Nano Technology Conclave: Wake up to Nano-revolution: Dr Sivatanu Pillai Keynote

I was invited to be part of Nano Technology Conclave 2008 organized by Tamil Nadu Technology Development & Promotion Centre, CII, and Department of Science and Technology, in association with Nomura Research Institute Japan. The highlight of the inaugural session was keynote address by Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Controller R&D – DRDO and CEO of BrahMos.

The keynote covered the entire spectrum of Nano Technology from present scene to future projections touching wide ranging industries and concerns. Here is a glimpse into some that caught my attention. I’ve categorized them into five broad areas to make my understanding easier:
peacock and nano-particles color
Dr Sivathanu Pillai caught the attention of experts and novice alike by illustrating the charm of Nano-technology using peacock feather as an example of nature’s won nano-particles at play making vivid colors. Then quickly got on to estimates for 2015 when Nano Tech will be ~ One Trillion Dollar business by conservative estimates and ~ $ 3T by libral estimates. Nano boom is set to coincide with the convergence of Information Technology, Bio-technology and Nano tech advances, with growth estimates at 50% CAGR beating the growth rate of IT and BT at ~35% and 25% respectively. Even if you take it with a pinch of salt, the numbers are just amazing.

If quantitative estimates did not sweep you, the qualitative potential will:
Nano materials and their disruptive potential

Right from the day to day dress material to aerospace materials will be re-looked and redone to incorporate nano-tech advances. A nano-particle coating on dress material will make them stain and dust resistant – changing the concept of washing them.

A shoe made of nano-material will enable a person to walk faster!?

Displays, all kinds of coating, chemicals in short all thing manufactured will be touched by nano revolution.

MEMS and nano fabrication has a lot of disruptive potential too.

Nano Technology and Health care
Natural bone surface is a nano-surface, Tissue engineering is more effective with nano-technology.

Integrated drug delivery can change the fundamentals of medical science: Cancer can be detected at very early stage and cured early. A glucose sensor and insulin delivery system could manage a diabetics insulin levels automatically.

Magnetic nano-particles along with cunning use of magnetic field can be used as localization tool that can bring down side effects significantly.

Nano technologies impact on social engineering, governance
Nano membranes has huge potential for drinking water purification. In the future, it will be possible to filter out harmful viruses like polio virus using a nano-filter. This has huge implications in terms of water security.

Certain disabilities like blindness and deafness can be overcome using bio-chip implants. There was even a video of Parkinson disease patient implanted with bio-chip while awake, and instantly gaining motor skills.

Nano technology can be used in pollution control. Even heavy metals could be filtered out!

Counter terrorism, bio-warfare weapon detection, carbon nano-fibers based radars can help stealth and counter stealth efforts. Similarly smart carbon dust could help survive a nuclear attack.
Nano technology and energy security
Energy security is one very promising area where nano-tech is on the verge of playing a crucial role. Firstly, the renewable energy solar cells can be made more efficient, and cheaper with nano-materials. Fuel cells is another very promising area.

At personal level power generating dress is possible with TiO2 coating on the dress. Similarly rechargeable batteries are set to see revolutionary high performance.

Lighting applications of nano-materials could save upto 10 percent of energy.

Nano technology Startrek Sci-Fi reality culture
The following stuck me as straight out of Sci-Fi:
Bio-chip implant, molecular robots that will co-operate to seek and destroy viruses within the body( a futuristic video clip was shown to this effect), cheaper faster space travel.
Life span increase with Artery cleaning and such exotic medical applications. Molecular level self replicating bionic ‘bots.

Dr Sivathanu Pillai further outlined that more than 2 million knowledge workers are needed for nano-tech. He further lamented that while papers are getting published, conferences are held, there is no concerted effort towards global nano-technology leadership. On the industry side for instance, DRDO is forced to get into manufacturing certain materials, whereas the industry could do it and re-purpose the same things for consumer and medical applications. The industry is yet to wake up and invest in a big way. The academic is not fully ready yet. A mission mode approach is to be put in place with a full reputed mission director.

We better wake up to this nano-revolution lest we miss it just like we missed the industrial revolution.

Sundararajan – Director ARCI, Dr Naoki Ikezawa – Chief Industry Specialist Nomura Research Institute, V Aiyagiri Rao Adviser DST, Bill Dobson – Director Ontario Industrial Research Assistance Program, A Nagarajan IAS, Princiapl Sec Planning and Development TN Govt, Anjan Das, Head Technology, IPR, TDC’s CII presented at the inaugural session. This post has already overshot its length to include them here.

Overall it was very educative and inspiring!


About labsji

I blog, Therefore I exist ! Funny things are funny to me. Cool things are cool to me. Innovations tick me. I attempt spirituality religiously :)
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2 Responses to Nano Technology Conclave: Wake up to Nano-revolution: Dr Sivatanu Pillai Keynote

  1. Feanor says:

    Kulls: interesting summary. I can sympathise with the DRDO man’s complaint about private industry not getting into commodifying the R&D. I recall our man Murali Menon of Met fame who told me that years before composite technology was adopted for the nose cone of the NASA space shuttle, similar work had already been done in India. It was not industrialised and the techniques weren’t patented, he said, so a lucrative source of income was lost. Hopefully with such visibility (Nomura is no small name) there will be more uptake and cross-fertilisation of ideas and inputs between research and industry in desh.

  2. labsji says:

    Dear Feanor,
    There is a sea change in the attitude of the government regarding this. They are very serious about being a good facilitator. And they are backing up the talk with the walk: They are telling the Industry, you put one dollar into research, we will put 10 dollar into it to enhance it further and everyone wins. Dr Aiyagiri Rao Adviser DST went to the extent to say that, money is not a problem at all. “Show me scientist with good publications, tell us what you wish to do, and walk away with money!” is what he said on stage. It is true, based on my funding for my prototype development funding experience.

    There are serious money available as grant in the early stage( upto Rs 50 Lakhs as 90% grant) and upto Rs 5Cr as grant + loan in the next stage. Now the biggest problem is getting the talent and retaining them.

    The theme that pioneering work has happened in India but not brought to light or not applied to our benefit is a common theme in the hallway discussions as well.

    And well, Nomura team was pretty serious in the nano Initiatives in India[they will soon be setting up shop in India]. Naoki Ikezawa san was outlining methods of tracking the trends with patent heatmaps[Illustrated with Fullerene patents]. Advising all the stakeholders with accurate information and forecast is one handle to mission management. And such mission management techniques is what is needed to eliminate gaps between pioneering research work and marketplace.

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