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.
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The state of Victoria is located in the southeast region of Australia. It covers an area of 227,416 km2. It is the most densely populated state having a population of 5,354,040 in 2011, an increase of 5.4% over 2006 data.
Victoria has the second largest economy in Australia behind NSW. In 2011-12, Victoria posted a GDP of $328.6 billion, which equates to 22% of the national GDP. The largest contributors to the local economy are service industries such as finance, insurance and property services.
The Victorian Government's manufacturing strategy has been designed to strengthen their manufacturing industry and help secure jobs and grow business investment. The strategy includes five priority areas, including investing in technology, whereby manufacturers will be supported in their efforts to introduce leading-edge technology to drive high growth potential.
A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organizations in Victoria, Australia is given below:
- Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) - Established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), ANFF provides researchers and industry with access to state-of-the-art fabrication capabilities through a network of 8 nodes including 21 institutions throughout Australia. Their facilities on an open access basis enabling researchers to engage in interdisciplinary research across the following fields:
- Micro and Nano electronics
- Microfluidics and MEMS
- Bio-nano applications
- Advanced materials
- Sensors and medical devices
- ANFF provides services for both academic researchers and industry.
- Small Technologies Cluster (STC) - Since 2005, STC has been an incubator of small tech companies and has administered several grant and voucher programs. These programs enable STC to promote commercialisation and entrepreneurship around next-generation innovations. As companies develop new and more advanced products, the incorporation of emerging technologies becomes increasingly important. Many sectors, like biotechnology, medical devices, life science and information technology, are converging around this rapidly growing core of cutting edge innovation.
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) - CSIRO is Australia's national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. CSIRO aims to establish and build relationships with members of the community. They welcome people of all ages to come and explore our facilities, holiday programs and public events.
- Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN)- The mission of MCN is to facilitate the integration of nanotechnology techniques into the Research and Development activities that support Australia’s innovation and manufacturing economies. The MCN is a joint venture facility that brings together the technical expertise of six Victorian universities and CSIRO to support the mission of ANFF.
Nanotechnology is a versatile field with vast number of applications in a multiple industries. The major nanotechnology companies in Victoria, Australia are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them.
CAN - Center for Automation in Nanobiotech - CAN - Center for Automation in Nanobiotech develops biotechnology focused on nanotechnologies for implementation of innovative integrated systems. The equipment prototyping at CAN should enable new treatments through in vivo diagnosis, drug delivery and surgery. Their key objective is to provide new effective medical devices and therapy as practical experimental nanorobot solutions for the development of applied nanobiotechnology.
GBC Scientific Equipment Pty Ltd - GBC Scientific Equipment Pty Ltd commenced operations in 1978. GBC designs, manufactures and markets a range of scientific instruments. GBC is a major manufacturer of analytical instruments including the 5th Generation Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS), 4th Generation Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES), 3rd Generation UV-Visible spectrophotometers, 2nd Generation ICP-oTOFMS, HPLC, XRD and Rheometer systems.
Realtek - Realtek brings a diverse range of products which correspond to wide range of application; may it be for scientific, medical, or defense purposes. The diversity of their products covers micro and nano moldings with conventional and industrial application as well as moulding for building and packaging sectors. They also offer solutions for automotive and aerospace industries. Due to their unquestionable reputation in delivering quality products and services, Realtek plays a role as forefront supplier for Australia’s scientific community and leading manufacturing industries.
Starpharma Holdings Limited- Starpharma Holdings Limited is an ASX 300 company and is a world leader in the development of dendrimer products for pharmaceutical, life science and other applications. Starpharma’s underlying technology is built around dendrimers – a type of synthetic nanoscale polymer that is highly regular in size and structure and well suited to pharmaceutical uses.
AorTech Biomaterials, Pty Ltd - AorTech is focused on the commercialization of its world leading biomedical polymer technology, components and medical devices. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of AorTech International, plc.
Artimech Pty Ltd - Artimech Pty Ltd was established in 1999. Their team has strong creativity and a passion for achieving technical excellence to produce highly competitive product designs for our clients. They have experience in product design, testing and instrumentation. They provide our clients with advanced technical solutions and have developed a network of business partners to provide our clients with a wide range of expertise. Artimech offers a range of nanotechnology products and services.
XRT - Located in Melbourne, XRT has brought together a world-class team of engineers and scientists to deliver innovative products and services for X-ray phase contrast microscopy, XRT was founded in the late 90s to commercialise unique X-ray phase contrast imaging technology originally developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Melbourne. Their mission is to become the global supplier of phase contrast imaging technology, implemented in systems manufactured by ourselves and by their commercial partners.
Quintain Consulting Pty Ltd - Quintain Consulting Pty Ltd is a private consultancy firm established in 2009, which offers strategic advice on commercialisation processes for bionanotechnology developments. They understand the challenges that are faced when taking bionanotechnology-based products through the development and commercialisation processes and can assist in managing the transition from research to marketplace.
