Self cleaning paint, miniature sensors that detect disease in its early stages and next generation batteries are all revolutionary products that could result from research undertaken at the new $57 million Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication.
Opening the centre in Clayton today, Premier John Brumby and Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings heralded the facility as important for Victoria to seize the massive export and investment potential in this exciting emerging field.
“This state-of-the-art nanofabrication centre – the largest research facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere – puts Victoria at the forefront of an exciting science and helps ensure our state remains Australia’s science leader,” Mr Brumby said.
“This initiative will also create jobs, not only in the facility but in the many industries that develop products here.
“The Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN) will give Victorian businesses and researchers greater opportunities to access the technology and expertise they need to develop innovative commercial products and collaborate on projects in this growing sector.”
The Victorian Government has provided $15 million in funding for the MCN through its Science, Technology and Innovation initiative along with a matching grant of $15 million from the Commonwealth Government.
Mr Brumby said the $15 million from the Victorian Government brings the government’s investment in infrastructure to enable the development of applications in small technologies to more than $250 million.
“This investment has been directed to the Australian Synchrotron, Monash University’s Electron Microscopy facility and CSIRO’s Niche Manufacturing Flagship,” Mr Brumby said.
“Victoria is home to around half of Australia's small technologies companies and these facilities mean Victoria is a leader in developing innovative technologies that advance our health and wellbeing and improve our quality of life.”
Mr Brumby said the impact of nanotechnologies could not be underestimated.
“Micro and nanotechnologies are already playing a part in reducing energy consumption by helping develop new energy-efficient materials and coatings, next generation batteries, and renewable energy technologies using solar power,” he said.
“The MCN will serve as an open access user facility for industry and research purposes – improving productivity and allowing businesses to draw on new methods of research and development using small technologies.”
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has forecast that the impact of microtechnologies and nanotechnologies will be greater than US$3 trillion by 2015. A Commonwealth Government review predicted nanotechnology could be worth up to AU$50 billion to the Australian economy in new products and processes by 2015.
“The MCN will ensure that our state remains at the forefront of this incredible opportunity and continues to create jobs for Victorian families,” Mr Brumby said.
Mr Jennings said nanotechnology was an exciting field and research could lead to some ground- breaking developments.
“Nanofabrication could be responsible for the development of clothing that could cool you off on a hot day or solar-powered material that could charge your phone or MP3 player,” Mr Jennings said.
“While this might sound like science fiction these are the types of things that are being developed around the world and could be developed at the MCN.
“The MCN’s sophisticated equipment will enable the production of devices, customised sensors and integrated systems with applications in biomedicine, energy, nanoelectronics and environmental management.”
Mr Jennings said the Victorian Government was also pleased to provide $1.5 million to Hysport International to create a prototype glove for use in the Victorian corrections system.
“The glove project will use groundbreaking textile fibre and architecture technologies to develop a material that better resists microbiological pathogens and is puncture and heat resistant,” Mr Jennings said.
“It is just one example of the kind of revolutionary product that may be developed at this facility in the future that will have very practical uses across the community.”
The CSIRO, Monash University, Deakin University, La Trobe University, Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Melbourne and RMIT University, also contributed $15 million to build the MCN. There was also $12 million of in-kind support from the academic partners.