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Nanotechnology Education and Research
Brazil is located in the eastern part of South America bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The total area of the country is 8,514,877km2 and it had a population of 199,321,413 in July 2012.
Brazil has well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, and is considered South America's leading economic power. The GDP of the country was $2.294 trillion in 2011, making it the world's seventh largest economy.
Technological research in Brazil is gaining global recognition. It is well funded by the government and is carried out in public universities and research institutes. In Latin America, Brazil has been recognized as a leader in nanotechnology research.
Brazil has a number of organisations and networks committed to promoting and exploring nanoscience. A brief introduction to the chief nanotechnology-related organisations in Brazil is given below:
Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron - LNLS operates the only Synchrotron Light Source in Latin America. Designed and built with Brazilian technology, LNLS was inaugurated in 1997 and provides access to the scientific and business community across the country and abroad. The laboratory has been a development partner at national industry projects in energy, chemicals and pharmaceuticals areas.
Rede de Nanotecnologia Molecular e de Interfaces (Renami) - is a study centre for the development of nanostructured materials, interfaces and devices for molecular nanotechnology. The network comprises several research groups from 17 institutions.
Centro Brasileiro-Argentino de Nanotecnologia (CBAN) - This joint venture is promoted by the Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia e Inovacao to collaborate the developments in field of Nanotechnology of both countries. The areas that have been successfully covered are nanobiotechnology, nanobiostructures, nanophotonics, nanotech molecular nanobiomagnetism, nanosciences, CNT, nanocoatings, simulation/models nanoglicobiotechnology and nanocosmetics.
Cooperative Research Network for Semiconductor Nanodevices And Nanostructured Materials (Rede Cooperativa Para Pesquisa Em Nanodispositivos Semicondutores E Materiais Nanoestruturados) - The network conducts research on nanostructured semiconductor materials; semiconductor nanodevices based on Si and SiC, wide gap materials, ceramics and polymers; optical properties and transport in nanostructures and low dimensional semiconductor devices (wells, wires and quantum dots); nanodevices for applications including optical sensors and physicochemical detectors.
Nanotechnology is a diverse field finding applications in a myriad of industries. This section briefly describes the activities of leading Brazilian nanotechnology companies.
BIOLAB - BIOLAB is a Brazilian pharmaceutical corporation which develops, manufactures and commercialises medicines for cardiology, rheumatology, orthopedics, general practice, pediatrics, endocrinology, geriatrics and dermatology.
NANOX® - NANOX® is headquartered in São Carlos, in the State of São Paulo. São Carlos is known for having large academic centers and for being the generator of knowledge and research. This is where one of the largest national nanotechnology companies (connected to the branch of chemistry) was born, NANOX®. NANOX® is a company that develops, produces and markets solutions for the nanotechnology industry.
Nanum Nanotecnologia - NANUM ® is focused on the production of nanoscale metal oxides. They are pioneers in Latin America in the production and marketing of post nanostructured-ceramics and mastery of various techniques for transforming them into new high value added products.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Brazil is home to a number of universities offering research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Given below is a list of Brazilian universities and the academic courses or research opportunities they offer.
University of Campinas - promotes NAMITEC (Micro and Nanoelectronics Technologies for Intelligent Integrated Systems).
Prof. Adalberto Fazzio Research group - The group’s research focuses on the understanding of the electronic and structural properties of solids and clusters. They are a part of the Instituto de Física da USP.
Instituto de Ciências Biológicas - is affiliated to the Universidade de Brasília. They offer a postgraduate program in Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology.
Oswaldo Cruz Institute – offers a postgraduate course in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology
PUC-Rio – offers multidisciplinary research opportunities in nanotechnology. Researchers and students can work with simulators, nanostructured materials and devices, molecular structures and computer quantum molecular electronics. PUC-Rio has many well-equipped laboratories, and also offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
In December 2012, Brazil hosted the first Brazil-Canada workshop on nanotechnology in Sao Paulo. The workshop was organised by Nanotechnology Coordination at the Brazilian Ministry for Science Technology and Innovation and the Energy and Nuclear Research National Institute (IPEN) with the aim of identifying prospective nanotechnology projects that could be handled as joint ventures between the two countries. The workshop included several companies including CelluForce, the company that created Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC), and other high profile guests from the industry and academia
In October 2012 the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) of Brazil held a meeting to discuss the potential impact of nanotechnology on various fields and how the technology could be put to use to benefit the country's priorities of public health and industrial development. Anvisa is keen on taking on the role of facilitator of the technology and protector of public health. The meeting was attended by representatives from the government agencies and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation.
In August 2011, experts from the Brazilian Competitiveness Forum on Nanotechnology gathered together in São Paulo to discuss effective regulation of nanotechnology for the industrial sector, and also to develop possible standards, laws and guidelines for nanotechnology regulation in Brazil.
According to a recent report from RNCOS, Brazil, along with other developing countries like China, Korea and India are investing large amounts of money into nanotechnology R&D. This is no doubt responsible for their high volume of nanotechnology publications and patents which see them lead the way in the Latin-American region, with Mexico a distant second
An absence of an efficient legal and regulatory framework mean that long-term economic development is uncertain. Corruption is a major issue and private sector growth has been hindered by a cumbersome regulatory environment. This has also lead to a decrease in business confidence and foreign investment.
The Brazilian economy has weathered the GFC well and continued to grow. This growth has not translated to the science and technology sector with SME's showing little propensity to innovate. This can be put down to a challenging framework and social challenges such as poverty and low levels of education.
In 2008 Brazil's GERD was 1.08% of GDP, which is below the OECD median. They have identified innovation as a national shortfall and it is a central issue for "The Greater Brazil Plan 2011-14". This includes changing the legal framework. They have also designed the National Strategy in Science, Technology and Innovation (ENCTI) to try and bridge the technology gap with other developed nations.
There are initiatives available in Brazil such as Programa Primeira Empresa Inovadora, PRIME that encourage entrepreneurialism and others to help incubate innovative companies that may be involved with nanotechnology. However, the development of green technology is a major focus of Brazils' STI strategy that may, unless it involves nanotechnology, divert attention away from nanotechnology.
While there is some commitment to increase funding levels for R&D, Brazil is doing its best to become a serious competitor. This can be evidenced by their high levels of research publications, and the fact that their publications are not in higher level journals indicates they have some way to go yet. There also appears to be a push for the development of green technologies which could be to the detriment of nanotechnology.
Nanofibers Market Witnessing Robust Growth
Developing nanotechnology in Latin America
Heritage Foundation - Brazil
OECD - STI Outlook for Brazil (PDF)