Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Western Australia: Market Report

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Australia is a continent located between the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. It spans a total area of 7,741,220 km2 and, as of July 2012, had a population of 22,015,576.

Western Australia (WA) occupies the whole western portion of the continent, and is the largest state in Australia covering a total area of 2,529,875 km2. In 2011, It had a population of 223,971—an increase of 14.3% over 2006. The state’s GDP was $238.9 billion, which equates to 16.2% of the national GDP.

Australia as a nation, and WA in specific, has rich and diverse natural resources, drawing in high levels of foreign investment. As a result, the mining sector has become the single largest contributor to the GSP, making up approximately one third.

Through WA’s Department of Commerce, their Industry, Science and Innovation Division encourages, supports, and nurtures science and research and development in the state. They focus on applied research that is driven by end-users, and will benefit the local economy.

Nanotechnology Companies

Nanotechnology is a multipurpose field with a huge number of applications in several industries. The top nanotechnology companies based in WA are mentioned below along with a short introduction to each of them.

Antaria

Antaria was first set up in 1997 to market advanced materials technology initially created by the University of Western Australia. The technology was first expanded through a joint venture with Samsung Corning Co. Ltd, of Korea (2000 to 2004), and then as a standalone operation.

The company has grown from its original research-based foundations to the development of a wider variety of advanced materials opportunities. Its key skills now include the development, manufacturing, scaling-up, and marketing of advanced products based on a variety of original advanced material technologies, and manufacturing processes.

nanoZ™—one of the company’s products—is a transparent industrial zinc oxide nanoparticle dispersion for functional coating formulations to safeguard plastics, wood, and textiles from microbial and UV degradation. For the industrial coatings sector, nanoZ™ provides a solution to the problems with the long-term stability of the existing transparent organic-based UV absorbers.

Cristal

Cristal aims to be a model corporate citizen by expanding its worldwide presence, staying ahead of new titanium technologies, safeguarding the environment, and giving back to the communities where it works. It is a name that reminds one of the benefits of titanium products. In May 2007, Cristal bought Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, uniting the varied manufacturing platforms of the two companies to become a single international producer. The acquisition pushed Cristal to be the second-largest producer of titanium dioxide (TiO2) in the world.

pSivida

pSivida is renowned for providing miniaturized, sustained-release drug delivery products and is pursuing the evolution of these systems. Its established proprietary technologies allow it to realize highly focused, long-term delivery of therapeutics.

The company is creating a series of extra miniaturized, bioerodible, sustained-release systems to deliver a variety of proteins and small drug molecules to almost any site in the body. One of these systems is Tethadur®—a nanostructured bioerodible material.

Quickstep Holdings Limited (QHL)

QHL is an Australian-listed company which, through its subsidiary company Quickstep Technology Pty Ltd, has invested in state-of-the-art composite manufacturing facilities in Australia and advanced composite manufacturing technologies for the international market.

The company is the largest independent aerospace-grade advanced composite producer in Australia. It produces using traditional autoclave as well as leading-edge out-of-autoclave production technologies.

Nanotechnology Education and Research

WA, Australia is home to a number of world-class universities providing research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Mentioned below is a list of academic institutions and universities in WA, involved in research covering distinct applications of nanoscience in smart textiles, concrete, and biomedical fields.

Curtin University

The university is involved in a range of research activities associated with nanotechnology through its many facilities.

  • The Nano Arts Laboratory—It aims to explore the impact in arts and culture of continuing developments in nanotechnology.
  • The Nanochemistry Research Institute (NRI)—It carries out research in the field of Pharmaceutical Science and Medicinal Chemistry including Nano-Drug Delivery.
  • The Nano-Drug Delivery research group—It aims to utilize colloidal science and nanotechnology to design, produce, and formulate novel biodegradable delivery systems for regulated and enhanced delivery of therapeutic molecules (peptide, drug, vaccine, and protein).

The University of Western Australia

The university offers a Bachelor of Science (Nanotechnology) degree and also supports the Centre for Strategic Nano-fabrication (CSNF). CSNF is a world leader in the use of process intensification for the manufacture of nanomaterials. It looks at the entire life-cycle of nanotechnology developments. The Centre for Strategic Nano-fabrication is another center focused on nano-research.

Murdoch University

It is a public university located in Perth, Western Australia. It offers BSc. Nanotechnology and Physics.

Recent Developments

The University of Western Australia organized the 5th International Symposium on Functional Materials between December 17th and 20th, 2012. The symposium was held in Australia for the first time. Earlier, the symposium has been conducted in Korea, China, Singapore, and Japan, representing the significance of the symposium within the Asia-pacific region.

The international advisory committee includes members from the USA, Australia, Japan, Belgium, Canada, Singapore, Germany, China, and South Korea.

In November 2012, two PhD students at the University of Western Australia won fellowships from the Australian Nanotechnology Network to travel and expand their research on bionanotechnology.

In March of the same year, Professor Yinong Liu, also from the University of Western Australia, co-authored a paper wherein he and his fellow scientists described the development of a super-strong NiTi metallic composite utilizing the remarkable properties of nanowires. This innovation paves the way for numerous new and advanced applications.

While some nanotech activity is taking place in WA, the state will continue to be ruled by the mining sector without a doubt because of the vast natural resources available there. WA will continue to pursue nanotechnology but will always struggle to compete against eastern states such as Victoria and NSW in this field.

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