Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

International collaboration in Nanotechnology: the views from young researchers in the EU

Article
Six european PhD students talk about Tenth International Nanotechnology Conference on Communication and Cooperation (INC10)

The students were invited by the European Commission to participate in the Tenth International Nanotechnology Conference on Communication and Cooperation (INC10). They met with senior fellows from EU, Japan and US, and discussed about the current challenges of nanotechnology. Read about their experience, and see also how engaging they can be.

 

Umberto Celano: Ph.D. student, Imec/ KU Leuven, The Netherlands

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Umberto_Celano
Favorite source: www.eetimes.com/

The INC10 experience has been refreshing and inspiring. Though each region has a different approach on the advances of nanotechnology research, all are converging on the strong need for interchange of ideas and cooperation among people in the nanotech fields. Whether you are in the bio, energy or electronic sector there are plenty of opportunities for exchange and reciprocal improvement among these countries. Finally, the frame of National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) was definitely the cherry on the cake for a metrology guy like me!

 

Jana Tittmann: Ph.D. student, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jana_Tittmann

Attending the INC for the first time, I’m positively surprised by how it’s working out. There is a nice mixture of politics and research topics. Networking is the magic word here and it seems to know no borders of age or career step. To get an idea of how much efforts are made in different regions of the world, this is the perfect opportunity. Only one negative point: the intense programme didn't allow conversations going into more detail or creating new ideas for collaborations. This could definitely be improved at the next conference.

 

Yinghuan Kuang: Ph.D. student, Utrecht University, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

http://nl.linkedin.com/pub/yinghuan-kuang/36/635/406


With nanomanufacturing, nanoelectronics, nanostructured renewable energy systems, nanoinformatics, and nanosensors in the programme, INC10 was a great place for discussing and sharing ideas in both frontier research and realistic applications. Collaboration among US, Japan and Europe is essential in the near future to make further substantial progress, as well as to avoid the fancy technology only floating in the sky. The scientists should not only be satisfied with their individual achievements and celebrate that with beer in the Friday afternoon in the laboratory. I consider also important the bridge between the advanced technology and the implication in the society. When pursuing the advance of nanotechnology, the negative effects on the environment and society should not be ignored.INC10 attracted the attention also on the environmental implications of the nanotechnology and the concept of green nanotechnology.

 

Lourens van Dijk: Ph.D. student, Utrecht University, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

http://nl.linkedin.com/pub/lourens-van-dijk/14/59a/40a

Funding: Dutch NanoNextNL program - Favorite source: scientificamerican.com

I strongly believe Nanotechnology can help solve economical and technological issues, but it won’t intrinsically change human behavior. When you are in the United States this fact becomes strikingly clear: if you give people the freedom to exploit nature, they will do so, even though they know the long-term consequences. Nanotechnology won’t intrinsically make us more independent, stronger or happier, but it can certainly help us if it is used well. Collaboration is a crucial element to keep Nanotechnology developing. INC is a useful platform to induce these essential global collaborations between industry and academia.

It might be a good idea to combine the conference with a short exchange program. It would be interesting to have about one week extension to meet the local researchers. From that, it might be easier to start new collaborations. My colleague Yinghuan and I stayed a bit longer in Maryland to meet some people from the NIST and go more in depth on our research (solar cell) topic.

 

Jordi Cools: Ph.D. student, Imec/ KU Leuven, The Netherlands

Strong and inspirational presentations, fruitful discussions and excellent networking opportunities: the tenth edition of the International Nanotechnology Conference on Communication and Cooperation (INC10) has proven to be both an essential and effective platform for sharing knowledge and expertise to overcome today’s scientific and societal hurdles. From the very first day it became clear that all regions (United States, Japan & Europe) are very aware that the broad field of nanotechnology can (and will) have an enormous impact on society worldwide. While it became clear that each region has made tremendous progress in various fields of science and technology (e.g. safety and security, healthcare, lighting, biochips,...), one common R&D effort is definitely the thrust to extend Moore’s law. Significant and rapid progress in the field of nanoelectronics will only be possible through worldwide intensive collaboration, which, in its turn, will lead to even greater advances throughout the strata of science. Therefore, big investment programs like Horizon 2020, NNI and ImPACT are, in my opinion, one of the key ways to ensure a vibrant, sustainable and prosperous future for generations to come. There is still a long way to go, and although no single roadmap can guarantee complete success, I am confident that further communication and cooperation on a global scale will definitely lead to more visionary ideas and technologies that will benefit our society in the future.

 

Devin Verreck: Ph.D. student, Imec/KU Leuven, The Netherlands

Favorite source: www.nanohub.org , Nanoclast

Nanotechnology is a broad field. After these three days at INC10, attending presentations of policy makers and researchers, I believe this almost trivial observation lies at the heart of the organizational structures in the different regions. The breadth of topics denoted as ‘nanotechnology’ is often, rightly I think, heralded as a strength and an opportunity, but when it comes to launching funding initiatives on a continental scale, it becomes an important challenge. Which projects do you include and which do you leave out? What is true ‘nanotech’ and what is simply old science, rebranded as such to surf on the hype? I think it’s therefore a positive evolution that the three regions present at INC take initiatives to bring structure into this complexity. As a European, I’m happy to see that a program as ambitious as Horizon 2020 is as detailed as it is, stating precise targets for the different funding resources. However, the work is not finished with a detailed plan. Careful monitoring and follow-up will be needed to make sure nanotech funding is given to true, innovative nanotechnology. Finally, I would like to underline the importance of the EU ‘Flagship projects’ on graphene and the human brain. It’s ambitious projects like these that inspire young researchers like us, and which show the importance and value of European integration and cooperation for scientific progress.

 

The Tenth International Nanotechnology Conference on Communication and Cooperation (INC10) was hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland on May 13-15, 2014. This conference offers a good platform for EU researchers get an overview of the initiatives in the different world regions (EU - Japan – U.S.) on Nanotechnology. We had three days of presentations, spanning from bio-nanotechnology to nano-scaled energy systems and CMOS ultimate CMOS scaling. Although there are differences among the organizations and institutions, the ultimate goal is the same: to foster the international collaboration within Nanotechnology research worldwide.

Follow the conversations on @Electronics_EU