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Spain is a Southwestern European Country located to the southwest of France. It covers a total area of 505,370 km2. As of July 2014, the country had a population of 47,464,053.
The country has a mixed capitalist economy that is known to be the fifth largest in the European Union, and its tourism sector is the second largest in the world. In addition, Spain supports the production and development of renewable energy like wind energy and solar power. In 2013, Spain’s GDP was $1.393 trillion.
The biotechnology sector and the fertilizers and chemicals sector, are the two noticeable areas which have been growing recently. Increased investment into research and development has resulted in the growth of the biotechnology sector, while both could possibly gain from developments related to nanotechnology.
Spain has several networks and organizations dedicated to supporting and investigating nanoscience. Given below is a short description of the leading nanotechnology-related organizations in Spain.
The foundation targets its activities on nanotechnology and nanoscience, and is a major player in fostering and structuring European Excellence and improving partnerships in this domain. Its aim is to offer a novel platform to disseminate, transfer, and transform basic nanoscience knowledge, as well as to reinforce interdisciplinary studies in nanotechnology and nanoscience. It also brings about a collaboration among global research teams, and supports the emergence of new joint project proposals.
It is a Spanish Nanotechnology meeting point for over 337 research teams that are members of this organization. The main objective of this set-up is knowledge sharing in varied domains pertaining to nanoscience and nanotechnology, and increasing partnerships among industry, research institutions, and universities.
Foundation for the R+D in Nanotechnology (FideNa)
It is a non-profit research center established in 2007 and supported by SODENA after an initiative by the Government of Navarra. The foundation started its activity in August 2008. The Public University of Navarra (UPNA), which became a part of this initiative, collectively opened a research center in nanotechnology in Navarra, in the Campus of the Public University. The center has been operational since August 2008. FideNa’s main aim is to attain the impact of nanotechnology in the business base of Navarra and, at the same time, increase the society’s wealth and welfare.
Situated in the Barcelona area, CIN2 is a major player in the development of nanotechnology and nanoscience in Spain and Catalonia. Its aim is to be a global referent of scientific excellence. The company is a mixed center created by the Institut Català de Nanotecnologia (ICN) and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). This joint intellectual collaboration covers everything from fundamental studies in nanoscience to uses of nanotechnology, interfacing with the industrial setting.
As a versatile field, nanotechnology can be applied to a wide range of industries. For Spanish-based companies, there is a huge scope to use nanotechnology and contribute to the country. Given below are Spanish-based firms focused on nanotechnology along with a brief description to each of them.
NanoBioMatters Industries SL
It is a state-of-the-art material science company focused on engineered clay-based additives. The aim of this company is to boost the performance of materials using exclusive, low-cost, and sustainable additive technology.
The company specializes in developing laboratory equipment. Its aim is to provide the required technical support or instruments to engineers and scientists for the deposition of various micro-nanostructured materials, including colloids, films, and coatings. Leveraging its experience achieved in recent years, Nadetech Innovations has adapted the equipment according to the clients’ requirements.
The company’s products and services can be used in many different fields such as high-performance nanocomposites, advanced materials, nanotechnology, biochemical coatings, chemistry, surface physics, wet deposition, clean technology, monolayer and colloidal research, and many more.
Izasa is part of the Werfen Group. It is one of the first companies to provide products for clinical diagnosis in the hospital industry in the Iberian Peninsula. Izasa’s structure is built on product specialization based on the requirements of the market in which it functions. The company’s product groups are Grupo Vitro Diagnostics group and Scientific Instrumentation Group. The former aims to provide custom-made solutions for clinical labs, regardless of the laboratory area, while the latter has an array of products targeted at sectors where there is a need for high-precision instruments.
Established in 1958, RAMEM Spanish SME has been operating in the scientific instrumentation field for the last two decades. In the last 10 years, the company has ventured into the area of Aerosol and Volatile Detection Technology via its brand IONER®, creating proprietary technology. This effort resulted in a complete range of equipment to categorize and identify sub-micrometric and nanometric particles, volatiles, and ions.
The company’s products are produced in accordance with standard quality procedures (ISO 9001 and EN/ISO 9100), and employ a proprietary and patented technology.
It is a privately owned company established in 2001 by a group of biotech entrepreneurs as well as scientists from the University of Seville. Ingeniatrics was established in response to the concept of creating a vehicle to implement a variety of applications for a Technology Platform that includes a host of technologies that enable the differential handling of many different fluids.
Ingeniatrics Tecnologías has its own industrial technology to create and develop microparticles and nebulizers with more than 70 patents and applications at the national and international levels. In addition, Flow Blurring® and Flow Focusing® technologies are developed to create microparticles, emulsions, particles, and aerosols in micro- and nanoscale.
