Norway to the future
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
A warm welcome to Norway's new nanotech lab!
Today is the official opening of the Microtechnology Research Laboratory (MRL) in Oslo. The lab is a SINTEF-backed project located in Gaustadbekkdalen in Oslo, and part of the Oslo Technopole umbrella organization. While the name says 'micro', the facilities are equipped to do nanoscale research as well.

The project is about two years after schedule, as the construction of the building ran into problems caused by the clay-rich ground on the site. The lab building and installed equipment is one of the biggest investments into research in Norwegian history, totalling an estimated 250MNOK (~30MEUR). An additional 20 to 30 MNOK has been spent to minimize the vibrations in the building, an essential factor when doing research at very small objects. It is the first building in Norway dedicated solely to micro- and nanoscale research.

The working areas of the centre will include:Combining resources and researchers from SINTEF, the University of Oslo, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the University Hospital of Oslo (Rikshospitalet), the goal is to encourage and facilitate technology innovation by bringing together production of microtechnology and nanotechnology research in one place. 70% of the projects planned are Norwegian-initiated, says project manager Anders Hanneborg to NRK P2 today. Much of the financing is based on private capital, Hanneborg states, but it is hoped that breakthroughs can be applied to less profit-hungry fields as well. Some projects are underway in the micro-sensor field, both implanted insulin-sensors for diabetics patients and CO2 sensors for cars and -- hopefully -- children's classrooms are being developed. To a layman like me, the sensor technology seems similar to active RFID chips, the microsystems containing both a sensor and a chip to store and relay information from the sensor to a wireless scanner.

The centre is also part of the FUNMAT project (National Consortium for Research within Functional Materials and Nanotechnology). The FUNMAT consortium has been operating since 2002, and has helped Norwegian hitech-companies to several commercialized technologies. The consortiums goal is research on materials for sustainable energy production and environmental technology, nanotechnology and biomaterials. This is in line with the EU's 6th Framework Programme for Research and Development (6FWP) on materials technology, an important driver for developments of new technologies.

These are good news, as Norway has been lagging behind its neighbours in nanotech investments the last years. If you are interested in what happens in and around Norway, Nanoforum has a document giving a very good overview (PDF-en) of the status of Scandinavian nanotech research from 2003.

Some related articles (in Norwegian):

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