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Argentina is a South American country located between Uruguay and Chile. The country has a total area of 2,780,400 km2. As of July 2012, its population was 42,192,494.
Argentina has an upper middle-income economy with an export-focused agricultural sector and a diversified industrial sector. The country’s GDP was $746.9 billion in 2012.
The country’s population is highly literate. Although the science budget from the government is meager, academics and the sciences in Argentina manage to draw global respect. Three Nobel Prize laureates in sciences are from Argentina.
Argentina has several organizations and networks dedicated to promoting nanoscience and investigating the challenges and future of nanotechnology. Mentioned below are the leading nanotechnology-related organizations in Argentina.
Fundacion Argentina De Nanotecnologia (FAN)—Its key responsibility is to boost domestic nano-based production for local use and to integrate local industry into international markets. FAN has performed a nanotechnology program for industry and society since early 2010, with more than 20 meetings held throughout the country.
Centro Argentino De Ingenieros (CAI) (Argentine Center of Engineers)—It is a civil non-profit comprising professionals from all branches of engineering, surveying, architecture, and allied professionals. It also includes institutions consistent with the objectives of the center, and companies that desire to partner in raising the standards of engineering, for the betterment of the nation.
Argentine-Brazilian Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology—It is the first bi-national nanotechnology organization in Argentina that aims to promote technology and science, and to boost productivity between Argentina and Brazil. Set up in November 2005, it fosters knowledge sharing, new research facilities, and human resource training.
Laboratoire International Franco-Argentin en Nanosciences (LIFAN)—It is an International Associated Laboratory in Nanoscience and nanotechnologies launched to increase collaboration between France and Argentina. This collaboration enables them to match international competition, draw PhD students or post-doctorate students, and to expand technical resources.
A short introduction to a key nanotechnology-based company in Argentina is given below.
Nanotek—It is a research and development company with a keen interest in nanotechnology. The vision of Nanotek is to be a world leader using nanotechnology to enhance the quality of life. Their mission is to focus on researching, manufacturing, and marketing products and services for the development of nanotechnology market. Their nano-products can be used in several fields such as roads, mining, health materials, textiles, etc.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Argentina has a few universities that offer research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. They are listed below.
The Research Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physical Chemistry (Instituto de Investigaciones Fisicoquímicas Teóricas y Aplicadas INIFTA)—It is a theoretical and applied physical chemistry research institute located on the premises of the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, (UNLP), La Plata, Argentina. The nanotechnology-based research activities include the following areas:
- Surface Science and Nanoscience
- Nanostructured Systems: Basic Structural Aspects and Applications
- Development of New Methods for Surface Nanostructuring
- Experimental Studies Based on Synchrotron Light Techniques
National University of Quilmes—Offers a nanomedicine program.
On April 10th, 2012, the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute, Bariloche, Argentina, arranged a lunch seminar led by Nadim Morhell, a physicist, to hold a debate about the outcomes of the research activities carried out within the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute. Earlier, the Institute had built a new device to measure blood viscosity using just a single drop of blood. The device is still in the lab stage, but its advantages will be well accepted by medical doctors of the neonatology discipline who prefer low sample measurements.
Researchers from FAN are keen on bringing nanotechnology into the public spotlight and educating the public on what nanotechnology is and how it can be useful to them. They have been engaging with the public at Megaferia and describing how nanotechnology can profit everyone on a day-to-day basis.
El Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial (INTI) or the National Institute for Industrial Technology has showcased a nanotechnology lab at the Technopolis science fair. The lab offers visitors the chance to interact with nanotechnology so that they can learn about things such as nanoparticles, nanofabrication, nanocomposites, and nanomanipulation.
The GDP of Argentina has grown at a compound rate of 6.8% over the last five years, but this number could have been even greater. Restriction on imports, stringent capital controls and increasing regulatory pressure on the private sector, elimination of the autonomy of the central bank, and seizure of approximately $30 billion in private pension funds have severely hampered the nation’s investment profile.
Although the GFC only had a marginal impact on Argentina, its innovation system has been hampered by a feeble R&D capability. Between 2005 and 2010, the average increase in GERD was 13.2%, but the overall R&D commitment was very low at 0.62% of GDP.
The Argentinean government has recognized this and has raised the budget of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Productive Innovation (MINCYT) from US$510 million in 2010 to US$732 million in 2012. They have also commenced the development of their R&D capabilities using the Bases for a Science, Technology and Innovation Strategic Plan (2005–2015).
While Argentina has started making advances into teaching the public about nanotechnology through numerous programs, which is excellent, their road to boosting the nanotechnology industry is still at infancy. Low education levels have rendered technology development challenging. Rising levels of government funding and larger commitment to R&D will help, but foreign investment would speed up things further. Although the latter seems uncertain with high levels of political interference and widespread corruption. Hence, noteworthy advancements in the field of nanotechnology in Argentina seem to be far off.