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Government raises nano-tech funding
By Jia Hepeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-06-10 06:12

The Chinese Government is to massively increase investment in nanotechnologies for application in the manufacturing and medical industries.

The pledge was made by Vice-Minister for Science and Technology Cheng Jinpei yesterday at the opening of the China International Conference on Nanoscience and Technology (China NANO 2005) in Beijing. The event, sponsored by the National Centre for Nanoscience and Naotechnology, is due to finish on Saturday.

Cheng did not reveal specific investment figures.

Jiang Lei, chairman and chief scientist of the Nanotechnology subcommittee of the high-tech 863 Programme operated under the Ministry of Science and Technology told China Daily that investment in the next five year plan (2006-10) will be several times the 210 million yuan (US$25.36 million) invested by the ministry between 2001 and 2005.

Nanotechnology relates to research into the nature and behaviour of materials at between 1 and 100 nanometres - there are 1 billion nometres to the metre and a protein molecule is typically about 100 nometres across.

At the nometre level, physical and chemical materials can take on dramatic new properties.

Nanotechnology has important applications in industry by making manufacturing more accurate and can also play an important role in making drugs more effective.

According to Bai Chunli, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, State investment in nanotechnology is to be increased because Chinese scientists have already established themselves in the field.

Bai estimated that between 2000 and 2004 total government funding for nanotechnologies in China reached US$230 million.

Although great progress has been made, Bai said, the industrialization of China's nanotechnologies has lagged far behind the developed world.

In 2003, despite only US scientists publishing more research papers on the subject, 19 countries were ahead of China in patenting nanotechnologies.

Jiang said that in order to fuel the industrialization and application of nanotechnologies, the Ministry of Science and Technology will focus its investment on six fields including micro-electronics, medical materials and energy projects.

East China's Zhejiang Province, Zhejiang University and the US-based California Nanosystems Institute are reportedly sponsoring a Sino-American institute specializing in nano-related technology.

The institute, with an investment of 250 million yuan (US$30.1 million), will be set up in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province.

(China Daily 06/10/2005 page2)

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