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What is a Nanotechnology Institute?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Around the world, almost every industrialized nation has a nanotechnology institute. The primary goal of these institutions is to provide the resources required to develop and promote nanotechnology. These institutions are research-focused, with funding from a range of public and private sources.

There are three kinds of staff in a nanotechnology institute: teaching, support staff, and research. Teaching roles vary by institute, with some forming close ties to local universities or colleges. In exchange for access to shared resources, some courses are taught by eminent researchers to students in graduate level nanotechnology programs. This type of reciprocal arrangement has benefits for both institutions, from both a financial and organizational standpoint.

Support staff are typically administrative staff, responsible for the management of the facility, accounting, human resources, and related services. Laboratory assistants, managers, and coordinators are also considered support staff, although they work closely with the researchers. The level of funding available for administrative staff is typically quite low in a nanotechnology institute. As a result, many administrative staff members function in multiple roles.

Researchers are the most important assets in a nanotechnology institute. Most institutes have a recruitment process to attract the top researchers to their institute. In addition to recruitment drives, positions are posted and qualified applicants are encouraged to apply. Nanotechnology is a very specialized field, resulting in a relatively small pool of potential researchers worldwide.

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To become a nanotechnology institute researcher, a minimum doctoral degree is required. Associate and assistant researchers can be doctoral candidates, who have completed a master's degree in nanotechnology. Academic credentials are evaluated, together with the list of published articles, seminars, and white papers on nanotechnology development.

Each year, the nanotechnology institute will host a series of lectures, seminars, and conferences. These events are held to encourage discourse among researchers, increase the profile of the institute internationally, and enhance the network of nanotechnology institutes. Conferences also provide opportunities for vendors and services firms to speak with members of the nanotechnology community about their new products, develop important business connections, and sell equipment.

In the next five to ten years, nanotechnology institutes are forecast to experience above average growth, as the technology moves from theoretical to commercial applications. There are issues surrounding disposal of nanotechnology, utilization of natural resources, and sharing of knowledge within the international community. Government agencies providing funding to specific research projects expect to have sole ownership of the work product. However, due to the small size of the research community and the collaborative nature of this type of work, assigning sole ownership rights can become quite complex.

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