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Australia is a continent situated between the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The country spans 7,741,220 km2 and had a population of 22,015,576 as of July 2012.
The state of Victoria is situated in the southeast region of Australia, covering an area of 227,416 km2. It is the most thickly populated state with a total population of 5,354,040 in 2011, an increase of 5.4% over 2006 data.
Victoria has the second-largest economy in Australia after NSW. In 2011-12, the GDP of Victoria was $328.6 billion, which equates to 22% of the national GDP. The biggest contributors to the local economy were service industries like insurance, finance, and property services.
The manufacturing strategy of the Victorian Government has been designed to reinforce their manufacturing sector and help secure jobs, and boost business investment. The strategy has five priority areas including investment in technology, whereby producers will be supported in their efforts to launch cutting-edge technology to push high growth potential.
A short introduction to the main nanotechnology-related organizations in Victoria, Australia is given below:
Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF)
ANFF was set up under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). It offers scientists and industry with access to advanced fabrication capabilities via a network of eight nodes comprising 21 institutions across Australia. Their facilities on an open access basis allow scientists to participate in interdisciplinary research across the following fields:
- Sensors and medical devices
- Micro and Nano electronics
- MEMS and Microfluidics
- Advanced materials
- Bio-nano applications
ANFF offers services for academic researchers as well as industry.
Small Technologies Cluster (STC)
Since 2005, STC has been an incubator of small technology companies and has provided a number of grant and voucher programs. These programs allow STC to boost entrepreneurship and commercialization around next-generation innovations.
As companies create new and more innovative products, the addition of emerging technologies becomes progressively vital. Several sectors, like medical devices, biotechnology, life science, and information technology, are coming together around this quickly growing core of advanced innovation.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)
CSIRO is Australia's national science agency, and one of the world’s largest and most varied research agencies. It aims to sustain and form relationships with the community members. The organization invites people of all ages to come and explore its holiday programs, facilities, and public events.
Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN)
MCN’s mission is to enable the integration of nanotechnology methods into the research and development (R&D) activities that promote Australia’s innovation and manufacturing economies. As a collaborative venture facility, MCN unites the technical expertise of six Victorian universities and CSIRO to assist ANFF’s mission.
Nanotechnology is a multipurpose field with a significant number of applications in many industries. The key nanotechnology companies in Victoria, Australia are mentioned below together with a short introduction to each of them.
Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN)
The center creates biotechnology-centered nanotechnologies for implementation of novel integrated systems. The equipment prototyping at CAN should allow new treatments through in vivo diagnosis, surgery, and drug delivery. Their main objective is to offer new effective medical devices and therapy as practical experimental nanorobot solutions for the growth of applied nanobiotechnology.
GBC Scientific Equipment Pty Ltd
GBC started its operations in 1978. It designs, fabricates, and markets a variety of scientific instruments. GBC is a big manufacturer of analytical instruments including the 2nd Generation ICP-oTOFMS, HPLC, XRD, and Rheometer systems. 3rd Generation UV-Visible spectrophotometers, 4th Generation Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES), and 5th Generation Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS).
It offers a varied range of products that match with a broad range of applications, be it for medical, scientific, or defense purposes. The range of company’s products includes micro and nano moldings with traditional and industrial application as well as molding for packaging and building sectors. Realtek also provides solutions for the aerospace and automotive sectors.
Owing to its indisputable reputation in delivering quality products and services, Realtek plays a role as a leading supplier for Australia’s scientific community and top manufacturing industries.
Starpharma Holdings Limited
It is an ASX 300 company and is a global leader in the development of dendrimer products for life science, pharmaceutical, and other applications. Starpharma’s fundamental technology is designed around dendrimers—a type of synthetic nanoscale polymer that has regular structure and size, and well-suited to pharmaceutical uses.
Quintain Consulting Pty Ltd
It is a private consultancy company founded in 2009 and provides strategic advice on commercialization processes for the progress of bionanotechnology. It understands the challenges faced when taking bionanotechnology-based products through the development and commercialization processes, and assists in handling the shift from exploration to marketplace.
It is the sales and distribution division of Micronisers, with the aim to integrate the newest in nanotechnology to OEM’s in Australia and South East Asia.
An advanced materials company, it is focused on consulting, developing, sourcing, and marketing of novel technologies. It began its operations in July 2009 with a vision represented by its logo—an Arctic Tern carrying nDure around the world.
