Mainland forges ahead with pioneer technology
Staff Reporter in Beijing
An American equipment manufacturer and the Chinese Academy of Sciences yesterday jointly opened a research centre for nanotechnology.
The process involves refining things down to their smallest elements and rebuilding them into pharmaceuticals or semi-conductors.
China sets a high value on nanotechnology. The government has budgeted two billion yuan (HK$1.8 billion) to develop it, and the Ministry of Science is behind the new national research centre. The company, Veeco Instruments, wants to raise its profile commercially. It has sold 100 pieces of equipment in China over the past decade.
'This really marks a major step up in our investment and technology in China,' said Don Kania, president of a Veeco division in California. 'It's an emerging market. We'll be in a leadership position in marketing and research over next few years.'
The academy's Institute of Chemistry will run the Nanotechnology Centre at the academy's existing facilities in Beijing, largely to 'study more deeply' the technology itself, said centre vice-director Wan Lijun.
About 10 engineers and scientists will staff the centre and contract their services to companies that want to use nanotechnology for their businesses.
In theory, the academy's research could lead to more advanced semi-conductors or pharmaceuticals. China follows the United States, Europe and Japan in exploring the technology, which became popular in the 1990s and has been described as a building-block substitute for silicon.
'In a lot of ways, I see this as the Wild West,' Mr Kania said, suggesting that as nanotechnology grows in China, so will equipment sales. 'Investment is taking place, and there are a lot of smart entrepreneurs in this country.'