It is a full-service supplier and focuses on designing, developing, and manufacturing automobile industry components. It provides multi-technological solutions for modular interior parts. Grupo Antolin targets four major functions—Lighting, Seat, Door, and Overhead.
Customer portfolio of Grupo Antolin includes almost all carmakers across the globe. The Spanish company is ranked 55th among the major suppliers in the automotive sector across the world. It has 22 technical-commercial offices and over 100 plants. Grupo Antolin’s trademark is GRAnPH® Nanotech in the nanotechnology field, aiming to provide better quality graphene products for advanced applications, and also other carbon-based nanocomposites and nanostructures.
Graphenea is a top graphene manufacturer that meets research and industrial requirements. It has devised an advanced synthesis and transfer process to achieve highly uniform monolayer graphene films on any type of substrate. Graphenea’s specialties are graphene oxide and CVD graphene films.
The nanomedicine company Endor develops pharmaceutical products, and aims to translate its medical programs using sophisticated nanosystems to make a positive impact on the pharmaceutical market. The company develops and produces novel medical applications through inorganic nanoparticles conjugated to chosen molecules.
Cognoscible Technologies is dedicated to the well-being of humanity and the environment and is based on the Bodhisattvas’ values. It focuses on exploring what is beyond the boundaries of current science and technology, and creating products and solutions without precedents at present. Its actual explorations include healing of genetic diseases, picotechnology, application of pico- and nanotechnology to cement manufacturing, and creation of quantum computing.
It is a technology-based company founded in 2011 and is a spin-off of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). CSIC is the largest public institution committed to research in Spain and is the third largest in Europe. The Ad Particles Technology is the culmination of more than a decade of research under the scientific leadership of Professor José Francisco Fernandez Lozano (the company founder). The aim of Ad Particles is to develop, scale-up, and produce novel solutions for varied markets with the help of an original nanoparticle dispersion technology.
Nanotechnology Research and Education
Spain has several universities that provide educational and research opportunities in nanotechnology. The following sections provide a list of Spanish universities, and the research opportunities or academic courses provided by them in numerous aspects of nanotechnology.
The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO)
ICFO is a young research institution aiming to develop the very limits of knowledge in photonics, such as the science and technology to make use of light. It was established to train futuristic technicians and scientists via seminars, courses and provide access to innovative experimental infrastructures. Mentoring is also provided by scientists who are among the best in the world in their field.
Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC)
The IBEC performs frontier research with particular transfer targets to help create novel technologies for life science and health applications.
Universidad de Alicante
The university provides a Master’s degree in Molecular Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
Autonomous University of Barcelona
The university provides a Master’s degree in Nanotechnology and Materials Science, Microelectronics and Nanoelectronics Engineering, and EUROPHOTONICS—European Master in Photonics Engineering, Nanophotonics, and Biophotonics.
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
The university provides a Master’s degree in Nanotechnology and Nanoscience.
Recently, Graphenea has expanded its product portfolio by adding suspended monolayer graphene on cavities after studies surrounding nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS). NEMS, the smaller cousins of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), are venturing into mainstream technologies like optical switches, accelerometers, sensors, displays, and inkjet printers. NEMS depends on tiny vibrating membranes, which are highly sensitive to small forces. The membranes have to be rigid yet lightweight and should have a high Young’s modulus. Graphene exhibits all of these properties.
The Embassy of Spain in Tokyo was joined by the Phantoms Foundation and the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX), to support nanotechnology and nanoscience in Spain area, at Nanotech 2011. Nanotech 2011 is the largest annual international nanotechnology exhibition in the world, that was held in Tokyo in February 2011.
Spanish city Bilboa hosted 2nd ImagineNano conference in April. This actually included seven conferences under a single banner. These include nanoBio&Med 2013, Graphene 2013, SPM 2013 (Scanning Probe Microscopy), NanoSpain 2013 (the 10th edition of this conference series), NanoSD 2013 (Security and Defence), PPM 2013 (Photonics/Plasmonics/Magneto-Optics), and TNA Energy 2013 (Trends in Nanoapplications).
The conference, which featured a tradeshow, was attended by the global nanotechnology community, including investors, industry policymakers, and researchers.
At Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spanish scientists have collaborated with researchers from Germany and the United States to create a nanothermometer that has the potential to determine heat dissipation in molecular-scale circuits.
In the meantime, Spanish scientists from research centers in San Sebastián also played a role in a project that allowed the atomic-scale imaging of chemicals both before and after a reaction, demonstrating the way chemical bonds altered at the time of the reaction.
Although Spain has a number of universities and companies focused in the field of nanotechnology, the latest developments described in the earlier paragraphs together with the dismal state of the Spanish economy (anticipated to stay in recession until some part of 2014) suggest that a majority of its nanotech advances will be made in association with other countries.