Nanotechnology in Western Australia, Australia: Market Report

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

Western Australia (WA) occupies the entire western portion of the country and is the largest state of Australia with a total area of 2,529,875 km2. It had a population of 2,239,71 in 2011, an increase of 14.3% over 2006.

Western Australia has a GDP of $238.9 billion, which equates to 16.2% of the national GDP.

Australia as a nation and Western Australia in particular has abundant and diverse natural resources, which enables the country to gain high levels of foreign investment. Consequently, the mining industry is the single largest contributor to the GSP, accounting for roughly one third.

Through WA's Department of Commerce, their Industry, Science and Innovation Division promotes, supports and forsters science and research and development in their state. They focus on applied research that is end-user driven that wil benefit the local economy.

Nanotechnology Companies

Nanotechnology is a versatile field with vast number of applications in a multiple industries. The major nanotechnology companies based in Western Australia are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them

Antaria- Antaria was first formed in 1997 to commercialise advanced materials technology originally developed by the University of Western Australia. The technology was first scaled-up via a joint venture with Samsung Corning Co. Ltd, of Korea (2000 to 2004), and then as a stand-alone operation.

Antaria has expanded from its original research-based foundations to the development of a broader range of advanced materials opportunities. Antaria’s core skills now include the development, scaling-up, manufacturing and marketing of innovative products based on a range of proprietary advanced material technologies and manufacturing processes.

One of their products, nanoZ™ is a transparent industrial zinc oxide nanoparticle dispersion for functional coating formulations to protect wood, plastics and textiles from UV and microbial degradation. nanoZ™ provides the industrial coatings market a solution to the problems with the long term stability of the current transparent organic-based UV absorbers.

Cristal - By increasing their global presence, staying at the forefront of new titanium technologies, protecting the environment, and giving back to the communities where they work, Cristal strives to be a model corporate citizen and a name synonymous with the benefits of titanium products. In May 2007, Cristal acquired Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, combining the two companies’ diverse manufacturing platforms to become one unified global producer. The acquisition propelled Cristal to be the world's second largest producer of titanium dioxide (TiO2).

pSivida - pSivida is a leading provider of miniaturized, sustained-release drug delivery products and is continuing the evolution of these systems. Their proven proprietary technologies enable them to achieve highly focused, long-term delivery of therapeutics. pSivida is developing a series of additional miniaturized, bioerodible, sustained release systems to deliver a range of proteins and small drug molecules to virtually any site in the body. One of these systems is Tethadur®, a nanostructured bioerodible material.

Quickstep Holdings Limited - QHL is an Australian-listed company which, through its subsidiary company Quickstep Technology Pty Ltd, has investments in advanced composite manufacturing facilities in Australia and advanced composite manufacturing technologies for the global market.  Quickstep is the largest independent aerospace-grade advanced composite manufacturer in Australia. They manufacture using both traditional autoclave and leading edge out-of-autoclave production technologies.

Nanotechnology Education and Research

Western Australia, Australia is home to many world-class universities offering research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Given below is a list of universities and academic institutions in Western Australia, Australia that are involved in research covering distinct applications of nanoscience in concrete, smart textiles, and biomedical fields.

Curtin Universityis involved in a variety of research activities related to nanotechnology through its various facilities.

  • The Nano Arts Laboratory seeks to investigate the impact in arts and culture of continuing developments in nanotechnology.

  • The Nanochemistry Research Institute (NRI) conducts research in the field of Pharmaceutical Science and Medicinal Chemistry-including Nano-Drug Delivery.

  • The Nano-Drug Delivery research group aims to utilize colloidal science and nanotechnology to design, synthesise and formulate novel biodegradable delivery systems for controlled and enhanced delivery of therapeutic molecules (drug, vaccine, peptide and protein).

The University of Western Australia - offers a Bachelor of Science (Nanotechnology) degree. It also promotes the Centre for Strategic Nano-fabrication (CSNF), which is a world leader in the use of process intensification for the production of nano-materials. CSNF looks at the whole life-cycle of nanotechnology developments. The Centre for Strategic Nano-fabrication is another center  involved in nano-research

Murdoch University -  is a public university based in Perth, Western Australia. It offers BSc. Physics and Nanotechnology.

Recent Developments

The 5th International Symposium on Functional Materials was organized by the University of Western Australia between 17 and 20 December in 2012. It was the first time that this symposium was held in Australia. Previously, the symposium has been held in Singapore, China, Korea, and Japan, indicating the importance of the symposium within the Asia-pacific region. The international advisory committee consists of members from USA, Belgium, Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Chain, Japan and S. Korea.

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

In March of the same year, Prof. Yinong Liu, also of the University of Western Australia co-authored a paper in which he and his fellow researchers had created a super strong NiTi metallic composite utilising the extraordinary properties of nanowires. This breakthrough opens the door for many new and innovative applications.

While there is some nanotech activity going on in Western Australia, there is no doubt that that state will continue to be dominated by the mining industry due to the vast natural resources present there. WA will continue to be involved in nanotechnology but will always struglle to rival eastern states such as NSW and Victoria in this field.

Sources and Further Reading

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