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Big future for nanotechnology

Agency plans to make Thailand regional centre for molecular-level technology

The National Nanotechnology Centre (Nanotec) has revealed plans to make Thailand the focus of the emerging nanotechnology industry in the Asean region.

The centre's executive director, Sirirurg Songsivilai, said Nanotec had formed a strategy to nurture and support Thailand's emerging nanotechnology industries with the aim of making the country the regional centre. Nanotechnology is technology on an atomic or molecular scale.

The agency is creating a network cluster involving the education and private sectors and researchers, which will focus on developing nanotechnology in three core areas: nanomaterials, nanobiotechnology and nanoelectronics. This will be aimed at supporting local industries, including textiles, food, energy and electronics, as well as emerging industries related to nanotechnology.

"We plan to be a centre of excellence for nanotechnology-related industries in the Asean region in the near future," Sirirurg said. "Meanwhile, we will use nanotechnology to create a knowledge-based society and improve the quality of life for Thai people."

In its first step, covering the next couple of years, Nanotec will support scientists, researchers and developers in the creation of nanotextiles featuring fire-retardant fibres and hygienic fibres, to support the textile industry. It will also develop cosmeceutical products, which are cosmetic or skincare products that incorporate pharmaceutical qualities, for the local cosmeceutical industry, he said.

"We will use nanotechnology to create new industries or add value to existing or emerging industries, to give Thailand added competitiveness. We will also transfer new technology to researchers, industries, and the private and education sectors, in order to create new products for commercial markets," Sirirurg said.

In a future step, Nanotec will use nanotechnology to help in the development of new low-cost solar cells, such as dye-sensitized solar cells. These will aim to support the energy industry or emerging industries. It will also use new technology to develop an innovative medical diagnostic and treatment system involving nanoparticles. In this case, the molecules of certain pharmaceuticals may be used in a new and simple method of delivering drugs or vaccines to medical patients.

"Thai scientists and researchers have the potential to use nanotechnology to develop new products to support various industries. Our human resources are of high quality, with high literacy and skills, and they are capable of boosting Thailand's competitiveness," he said.

Nanotec believes that by 2013, Thailand will have more than 50 nanotechnology companies and more than 300 nanotechnology patents. Revenue generated by nanotechnology products will reach Bt100 billion, Sirirurg said.



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