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Greece, a southeast European country, is located nearly at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa and covers a total area of 131,957 km2. As of 2012, it has a population of 10,767,827.
The country became a part of the NATO, the EU, and the Eurozone in 1952, 1981, and 2001, respectively. Being a developed country, Greece enjoys high standards of living. Its capitalist economy is dominated by the service sector (85.0%). Greece’s shipping sector is one of the most significant industries.
In 2011, Greece’s GDP stood at $293.9 billion. In fact, the Greek economy is larger than all the Balkan economies combined together. In addition, the General Secretariat for Research and Technology of the Ministry of Development is in charge of designing, executing, and tracking Greece’s research and technological policy.
Greece has a few organizations and networks that are dedicated to promoting nanoscience and studying the future and challenges of nanotechnology. The following sections briefly introduce the major nanotechnology-related organizations in Greece.
Nano|net is an initiative that promotes collaboration and communication between business and research organizations operating in the fields of nano-bio-technologies. The main purpose of this initiative is to promote and reinforce nanotechnologies in Europe, the Balkan area, Greece, and the rest of the world, through an inter-scientific strategy.
Nano|net was established in 2003 from the Physics Department’s Lab for Thin Films–Nanosystems and Nanometrology (LTFN) and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), as a Thematic Research Network.
National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF)
On October 9th, 1958, Royal Decree established the NHRF as a multidisciplinary research center. It is committed to the finance, organization, and support of high-level research projects in the natural sciences and the humanities.
It offers services to industrial and other organizations, supports the Photonics for Nanoapplications team (PNT), and generally takes part as industry consultants in problems pertaining to nonlinear optics, optics and optical system design, holography, nano- and micro-processing, laser-based materials, etc.
Micro&Nano Scientific Society
The Micro&Nano Scientific Society was established in 2004 as a national non-profit organization with the overall aim to promote the area of nanotechnology, microelectronics, and nanoelectronics in Greece (systems, materials, circuits, devices, and technologies).
Nanotechnology is a versatile area and, as such, it is applied in a number of industries ranging from the food industry and water treatment to space research, information technology, and medicine. Greece’s nanotechnology companies catering to these various sectors are listed below together with a short introduction to each of them.
NTX is a spin-off enterprise based in Rio-Patras, Greece. It was established by Professor Stratis V. Sotirchos of the Institute of Chemical Engineering and High-Temperature Chemical Processes (ICE-HT), one among the seven Institutes of the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH).
NTX’s activities are mainly focused on developing techniques for the low-cost, high-yield, and large-scale production of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), by making use of new nanostructured catalysts on appropriate supports.
Part of the ONEX Company Group, ONEX Global Nanotechnologies S.A. (Glonatech) is a nanotechnology firm established in Athens in October 2009. The company is headquartered in a high-tech building based in the municipality of Chalandri, just a few kilometers from the center of Athens.
Glonatech’s technical and scientific team has many years of experience in the handling and production of nanoparticles, like CNTs and ceramic oxides. Glonatech continuously improves its technologies for focused production of customized nanomaterials and takes part in research projects relating to the development of novel nanomaterials and applications of nanoparticles.
NanoPhos SA specializes in creating ingenious materials that solve day-to-day challenges. By leveraging nanotechnology, the company seeks to develop a functional environment that allows safe, comfortable, and trouble-free living. The company’s vision is clear: “Tune the nanoworld to serve the macroworld.” In other words, make nanoparticles to fulfill the requirements of people.
Nanotechnology Research and Education
Greece has a few universities that provide research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. The following sections provide a list of academic institutions and universities in Greece and the research opportunities and academic courses provided by each of them in different aspects of nanotechnology.
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki provides Masters in Nanotechnology and Nanoscience. The university supports the LTFN—an initiative of the Physics Department.
Institute of Microelectronics (IMEL)
IMEL was founded in 1986 as one among the eight Research Institutes of NCSR Demokritos (National Center for Scientific Research), which is a medium-sized, multidisciplinary research center under the General Secretarial for Research and Technology of the Ministry of Development. Its first focus on microelectronics has been extended to the areas of MEMs/NEMs and sensors, including nano-systems and nano-biosensors.
Laboratory of High Tech Materials (LHTM)
LHTM includes physics and materials science experts from theoretical, experimental, and computational solid-state physics; nanoengineering; chemistry of solids; crystallography; and from shock wave physics.
The laboratory believes that the basis for many current technologies is the synthesis and use of novel materials, and hence, it focuses on amorphous, nanostructured, and quasicrystalline materials, and hypothetical analysis of nanostructures, nanosystems, and nanomachines (for example quantum dots).
The NANOTEXNOLOGY 2013 conference was conducted at the Vellidis Congress Center, Thessaloniki, Greece from July 6th to 13th, 2013. The event also included the 6th International Symposium on Flexible Organic Electronics (ISFOE13) from July 8th to 11th, the 3rd NANOTEXNOLOGY EXPO 2013 from July 8th to 12th, the 7th International Summer Schools “N&N, OE & Nanomedicine” (ISSON13) from July 6th to 13th, and the 10th International Conference on Nanosciences & Nanotechnologies (NN13) from July 9th to 12th.
This is a yearly event targeted at investigating the opportunities available in the emerging areas of nanotechnologies and organic electronics. The event attracts over 2,000 engineers, scientists, researchers, and technical and business professionals.
During the international scientific conference NANOTECHNOLOGY 2012 (held from June 30th to July 7th, 2013), internationally recognized Greek nanotechnology researchers working overseas had visited Thessaloniki.
Most of these researchers own more than 20 nanotechnology labs in the United States alone. Their groups have achieved scientific distinctions for developing novel products with a goal to become successful in the worldwide nanotechnology market.
Phaedon Avouris is one such scientist who was nominated for the Nobel Prize. He heads IBM’s scientific group. Efthimios Kaxiras is a researcher from Harvard University’s Physics Department and was one of the key speakers at the conference. His research group was nominated for the Gordon Bell Award.
Earlier in November 2012, Greek researchers from the Athens-based NCSR Demokritos under the guidance of Dr Demosthenes Stamopoulos employed new, high-precision techniques like scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope to examine the blood of patients suffering from kidney and autoimmune diseases in a more in-depth way.
The research project demonstrated how sophisticated imaging nanotechnology methods could be used for studying and exploring the changes occurring in the human blood following the infusion of artificial plasma.
In addition, the 4th International Symposium on Nanotechnology in Construction, (NICOM4), was conducted in May 2012 in Agios Nikolaos, in the island of Crete. In August 2012, a scientific gathering of renowned researchers in the area of nanomaterials convened together to take part in “NANO2012.”
The event was conducted at The Rodos Palace Conference Center in Rhodes, and celebrated the 12th year of the conference. Supported by the International Committee on Nanostructured Materials (ICNN), the conference is a forum for debating about studies and innovative discoveries made in the area of nanomaterials.
In the meantime, the Greek economy has been in trouble since late 2009, which resulted in the mediation of a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund in May 2010 that totaled 110 billion Euros. In 2011, it turned out to be obvious that this was not adequate to save the Greek economy and hence a second bailout package was decided in 2012, offering a further 130 billion Euros.
Due to the poor state of economy, there was a direct impact on the Greek’s science field with wages of scientists being reduced and funding being pulled from education. As a result, scientific talent is being lost abroad. Owing to these reasons, the development of nanotechnology in Greece in the coming years will be slow at best and will undoubtedly be overshadowed by other countries.