Innovation in Australia's nanotechnology sector
Australia’s information and technology sector contributes to 38% of the global IT market and is also the third largest in the Asia-Pacific region. Even with those numbers, the technology industry in Australia isn’t finished expanding. In fact, Australia has been experiencing an increasing growth over the past decades in this very industry as it’s now merging itself into other industries such as medicine, environmental, and military. But what is it in comparison to other nations that are pushing the expansion of the tech industry in Australia? Well, this is all happening with the help of nanotechnology.
Many of us, though may have heard of nanotechnology, know very little about the industry. Nanotechnology uses science, engineering, and technology to control individual atoms and molecules. Now, truly understanding the size and complexities of this is a challenge. One nanometer is measured as one billionth of a meter. But still, that doesn’t give you a clear picture of how small a nanometer is. For example, in one inch there are 25,400,000 nanometers and the thickness of one sheet of newspaper is around 100,000 nanometers thick. In other words, a nanometer is extremely small. However, due to its size, it doesn’t follow the same laws of physics, meaning that it can be manipulated, having its properties changed. But what does this mean? Through the manipulation of atoms, scientists are about the alter properties, making an object lighter and stronger. These enhancements are highly valuable in every industry which is why Australia is jumping on the opportunity to develop it.
When we talk about enhancing global industries through nanotechnology, what does this imply? Well, nanotechnology doesn’t just cover efficiency in electronics, it can be used to cover a ray of other applications in our everyday lives. Through nano-inspired technology, doctors are able to change the way they diagnose and treat patients. They’re able to detect cancers and bacterial infections through the use of nanoparticles on DNA. It allows exploration of oil and gas in environmentally-friendly ways, reducing environmental damage. Mobile phones are created lighter and thinner with a longer battery life so users can browse the web without keeping an eye on their battery life. In addition, nanotechnology can be applied to enhance local and national security, purify water, aid marine protection, communications and lighter electronics. Though these applications are significant, this is just a mere example of the power of nanoscience.
Nadia Levin, CEO of Research Australia, stated, “In 1965, Intel co-found Gordon Moore correctly predicted exponential growth in computing technology, with computer power to double in capacity, and halve in price every two years. Common computers since that time have gone from the size of houses to rooms to watched and beyond, and their capabilities today are at levels considered sci-fi even at the turn of this century. So we know three things that are relevant here. We know that nanotechnology is the next logical step on a path outlined and trend identified, more than half a century ago. Even in these early years, we know that the implications of, and applications for, nanotechnology in the health and medical research sector are nothing less than revolutionary. And we know that Australia can either choose to dedicate resources to being part of the emerging nanotechnology field, and to invest in the opportunities that go along with it or not.”
With that being said, Australia knew that it had to harness the fruits of its labor. As this is a multi-disciplinary science, Australia is able to cover a wide-range of applications, enhancing technology not only for profit but for global progress. This nanotech revolution is far from over. The Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology is a multi-million-dollar funded institution focusing solely on the nanotechnology. As it continues to develop, if true progress is to be made, specialized laboratories will boost breakthrough science. Through the development of this institution, Australia marks itself as a world leader in the almost $3 trillion market and it’s been predicted that it’ll only continue to grow. In fact, the Australian Academy of Science’s National Nanotechnology Research Strategy warned that industries who fail to invest in nano-inspired technology will be left behind as products in every industry will continue to improve.
Though decades ago nanotechnology simply seemed like a sci-fi concept, it’s clearly being developed and used in today’s society. What will come to it is whether or not industries and states will jump on board or be left behind Australia’s nanotech revolution.