Bangalore: India is hoping nanotechnology could provide a new thrust to its booming economy and to become a world leader in a market expected to be worth one-trillion dollars by 2015, officials say.
Bangalore, which is also considered as India’s science and information-technology capital, is at the forefront of a five-year initiative designed to help India become a global nanotechnology hub, using the country’s vast scientific pool and low costs.
“Nano is the boom science of the 21st century,” said M.N. Vidyashankar, who oversees technology industries in Karnataka.
“It will become the key emerging technology in the 21st century,” he said. The government has said it plans to spend $254 million (Rs999 crore) to engineer applications using nanotechnology, which scientists say will create lighter, stronger, cleaner and cheaper materials.
“The talk of the day is nanotechnology with its wide applications,” said T.K. Bhaumik, chief economist, Reliance Industries. “We’re looking at it,the company is interested in any upcoming opportunity and nanotech is one of them,” he said.
Scientists caution the development period could be prolonged. “It’s easy to spot the commercial potential of a research finding in nanotechnology, but the time to market is very long,” said Anthony K. Cheetham, an expert at the materials science department at Britain’s Cambridge University.
But angel investors -- affluent individuals who fund start-ups -- pledged capital to six promising business projects at a Bangalore conference, informed Vidyashankar.
The worldwide market for nanotech-engineered consumer goods -- from cosmetics and sporting goods to consumer electronics -- is forecast to grow to $1 trillion by 2015 from an annual $15 billion now, he said.
Already, nanotechnology has given the world materials used to make tennis balls that last longer, rackets that are stronger, golf balls that fly straighter and car wax that gives greater shine, says the US-based National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN).
The Indian Institute of Science and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore are setting up the first of three national nanotechnology institutes on a sprawling campus.
And about 60 scientific institutions will help build “nano clusters” nationwide to develop applications for industrial products, agriculture, healthcare and drinking water, said Thirumalachari Ramasami, secretary, department of science and technology.
“What nanotechnology has done is to create a new excitement in the scientific world. It has captured the imagination of a generation of scientists,” said C.N.R. Rao, India’s foremost expert in the field.
Nanotechnology could lead to the creation of materials with 10 times the strength of steel and only a fraction in weight, or shrink all the information available in India’s libraries into a device the size of a sugar cube.
It can be used to treat diseases by sending tiny robots into human bodies, said Rao, who heads the prime minister’s scientific advisory panel and will guide the five-year nanotech mission.
“Nanotechnology will have as much impact on our lives as transistors and chips. It’s extremely important to the economy of our country and has the capacity to create new, affordable products that will dramatically improve performance,” said Vidyashankar.