Japan’s nano program encourages interdisciplinary cooperation

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June 22, 2004 – In April, one of Japan’s premier national laboratories, the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), launched its International Center for Young Scientists (ICYS) project, a new research program designed specifically to recruit non-Japanese, English-speaking nanotechnology researchers in their 20s and 30s to Japan.

The project, located north of Tokyo in Tsukuba, held its inauguration symposium in June.

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Interdisciplinary cooperation in the project was encouraged with no research team leaders assigned, and groups free to set their own study initiatives. The groups included 33 member researchers of the ICYS: eight Japanese and 25 non-Japanese, including seven Chinese, four Britons and three Germans.

Meanwhile, NIMS also claimed a major breakthrough in nanotechnology device applications with NEC Corp. and the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

In March, the partners said they had developed a switching technology for programmable, solid-state circuits that uses a nanoscale metal bridge.

Called NanoBridge, the technique creates or impedes an electrically conductive channel by stretching a metallic bridge controlled by an electrochemical reaction inside a solid electrolyte. Translation: Smaller, faster, cheaper chips.


Saigon Hi-Tech Park, a Vietnamese research laboratory, was recently reported to have made the nation’s first nanomaterials. The center teamed with the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology to produce nanomaterials for printer inks.

In April, Taiwan’s National Science Council announced it would set up a new science and technology division in Hanoi to train

Vietnamese scientists in nanotechnology and biotechnology — along the way, strengthening research and development links with emerging countries.

South Korea

The South Korean government plans to spend about $150 million to build two nanotechnology cluster centers over the next five years, according to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.

The ministry said it would provide services ranging from research support and production to sales of nanometer-scale materials, work processes, and equipment. The government also said it would make early commercial use of the technology over the next four years.

Meanwhile, the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) proposed a northeast Asian cooperative committee for science and technology at the second meeting of director-level officials from South Korea, China and Japan.

The ministry first proposed setting up a trilateral forum in 2001. MOST wants the three nations to run annual minister-level science and technology talks, northeast Asian science and technology cooperation programs and joint studies.

Also, South Korea began inauguration of the Korean-German Institute of Technology, a new $260 million Korean-German information technology, engineering, nanotechnology and environmental energy research center.

The center will employ about 80 German professors from 12 major engineering colleges. It’s scheduled for completion in 2007.

Sino-French cooperation

In April, the Sino-French Science Application Foundation announced it would provide money to 20 to 30 Chinese students to do their post-doctorate research and study nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and biological safety in France.

Initial selection interviews began in May for scholarships starting in September and October.


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