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Nanotechnology: Research

Volume 477: debated on Friday 13 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what research his Department is funding into developments in nanotechnology; and if he will make a statement. (209217)

The Research Councils support research and related training in nanotechnology. For example, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has spent over £132 million since 2003 on nanotechnology, and is currently investing about £40 million per annum in research grants and supporting 40 new PhD studentships per annum in the area.

A new £50 million cross-Council programme covering NanoScience through Engineering to Application was announced in December 2007 as one of six strategic priorities over the CSR period (2008-09 to 2010-11). From this, £6.5 million has been committed to explore new methods of harvesting solar energy, for example by developing new types of solar cells.

In addition, the Technology Strategy Board (an Executive NDPB of DIUS) currently provides funding of £19.5 million to projects at the nanoscale and a further £15 million on microscale engineering projects incorporating elements of nanotechnology. The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), established in 2007, works with the network of KTNs funded by the Technology Strategy Board and has a role in coordinating the UK network of 23 Micro-Nano Technology (MNT) Centres, including two centres offering services on the characterisation of micro and nano-scale materials. £54 million has been provided to establish and maintain the MNT centres, jointly funded with the regional development agencies and devolved Administrations.

In April this year the National Measurement System (NMS) Unit in DIUS approved several new projects to be delivered within the NMS Chemical and Biological Metrology Programme. Two thirds of the work, worth more than £5 million over three years, addresses the field of nanotechnology. The projects aim to develop measurement standards and will be led by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). NPL will involve several partners in the research.