The name “nDure” was derived from the word “Endurance,” which is the symbol of the Arctic Tern. Present projects/products of nDure Technologies are based on its N.E.E.D. Program—Nanotechnology, Energy, Environment, and Devices.
Kemix specializes in delivering life science materials for the biotechnology, R&D, and scientific industries. It is at the front line of this leading-edge technology and has introduced a variety of carbon nanotubes, nanopowders, and nanowires of different sizes to aid such research by offering research size packs and making it easier for scientists to carry out quality and performance associated tests in their own laboratories.
Micronisers Pty Ltd
It is a company focusing on advanced milling and chemical processes to create products at the molecular level. Nano-sized and Sub-Micron particles can be additionally coated or encapsulated to realize better functionality. These are highly specialized products and are used in the personal care, plastics, veterinarian, coatings, textile, and pharmaceutical industries.
Micronisers also has exclusive production facilities, and offers technical assistance for customers who prefer to have proprietary products made to particular requirements for particle size, distribution, and encapsulation.
A privately-owned contract engineering company, MiniFAB offers custom development and manufacture of disposable polymer microfluidic and microengineered products. The company was set up in 2002 and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia with satellite offices in Europe and the United States.
MiniFAB’s globally-renowned team of industrial designers, engineers, and biochemists has finished more than 900 projects with clients internationally. Its mission is to boost business success for its clients and company, by designing and making real-world products and solutions using nano, micro, and biotechnologies.
Scitech Pty Ltd
It is a privately-owned company set up in 1989. It has more than 20 years of experience in supplying scientific equipment to thousands of customers in academia, industry, and the private sector. It delivers several nano-based products as well.
Quantum Communications Victoria (QCV)
QCV is a Victorian Government Industry Development Initiative with a focus on developing quantum technology that will allow absolute secure communication. Prototyped by QCV, the technology will allow the absolutely secured communication using the quantum properties of light.
PolyNovo Biomaterials Pty Ltd
A wholly owned subsidiary of Calzada Ltd, PolyNovo Biomaterials aims to leverage its novel patented series of biodegradable polymers called NovoSorb™ for use in medical devices. The NovoSorb™ platform has remarkable versatility, enabling new approaches to the treatment of numerous injuries and diseases.
The company is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s technologies and solving present-day challenges for its customers. Established in 1874, it was built on a proud tradition of innovation, leadership, safety, and quality. Orica also supplies common chemicals across a varied range of markets, including agriculture, food and beverage, building and construction, pharmaceutical and personal care, pulp and paper, plastics, and water treatment industries.
It has created an exclusive photoelectrochemical technology, PeCOD™, that can measure photo-current charge coming from the oxidization of organic species contained in a sample.
The PeCOD™ technology can photoelectrochemically produce an electrical signal that directly correlates, via mass balance, with the oxidizable organic species found in natural or wastewater samples. The core of the technology is the potential of the UV-activated nano-particulate photocatalyst semi-conductive electrode to produce a high oxidation potential, which guarantees thorough oxidation of all oxidizable organic species, and also the potential to trap and measure the resultant photo-current.
A top chemical manufacturer, Boron Molecular was founded in 2001, around a collection of boronic acid patents (both process and composition of matter), initially created by the CSIRO.
In 2004, the company formed a fully integrated operation in North Carolina, USA to complement its research, development, and manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Australia.
Ceramic Fuel Cells
A world leader in marketing solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, it produces efficient, low-emission electricity from extensively available natural gas and renewable fuels.
Ceramic Fuel Cells designs, manufactures, and markets SOFC products, including engineered ceramic nanopowders for small-scale. The products also include micro-Combined Heat and Power (micro-CHP) and distributed generation applications that co-generate heat and electricity for businesses and homes.
Ceram Polymerik Pty Ltd
Ceram has a new, ingenious technology in polymer nanocomposites, for passive fire protection. In a fire, these composites change into a ceramic structure when the activation temperature is touched. The technology is very efficient in a broad range of rubbers and plastics. Composites can be made rigid or flexible to meet the specific requirements of a fire protection material or component.
The company supplies and supports electron and ion beam systems (such as SEM, TEM, FIB, and ESEM) to customers across New Zealand and Australia. With a philosophy based on end-to-end service, the company offers fully supported systems, allowing its customers to focus on their crucial activities. nanoTechnology Systems supports over 100 electron microscope systems across Australia and New Zealand.
