotek is a Research and Development Company with nanotechnology as its focus. The vision of Nanotek is to be a world leader using nanotechnology to improve the quality of life. Their mission is to focus on researching, manufacturing and marketing products and services for the developing nanotechnology market. Their nano products can be used in numerous fields such as mining, roads, textiles, health materials etc.
Nanotec Latina - Nanotec Latina S.H. represents worldwide nanotechnology companies in two key markets: Latin America and the U.S.A.. Nanotec Latina S.H. is a demand-driven and import-oriented brokerage company, aimed at making future and existing nanotechnology ideas and products available to consumers throughout the mentioned markets in Spanish language.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Argentina has a couple of universities offering research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. They are as follows:
The Research Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physical Chemistry (Instituto de Investigaciones Fisicoquímicas Teóricas y Aplicadas INIFTA) – INIFTA is a theoretical and applied physical chemistry research institute sited on the premises of the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, (UNLP), La Plata, Argentina. The nanotechnology based research activities include the following areas:
- Development of New Methods for Surface Nanostructuring
- Surface Science and Nanoscience
- Experimental Studies Based on Synchrotron Light Techniques.
- Nanostructured Systems: Basic Structural Aspects and Applications.
National University of Quilmes - offers a nanomedicine program.
On April 10, 2012, the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute, Bariloche, Argentina organized a lunch seminar chaired by a physicist, Nadim Morhell to discuss the findings of the research activities conducted within the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute. The Institute had developed a new device to measure blood viscosity using only a single drop of blood. Although the device is still in the lab stage, its benefits will be well received by medical doctors of the neonathology area who favour low sample measurements.
Scientists from FAN are working to bring nanotechnology into the public spotlight and educate them on what nanotechnology is and how it can help them. They have been engaging with the public at Megaferia and explaining how nanotechnology can benefit everyone on a daily basis.
El Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial (INTI) or the National Institute for Industrial Technology have displayed a nanotechnology laboratory at the Technopolis science fair. The display gives visitors the ability to interact with nanotechnology so they can learn about such things as nanocomposites, nanofabrication, nanoparticles and nanomanipulation.
While Argentina's GDP has grown at a compound rate of 6.8% over the last 5 years, this figure could have been greater. Harsh capital controls, restriction on imports and increasing regulatory pressure on the private sector, seizure of nearly $30 billion in private pension funds and removal of the independence of the central bank have severely damaged the nations investment profile.
While the GFC only marginally affected Argentina, its innovation system suffers from a weak R&D capability. Although the average increase in GERD between 2005 and 2010 was 13.2%, R&D commitment overall was quite low at 0.62% of GDP. This has been recognised by the government and they have increased the budget of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCYT) from US$510 million in 2010 to US$732 million in 2012. They have also undertaken improvement of their R&D capabilities using the Bases for a Science, Technology and Innovation Strategic Plan (2005-15).
While Argentina is making inroads into educating the public about nanotechnology through various programs which is fantastic, their road to developing a nanotechnology industry is still just the beginning. Low levels of education make technology development difficult. Increasing levels of government funding and increasing commitment to R&D will help, but foreign investment would accelerate things further, although the latter seems unlikely with high levels of political interference and corruption prevalent. Hence, significant nanotechnology developments in Argentina appear to be some way off.
- Átomos y moléculas al alcance de la mano en Tecnópolis
- INTI Monto Un Laboratorio de Nanotechnologia en Tecnopolis
- Heritage Foundation - Argentina
- OECD - STI Outlook for Argentina (PDF)