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Latvia, located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, between Lithuania and Estonia, covers an area of 64,589 km2. As of 2012, it has a population of 2,191,580.
Latvia has an open economy with exports being the major contributor. The country’s 2012 GDP was $37.04 billion. The country is a member of the WTO, UN, EU, and IMF. Most of the Latvian companies are currently privatized.
Manufacturing is one of the key industry areas in Latvia. At present, nearly half of these sectors are involved in processing timber and food. In the years to come, this is expected to move toward engineering and chemicals, which have the potential to generate more revenue and do not rely on natural resources.
Listed below are the major nanotechnology companies in Latvia, together with a short introduction to each of them.
NanoLandLatvia—It is the first and only pivotal resource for nanotechnology services and products in Latvia. The company has introduced liquid glass nano-layering technology to Latvia. It is the first company to deliver a complete range of liquid glass products, as well as an ever-increasing range of nano-devices, consulting and training competencies from the top producers and universities across the globe.
Naco Technologies—The company’s know-how in functional and protective coatings is the outcome of over three decades of R&D. Using its patented technology, which is based on high-speed ion-plasma magnetron sputtering (HIPMS) in a vacuum chamber, the company can yield a broad range of high-performance multi-layer, multi-component coatings for equipment used in aerospace, automotive, tooling, and microchip industries. Their technology is the leading technique among nanocoating methods owing to its high quality, productivity, and versatility.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Latvia has several universities that offer educational and research opportunities in nanotechnology. Provided below is a list of academic institutions and universities in Latvia and the academic courses or research openings that they provide pertaining to nanotechnology.
Latvian Academy of Sciences (LAS)—It is an association of the country’s leading researchers. It is devoted to the advancement of science and superior-quality research and to the development of the culture, history, and language of Latvian people and the state, as well as Latvia’s natural resources and environment. It also advises the government and the public regarding socially applicable scientific issues.
Riga Technical University Institute of Inorganic Chemistry—This institution performs theoretical and applied investigations in the fields of chemical technology, inorganic chemistry, and materials sciences. It encourages several nano-based research activities at the national and international level.
The University of Latvia—Set up in 1919 at Riga, Latvia, it is the largest university in the Baltic States. A few of its nanotech-related research activities include nanoelectronics and composite materials technology and mathematical modeling, interfaces and thin films of functional materials, micro- and nano-mechanical properties and structure on surfaces, and study of interface effects in nanostructured and heterogeneous systems.
The University of Latvia is also home to the following:
- Institute of Solid State Physics—The Department of Semiconductor Materials manages the Laboratory of EXAFS Spectroscopy—research subjects include nanostructured materials. The Department of Crystal and Optoelectric Materials manages the Laboratory of Semiconductor Optoelectronics—research areas include synthesis of macro- and nanoscopic crystals. The Department of Photonics Materials Physics manages the Laboratory of Organic Materials—research topics include supramolecular nanostructuring of organic materials.
- Institute of Atomic Physics and Spectroscopy (IAPS)—Research projects include advanced functional materials for photonics, microelectronics, nanoelectronics, biomedicine and for the development of constructive composites, as well as suitable technologies.
Riga Technical University—The Faculty of Transport and Mechanical Engineering (FTME) combines many areas of study. It includes the Institute of Mechanical Engineering Technologies, Institute of Mechanics, and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Nanotechnologies.
According to reports in January 2013, a number of innovative projects and studies are being carried out by the scientists of the University of Latvia (UL). Chemists, physicists, and biologists from the UL are working in unison on nanostructured sensor matrices and their controlling systems.
They are also employing developed approaches and technologies for sensing new substances in the areas of nanorobotics and solar energy, which would result in new opportunities in nanomaterials application.
In November 2012, Naco Technologies reported that it was successful in developing a prototype of a nanocoating-application machine based on Russian nanotechnology. This new device has numerous applications in a broad range of fields such as metalworking, auto manufacturing, woodworking, electronics, and aircraft building.
The nanocoating can be used on several types of equipment and will triple the equipment’s operational life. The company claims that a number of billion-dollar companies are signing up for trial runs.
In 2009, Latvia was greatly affected by the global financial crisis (GFC), but since mid-2010, it has firmly recovered due to political leadership and cost-cutting.
Although Latvia may not be a key player in the field of nanotechnology, its strengthening economic position places it well to outperform other countries that are still experiencing the effects of the GFC. The chemical sector is an area of potential growth for Latvia and nanotechnology.