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Nanotechnology Education and Research
Peru is located between Ecuador and Chile in the western region of South America. It covers a total area of 1,285,216 km2 and had a population of 29,549,517 as of July 2012.
Peru has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Since April 2006, Peru has a free trade agreement with the United States. The other major trade partners are China, Brazil, and Chile. The GDP of the nation in 2012 was reported to be $325.4 billion.
Peru has a couple of organisations and networks committed to promoting nanoscience and exploring the challenges and future of nanotechnology. A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organisations in Peru is provided below:
Peruvian Red Nanotechnology - The Peruvian Red Nanotechnology (La RED de NanoTechnologia) is composed of researchers from academic, public, private and NGOs. It promotes the inter and multidisciplinary research of its members and brings together experts in various fields for the purpose of answering inquiries to disseminate scientific and technical basis of nanotechnology activities in Peru and the world.
Peruvian Association of Technical Textile (Asociacion Peruana de Tecnicos Textiles APTT) – APTT is an association free from all political activity, religious or non-profit affiliations. It consisting of people with technical, scientific and social involvements that are engaged in work related to the textile and related industries It promotes and encourages the study, research and dissemination of technical knowledge derived from the textile industry. Nanoscience and nanotechnology is an area that is being widely explored in relation to the development of textiles.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Peru is home to a number of universities and academic institutions that offer research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. provided in the following section is a brief outline of their nanotechnology-related activities.
Universidad Nacional De Ingenieria - The Faculty of Science has a Laboratory of Physics dealing with various research activities such as sputtering and special coatings, thin films, dating, optics and semiconductors, nanostructured materials, holography and fiber optics, photometry and solar energy.
Universidad Nacional San Agustin – offers an MSc in Materials Science that covers various pure sciences and nanotechnology.
Instituto Peruano de Enrgia Nuclear (IPEN) - The research and development section of IPEN is involved in various research activities including nano-based activities.
The Chemical Society of Peru (La Sociedad Química del Perú) organized a three-day symposium in June 2012. The symposium was on Peruvian Nanotechnology, and was open to both students and professionals interested or involved in the area.
The Chemical Society of Peru also organised another event on the computational modeling of polymers with applications in biology and nanotechnology that took place on January 31, 2013.
Reports in January 2012 stated that a Peruvian researcher, Oscar Perales Perez had developed an unconventional water treatment method using nanotechnology that required disused shredded tires. He presented his findings at the International Scientific Meeting. He explained that tires contained a blend of materials and that can be utilized to remove dissolved contaminants or microorganisms from wastewater. A special treatment of the disused tires produced granulated rubber, which in turn can be used to trap the contaminants, thereby separating them from the water. During his experiments with the granulated rubber, he also noticed that the rubber particles could eliminate heavy metals like lead, copper, and cadmium.
The Peruvian economy has been performing strongly in recent years resulting in large budget surpluses. The strong economy stimulated in part by private investment has helped reduce the levels of poverty in Peru.
Peru is currently spending about 0.15% of GDP on research and development which is well below the levels of the likes of China (0.7%) and Brazil (1.1%). The current government (in power since July 2011) have set the goal of increasing expenditure on R&D to 0.7% of GDP in 3 years.
Peru has a small scientific community and meager financial resources. Consequently, their best course of action to develop a sustainable nanotechnology resource is to form intense regional and global collaborations. A UNCTAD report indicates the Peru has only 25 nanotechnology researchers scattered throughout 6 universities, with no private companies developing nanotechnologies. The universities lack the required infrastructure and equipment to make any significant technological inroads and no policies exist to facilitate financing of any such equipment. Furthermore, Peru lacks a peak body to drive a national nanotechnology plan.
At this point in time Peru is poorly placed to develop a nanotechnology sector, despite the fact that nanotechnology has the potential to solve numerous social issues such as water contamination. Hence, Peru's nanotechnology sector will remain in its embryonic state for some time yet.
Heritage Foundation - Peru
UNCTAD - Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Review - Peru (PDF)