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Malaysia is a peninsular country situated in southeastern Asia. As of 2014, it has a population of 30,262,000 and covers a total area of 329,847 km2.
A middle-income nation, Malaysia has worked hard to expand its economy from being entirely dependent on raw materials exports to the development of manufacturing, services, and tourism. The 2012 GDP of Malaysia was reported to be $492 billion.
The country is one of the largest producers of palm oil in the world. It is also one of the world’s largest exporters of semiconductor devices, electrical goods, and information and communication technology products.
Malaysia has a few organizations and networks working toward boosting nanoscience as well as investigating the future of nanotechnology. A short introduction to these nanotechnology-related organizations in Malaysia is given below.
- Malaysia Nanotechnology Association—It was set up to execute the National Nanotechnology Directorate, which includes spearheading the National Nanotechnology Initiative and organizing nano-related events. They will realize this by creating policies, coordinating R&D in nanotechnology, and supporting the available nanotechnology research centers by improving human capital development in nanoscience and technology, supporting new research facilities, and networking with industry to be on or above par of the existing economy while simultaneously developing a solid network internationally.
- National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)—The aim of NNI is to promote nanotechnology for the sustainable benefit of science, industry, technology, and the economy.
Nanotechnology is applied in a wide range of industry sectors. The top nanotechnology companies in Malaysia are mentioned below along with a short introduction to each of them.
- Nanopac—It is an ISO 9001 certified manufacturing company and a Nano-Photocatalyst Energy and Environmental Engineering company. Nanopac Design Office has qualified nanotechnology engineers and is a totally equipped nanotechnology manufacturer with the skills and approvals to design, test, and certify.
- NanoMalaysia Berhad—It was set up in 2011 as a company limited by guarantee (CLG) to act as a business entity entrusted with nanotechnology commercialization undertakings. It will also aid the operations of the NanoMalaysia Centre.
- Nano Silver Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (NSM)—NSM, set up in June 2004, is a High Technology Company which concentrates on research, development, and marketing of nanotechnology products. Over several years of R&D, their research team has effectively applied nanotechnology in the field of poultry, agro-based products, water treatment, and others. With this technology advancement, they can enhance productivities and efficiencies, leading to lower production costs.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Malaysia has a few universities that offer educational and research opportunities in nanotechnology. Some of the universities and their nanotechnology involvement are listed below.
- University of Nottingham (Malaysia Campus)—Centre for Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials—It is actively involved in the study of nanotechnology and advanced materials. This includes the development of new materials and alterations to existing ones to acquire superior performance in features such as durability and strength.
- University of Kebangsaan—Institute of Microengineering and Nanotechnology (imen)—It is a strategic initiative for pursuing multidisciplinary study on Microengineering and Nanoelectronics. It is a national R&D center for Malaysia in this field.
- Universiti Malaysia Perlis—Institute of Nano Electronic Engineering (INEE)—It is a center for invention, research, and expertise in Malaysia. INEE emphasizes on nanoelectronics engineering research activities that concentrate on nano biochips, memory devices, novel devices, and nano photonic devices.
- Advanced Materials Research Centre (AMREC)—It is a part of SIRIM Berhad, which is a 100% owned company of the Malaysian Government. AMREC is Malaysia’s center of development for advanced materials technology.
- University of Malaya—Centre for Research in Nanotechnology and Catalysis (NANOCEN)—The main objectives of this center are to perform research in advanced materials, nanoscience and nanotechnology, catalysis, and chemicals that are of critical importance to the Malaysian economy.
- University Putra Malaysia—It offers MSc and PhD program in nanomaterials and nanotechnology.
- Malaysia Multimedia University—It offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Engineering majoring in Nanotechnology (Nano-Engineering).
- Malaysia University of Science and Technology—It offers BSc in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering with Business Management.
In early 2015, Professor Dr Mahiran Basrinew a lecturer at the Faculty of Science, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), fruitfully developed substances made of oils and fats, leading to an innovation formulated through nanotechnology. This could provide noteworthy benefits to the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
In May 2012, a Malaysian delegation took part in the Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST) at Myanmar International Convention Center (MICC), in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. The delegation was headed by Y. Bhg. Dato’ Dr Sharifah Zarah Syed Ahmad, Deputy Secretary General (Policy & Innovation) MOSTI.
Myanmar expressed interest in partnering with Malaysia to investigate technology, science, and innovation together specifically in areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, ICT, and innovation, and transfer of technology to develop better bilateral relations.
The NanoMalaysia Summit and Expo 2012 was conducted at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in November that year. It was arranged by the National Nanotechnology Directorate and held along with the World Innovation Forum Kuala Lumpur 2012. It offered a platform for networking and developing new business deals among industries, investors, and scientists from academia. The Nano Exhibition was a means to highlight the new innovations and to promote the awareness of the use of nanotechnology to improve everyday life.
In November 2012, Industrial Nanotech, Inc., a worldwide leader in nanoscience solutions, aimed to spread its presence in Asia and boost the use of its key product—Nansulate®. Petronas in Malaysia has already started testing Nansulate® coatings for providing insulation and preventing corrosion in challenging work environments. Industrial Nanotech, Inc. has also located crucial distributors in the Asia region and will finalize agreements with countries like India, Malaysia, and Oman in the first half of 2013.
IBM Malaysia struck a deal with NanoMalaysia Bhd in November 2012 to work together on research in the field of nanotechnology design and development for a period of two years. The official announcement of this partnership was made at the Iskandar Malaysia Sustainability Summit 2012.
The two companies will be involved in research concerning the commercial use of Malaysian-made graphene and aerogel, as well as testing of the anti-microbial star polymer technology for healthcare applications developed by IBM. Their combined interests will extend to areas such as electronics, computational science, healthcare, and energy storage.
Scientists at the University Teknologi MARA have performed tests on Kevlar fabrics coated with natural rubber latex. It was observed that the use of nano fillers enhanced the puncture resistance when compared to uncoated fabrics.
Malaysia also organized the Nano Expo 2014, which was conducted at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur in March. In spite of the tough economic times internationally, the Malaysian economy has continued to grow over the last five years. In 2010, they spent 0.63% of GDP on R&D, which is comparatively lower than the likes of Singapore which spent 2.2% of GDP.
The field of nanotechnology in Malaysia is still in its infancy. Although the government, through initiatives like the NNI, has identified nanotechnology as a vital factor in the economic development of the nation, it will take some time to achieve the needed infrastructure and to start attracting top-class researchers needed for realizing noteworthy research outputs.
The building phase will continue in the immediate future and substantial developments are not possible for the next few years when their nanotechnology commitments begin to mature but could be enhanced through increased levels of spending by the government.