[SAN JOSE] Nanotechnology research in Latin America has received a boost with the inauguration of the National Laboratory for Nanotechnology, Microsensors and Advanced Materials (Lanotec) in Costa Rica.
Lanotec will also have a teaching laboratory that will collaborate with other institutions on their academic programmes.
"Lanotec will be the focal point for major national and international projects," said physicist Jorge Andrés Diaz, leader of the initiative, during its inauguration ceremony on 31 August.
The laboratory will begin working on two projects. One will research, design and construct microsensors, a field of research in which Diaz was awarded Costa Rica's national science prize in 1999.
The other project will research and construct carbon nanotubules, small cylindrical structures used in the manufacture of advanced electronics materials. On this project, Lanotec will collaborate with the Costa Rican chemist Jeannette Benavides, who is director of the carbon nanotubules project at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre based in Maryland, United States.
"The development of nanotechnology is very important for the technological development of Costa Rica," says Benavides, who devised a method of nanotubule manufacture that reduced production costs from US$300 per gram to US$1 per gram.
The method will begin to be implemented at Lanotec shortly, and Benavides will also make joint investigations with the Costa Rican laboratory.
The construction of Lanotec and the purchase of necessary equipment were funded by the Costa Rica - United States of America Foundation for Cooperation, the Costa Rican Ministry of Science and Technology's 'incentive fund', and the Pro-Cenat Foundation.