Nanokote - Nanokote has been set up as a sales and distribution division of Micronisers with purpose of integrating the latest in nanotechnology to OEM’s in South East Asia and Australia.
nDure Technologies - nDure Technologies is an advanced materials company active in consulting, developing, sourcing & commercialisation of novel technologies. The company started its operations in July 2009 with a vision symbolised by its logo - an Arctic Tern carrying nDure across the world. The name nDure has been derived from the word ‘Endurance’, which is the hallmark of the The Arctic Tern. Current projects/products of nDure Technologies are based on it’s N.E.E.D. Program - Nanotechnology, Energy, Environment and Devices.
Kemix - Kemix is a market leader in the supply of life science materials into the Research & Development, Biotechnology and Scientific Industry. Kemix is at the forefront of this cutting-edge technology and has launched a range of Nanopowders, Carbon Nanotubes and Nanowires of various sizes to support such research by providing research size packs making it easier for researchers to conduct quality and performance related tests in their very labs.
Micronisers Pty Ltd - Micronisers Pty Ltd is a company specialising in advanced milling and chemical processes to produce products at the molecular level. Nano-sized and Sub Micron particles can be further encapsulated or coated to achieve added functionality. These highly specialised products are used in the plastics, personal care, textile, coatings, veterinarian and pharmaceutical industries. Micronisers also provides excellent production facilities and technical support for customers wishing to have proprietary products manufactured to specific requirements for particle size, distribution and encapsulation.
MiniFAB - MiniFAB is a privately-held contract engineering firm providing custom development and manufacture of disposable polymer microfluidic and microengineered products. MiniFAB was established in 2002 and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia with satellite offices in the United States and Europe. MiniFAB's internationally-renowned team of engineers, industrial designers and biochemists has completed over 900 projects with clients worldwide. Their mission is to create business success for their clients and their company by developing and manufacturing real world solutions and products using micro, nano, and biotechnologies.
Scitech Pty Ltd - Scitech Pty Ltd is a privately held company that was established in 1989. They have 20+ years of experience in providing scientific equipment to thousands of customers in industry, academia and the private sector. They supply 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 enable absolute secure communication. The technology being prototyped by QCV will enable absolute secure communication using the quantum properties of light.
Prima BioMed- Prima BioMed strives to be part of the cutting-edge for the fight against cancer by transforming the promise of science and biotechnology into therapies that have the power to restore health or even save lives of cancer patients. In everything they do, they aim to fulfill their mission to serve patients from funding the next cutting-edge medical innovation to creatively working on patient treatment delivery.
PolyNovo Biomaterials Pty Ltd - PolyNovo Biomaterials Pty Ltd a wholly owned subsidiary of Calzada Ltd (ASX:CZD), is focused on leveraging its novel patented family of biodegradable polymers NovoSorb™ for use in medical devices. The NovoSorb™ platform has impressive versatility allowing new approaches to the treatment of many diseases and injuries.
Orica - At Orica, we’re committed to developing tomorrow’s technologies and solving today’s challenges for our customers. Founded in 1874, we have built a proud tradition of leadership, innovation, quality and safety. Orica also supplies general chemicals across a diverse range of markets, including agriculture, building and construction, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and personal care, plastics, pulp and paper and water treatment industries.
Aqua Diagnostics - Aqua Diagnostic has developed a unique photoelectrochemical technology, PeCOD™, that can measure photo-current charge originating from the oxidization of organic species contained in a sample.
The PeCOD™ technology is able to photoelectrochemically generate an electrical signal that directly correlates, via mass balance, with the oxidisable organic species contained in natural or waste-water samples. The core of the technology is the ability of the UV-activated nano-particulate photocatalyst semi-conductive electrode to create a high oxidation potential which ensures complete oxidation of all oxidizable organic species, and the ability to capture and measure the resultant photo-current.
Boron Molecular - Established in 2001, Boron Molecular is a leading specialist chemical manufacturer. The company was formed around a suite of boronic acid patents (both process and composition of matter), originally developed by the CSIRO.
In 2004, Boron Molecular established a fully integrated operation in North Carolina, USA to compliment its research, development and manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Australia.
Ceramic Fuel Cells - Ceramic Fuel Cells is a world leader in commercialising Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology to generate efficient, low-emission electricity from widely available natural gas and renewable fuels.
Ceramic Fuel Cells develops, manufactures, and markets SOFC products, including engineered ceramic nanopowders, for small-scale, micro-Combined Heat & Power (micro-CHP) and distributed generation applications that co-generate electricity and heat for homes and businesses.