It has created a novel cross-platform drug delivery technique that non-invasively supplies drugs ranging from small molecules to large proteins (with or without nano-particle encapsulation) through biological tissues. The delivery is by an advanced combination of ultrasound and nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Victoria, Australia has several outstanding universities offering research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Mentioned below is a list of academic institutions and universities in Victoria dealing with research related to nanotechnology and nanoscience.
The university supports the Institute for Frontier Materials—a well-established research institute whose goal is to deal with the exciting new frontier in the development of materials in order to meet significant challenges that will be experienced by people in the future. Some of the university’s research covers micro and nanosystems, nanomedicine, nanomaterials, and nanotechnology. The university also has a well-equipped nanotechnology laboratory.
The university promotes Nanosciences at Monash, where Nanoscience research openings are available across different faculties. It also supports the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, which is recognized for providing Australia’s top engineers and scientists with the tools to develop miniature devices. These devices could possibly transform the environmental maintenance and healthcare sectors.
The University of Melbourne
The university assists the Melbourne Materials Institute, which, in turn, supports groundbreaking materials research projects as part of the university. It provides several opportunities for research that also covers Quantum and nanophotonic materials.
A Master’s level course in Chemical Systems is also offered and this may lead to a Master of Engineering in Biomolecular or Chemical field, and professional registration as an engineer. This course also helps in preparing students for job opportunities in the field of nanotechnology.
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University
This Melbourne-based university offers a Bachelor of Science (Nanotechnology); undergraduate programs on Nanotechnology Methodology and Nanotechnology Practice. The RMIT University also supports the RMIT Computational Nanotechnology Group, and the Nanomaterials and Solar Photovoltaics Group.
La Trobe University
The nano programs offered by this university include:
- Bachelor of Nanotechnology; Bachelor of Science (Hons)
- Master of Nanotechnology
Swinburne University of Technology
This Australian public university is located in Melbourne, Victoria, and offers the following nano modules in Advanced Manufacturing Technology:
- Master of Technology
- Master of Engineering Science
- Master of Engineering
- Graduate Certificate of Engineering
Dr Xiaoping Li and Professor Min GU from the Swinburne University of Technology together with a visiting PhD student from National Chao Tung University, Taiwan have been focusing on tackling the e-security issue using nanotechnology. They have found a groundbreaking method of encrypting data for secure electronic storage by aiming a laser beam that will allow increased data storage capacity, and also encrypt data on DVD coated with gold nanoseconds.
In August 2012, Friends of the Earth filed a complaint with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) against Ontarian, a company handling advanced materials. The complaint states that Ontarian had breached the Corporations Act by failing to notify the ASX that ECOCERT (certifier of organic and natural cosmetics) had suspended its certification of Ant aria's Binuclear IM product.
Ontarian failed to deliver evidence that ZinClear IM was not a nanomaterial, but then stood its ground by restating that the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, and the US Food and Drug Administration had time and again established that zinc oxides such as ZinClear were harmless for use in sunscreens.
In a list of Melbourne’s top 100 most influential people of 2012 published in The Age (Melbourne) Magazine, globally renowned nanotechnologist professor Frank Caruso from the University of Melbourne was featured for his work on increasing the efficiency of lifesaving drugs.
Monash University will accommodate the Australian Manufacturing Innovation Precinct headquarters, which will assist in reviving the industry. This center will be responsible for promoting manufacturing-based research, including nanofabrication.
To filter out herbicide poisons from water, Monash University researchers have also used metal organic frameworks (MOF). In the meantime, other researchers from the same university have published work on a family of nanoballs or supramolecules that have spin crossover capacity with possible application in computer storage.
Another Monash University team used bottom-up fabrication approaches for the synthesis of gold nanostructures that can track pollution levels in the workplace. For his work in designing medical implants using nanotechnology, Professor Yuri Estrin from Monash University has also been honored with an esteemed Alexander von Humboldt Research Award.
RMIT researchers worked together to develop a two-dimensional molybdenum oxide nanomaterial that boosts the free flow of electrons at ultra-high speeds. This nanomaterial could be employed in advanced electronics. Another research team from RMIT had synthesized “liquid metal marbles” or liquid metal coated in nanoparticles that show a promising application in industrial sensing and electronics.
Yet another RMIT-led team worked together to structure niobia into a nano-architecture using a process apt for large-scale production. Through this technology, the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells can be increased by at least 30%.
There is indeed a noteworthy amount of nanotechnology-related activity happening in Victoria. The level of activity may even increase because of the new facilities in the pipeline. Educational opportunities in nanotechnology are also on the increase, thus making Victoria an attractive place to get involved and make a nanotech career.