Australia's place in the international nanotechnology market has been strengthened with the opening of a $10m, state-of-the-art nanofabrication facility at UNSW.
Improved cancer treatments, new solar power and communications technologies, and a next-generation bionic eye are among the projects enabled by equipment in the NSW Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).
Officially opening the new facility, NSW Chief Scientist and Scientific Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, welcomed it as an important addition to the State's high-tech infrastructure.
UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field said the NSW Node was vital to maintaining research at a level equal to the best in the world.
Operating within state-of-the-art cleanrooms, the NSW Node of ANFF provides advanced nanofabrication tools, training and specialist advice to industrial, academic and government researchers working in nanotechnology-related fields.
Nano-scale devices, which can measure just a few millionths of a millimetre, have applications in areas including computer chips, pharmaceuticals and building materials.
NSW Node Director, Professor Andrew Dzurak of the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, said the new facility will benefit academic research and, importantly, allow established industry groups and new start-up companies to conduct vital research and development without going offshore.
"The value of current investment and the expected market internationally at present is of the order of $1 trillion and over the next decade the value of the market for products incorporating nanotechnology is expected to increase to around $10 trillion," Professor Dzurak said.
"Already every computer chip incorporates nanotechnology and the applications of this area extend to every field of scientific research. What we now have is a coordinated, national facility where researchers from universities, companies or government around Australia can directly access world-class equipment."
Key capabilities of the NSW Node of ANFF include high-resolution electron beam lithography tools for creating nano-scale devices and processing facilities for advanced silicon wafers for use in computing and solar power.