Ceram Polymerik - Ceram Polymerik Pty Ltd has innovative new technology in polymer nanocomposites for passive fire protection. In a fire, these composites transform into a ceramic structure once the activation temperature is reached. The technology is very effective in a wide range of plastics and rubbers. Composites can be made flexible or rigid to meet the particular requirements of a fire protection component or material.
nanoTechnology Systems - nanoTechnology Systems supplies and supports electron and ion beam systems (including TEM, SEM, ESEM and FIB) to customers throughout Australia and New Zealand. With a philosophy based on complete service, they provide fully supported systems, enabling our customers to focus on their core activities. nanoTechnology Systems support more than 100 electron microscope systems throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Seagull Technologies - Seagull Technologies has developed a novel cross-platform drug delivery method that non-invasively delivers drugs ranging from small molecules to large proteins (with or without nano-particle encapsulation) through biological tissues by an innovative combination of nanotechnology and ultrasound.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Victoria, 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 Victoria that are involved in research covering nanoscience and nanotechnology.
Deakin University – promotes the Institute for Frontier Materials which is a well-established research institute whose mission is to deal with the exciting new frontier in the development of materials so as to meet key challenges that will face people in the future. Some of their research includes micro and nano systems, nanomaterials, nanomedicine and nanotechnology. A well-equipped nanotechnology laboratory is also available.
Monash University - promotes Nanosciences at Monash, where Nanoscience research opportunities occur across many different faculties. The university also promotes the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication which provides Australia’s leading scientists and engineers with the tools to build miniature devices that could potentially revolutionise the healthcare and environmental maintenance sectors.
The University of Melbourne- promotes the Melbourne Materials Institute, which supports innovative materials research projects as part of the University. It provides many opportunities for research including Quantum and nanophotonic materials. The university also offers a Master’s level course in Chemical Systems, which can lead to a Master of Engineering (Chemical) or a Master of Engineering (Biomolecular) and professional registration as an engineer. The course prepares students for job opportunities in nanotechnology as well.
RMIT University (officially the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) - is a Melbourne-based university offering a Bachelor of Science (Nanotechnology); undergraduate programs on Nanotechnology Methodology and Nanotechnology Practice. The university also promotes RMIT Computational Nanotechnology Group and the Nanomaterials & Solar Photovoltaics Group
La Trobe University- offers the following Nano programs:
- Bachelor of Nanotechnology; Bachelor of Science (Hons)
- Master of Nanotechnology
Swinburne University of Technology - is an Australian public university based in Melbourne. Victoria. The university offers the following nano modules:
- Master of Engineering Science (Advanced Manufacturing Technology)
- Master of Technology (Advanced Manufacturing Technology)
- Graduate Certificate of Engineering (Advanced Manufacturing Technology)
- Master of Engineering (Advanced Manufacturing Technology)
Professor Min GU and Dr Xiaoping Li from the Swinburne University of Technology along with a visiting PhD student from National Chao Tung University, Taiwan have been working on tackling the e-security issue using nanotechnology. They have come up with an innovative method of encrypting data for secure electronic storage by aiming a laser beam that will enable increased data storage capacity and will encrypt information on DVD coated with gold nanoseconds.
In August 2012, Friends of the Earth lodged a complaint with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) against Ontarian, a company dealing with advanced materials stating that the company had violated the Corporations Act by not notifying the ASX that ECOCERT (certifier of organic and natural cosmetics), had suspended its certification of Ant aria's Binuclear IM product. Ontarian failed to provide evidence that ZinClear IM was not a nanomaterial, but stood its ground by reiterating that the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and the US Food and Drug Administration had repeatedly confirmed that zinc oxides such as ZinClear were safe for use in sunscreens.
In a list of Melbournes top 100 most influential people of 2012 published in The Age (Melbourne) Magazine, world leading nanotechnologist prof. Frank Caruso from the University of Melbourne was featured for his work on increasing the effectiveness of lifesaving drugs.
Monash University will house the Australian Manufacturing Innovation Precinct headquarters which will help revive the industry. This centre will promote manufacturing-based research including nanofabrication.
Researchers at Monash have also used Metal Organic Frameworks (MOF) to filter out herbicide poisons from water. Meanwhile other researchers from Monash have published work on a family of supramolecules or nanoballs that possess spin crossover capacity with potential application in computer storage. Another Monash team have used bottom-up fabrication strategies to synthesis gold nanostructures that can monitor pollution levels in the workplace. Professor Yuri Estrin from Monash has also been honoured for his work designing medical implants using nanotechnology with a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Award.
Researchers at RMIT collaborated to produce a 2-dimensional molybdenum oxide nanomaterial that encourages the free flow of electrons at ultra-high speeds that could be used in next generation electronics. Another team of researchers from RMIT have synthesised "liquid metal marbles" or liquid metal coated in nanoparticles that have potential application in electronics and industrial sensing. Another RMIT-led team have collaborated to structure niobia into a nano-architecture using a process suited to large-scale production. The technology can be used to increase the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells by at least 30%.
It is clear that there is a significant amount of nanotechnology-related activity taking place in Victoria. With new facilities coming on line, the level of activity may even accelerate.
Educational opportunities in nanotechnology also abound, making Victoria an attractive location to get involved and forge a nanotech career.
Sources and Further Reading