Tag Archives: National Institute of Nanotechnology

Canada-Japan Nanotechnology Workshop at the University of Waterloo

Today (Nov. 21, 2011) and tomorrow (Nov. 22), the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) at the University of Waterloo is hosting a nanotechnology workshop celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Canada-Japan Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology. The Honourable Gary Goodyear Minister of State (Science and Technology) gave the opening remarks (from the Nov. 21, 2011 news release on the Industry Canada website),

“There are tremendous opportunities for international researchers and businesses to come to Canada and invest in research and development,” said Minister of State Goodyear. “This conference allows us to showcase opportunities in nanotechnology and promote stronger linkages with Canadian researchers and innovators. The relationship we are building will benefit the Canadian and Japanese economies.”

The conference drew a number of high-profile delegates, including His Excellency Kaoru Ishikawa, Ambassador of Japan to Canada and Mr. Yasuyoshi Kakita, Director of the Generic Research and Research Platform Division of Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

WIN’s workshop webpage offers more details about the Canada-Japan relationship and our mutual interest in nanotechnology,

Nanotechnology is identified in both countries as a priority area by the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Canada-Japan S&T Cooperation. Four major nanotechnology collaborations were recently identified by the Embassies of Japan and Canada for their on-going execution of annual workshops, proven mobility and exchange programs, research funding and number of projects initiated. These are: (in order of MOU signing).

– National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) & National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) – 2006
– NanoQuebec & Nagano Techno Foundation – 2009
– Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) & National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) – 2010
– McGill University & RIKEN – 2010

The Canada-Japan nanotechnology workshop is designed to bring Canadian and Japanese stakeholders together to highlight their success at a national level and for individual researcher teams to advance their collaborative projects. Scientists including Canadian Research Chairs in the field of nanotechnology, government representatives and administrators from leading universities and nanotechnology organizations will be on hand to discuss the future of nanotechnology and recommend paths ahead.

By coming together we will help define a nanotechnology road map for Canada and Japan cooperation that will identify future areas for research funding, commercialization and trade for our respective Governments and Embassies. [emphasis mine]

I’m not sure how they’re going to be able to define a nanotechnology road map for cooperation with Japan when there isn’t any kind of nanotechnology roadmap for Canada. You can check that out for yourself here.

I hope there will be more news from the workshop as it progresses.

Canada’s National Institute of Nanotechnology gets first Hitachi H-95000 microscope outside of Japan

Canada’s National Institute of Nanotechnology (NINT) has just opened a facility (which was mentioned as a future project in my July 20, 2009 posting) with three new Hitachi microscopes in a $15M funding partnership. From the July 13, 2011 article by Dave Cooper for the Edmonton Journal,

The Hitachi Electron Microscopy Products Centre [HEMiC; Note: This was formerly called the Hitachi Electron Microscopy Products Development Centre] at NINT opened Tuesday, a $15-million partnership between the federal and provincial governments and Hitachi, that marks the entry of Edmonton as the North American microscope leader.

One of the three new machines -the H-9500 environmental transmission electron microscope -is so new it is only the second in the world after one at a Toyota research centre in Japan.

“This technology suite (of three new microscopes) has enabled Alberta and Canada to establish a centre that will be the leading edge of nanotechnology research and development for many years to come,” Hidehito Obayashi, chairman of Hitachi High Technologies, said Tuesday.

I found some more information about the H-9500 microscope in this July 13, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

The Hitachi H-9500 Environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM) can study in-situ chemical reactions of samples in liquids and gases. It will offer a very low background pressure (in the 10-8 torr region) ensuring low sample contamination rate and low effect of background gases on the in-situ experiment. Its capabilities include the possibility to heat the sample to temperatures exceeding 1500° C while exposed to various gases or study liquid samples at temperatures exceeding 300° C. The analytical capabilities of the instrument include electron energy loss spectroscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry for chemical analysis. This instrument offers standard TEM imaging and diffraction capabilities allowing the investigation of sample structure and morphology.

As for the HEMiC facility (more from the news item on Nanowerk),

HEMiC will have two streams of activity: the provision of a wide range of electron microscopy services to industrial and academic clients; and a research collaboration between NINT and Hitachi researchers that will develop new electron microscope tools and techniques. The Centre will also be a Hitachi reference site, allowing Hitachi to showcase its latest microscopes, giving potential clients from North America an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with new instruments and techniques before buying.

I have mused on this before but I really do wonder what happens when there’s a scheduling conflict between research interests and commercial interests. In other words, what happens when you need to use the microscope for research purposes at the same time the sales people want to show it to potential customers? What is the protocol and who decides?

Alberta researchers at the National Institute of Nanotechnology create nano coating for stainless steel implants in bid to trick body’s immune system

A research team in Alberta has found a way to coat stainless steel with glass silica and carbohydrates so the metal (already in general use) can be more effective in implanted biomedical devices. From the April 27, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

Implanted biomedical devices, such as cardiac stents, are implanted in over 2 million people every year, with the majority made from stainless steel. Stainless steel has many benefits – strength, generally stability, and the ability to maintain the required shape long after it has been implanted. But, it can also cause severe problems, including blood clotting if implanted in an artery, or an allergenic response due to release of metal ions such as nickel ions.

This particular initiative, devising a means to trick the body’s immune system into better acceptance of implants, is part of a larger project where the goal is,

… to allow cross-blood type organ transplants, meaning that blood types would not necessarily need to be matched between donor and recipient when an organ becomes available for transplantation.

In the meantime, the team has found a means that they hope will make the stainless steel implants easier for the immune system to accept,

… sophisticated carbohydrate (sugar) molecules needed to be attached to the stainless steel surface to bring about the necessary interaction with the body’s immune system. Its inherent stainless characteristic makes stainless steel a difficult material to augment with new functions, particularly with the controlled and close-to-perfect coverage needed for biomedical implants. The Edmonton-based team found that by first coating the surface of the stainless steel with a very thin layer (60 atoms deep) of glass silica using a technique available at the National Institute for Nanotechnology, called Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), they could overcome the inherent non-reactivity of the stainless steel. The silica provide a well-defined “chemical handle” through which the carbohydrate molecules, prepared in the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Carbohydrate Science, could be attached. Once the stainless steel had been controlled, the researchers demonstrated that the carbohydrate molecules covered the stainless steel in a highly controlled way, and in the correct orientation to interact with the immune system.

In trying to find out a little more about this project, I found a presentation* from 2008 (or earlier) made by Todd Lowary, Jillian Buriak, and Lori West, presumably for investment purposes, about another initiative associated with this project titled, Infant Heart Transplants and Nanotechnology. Here’s the hypothesis from slide 3 of the presentation,

Hypothesis: Exposing a newborn to ABO antigens attached to a nanoparticle or stent will induce tolerance during immune development and in turn allow transplants across the blood-group barrier.

Since a baby’s immune system isn’t fully developed at birth, exposing a child in need of a cardiac transplant to a suitably nanoparticle-coated stent would theoretically allow the child to develop tolerance for blood group types other than its own thereby allowing a cross-blood type organ transplant. Towards the end of the presentation (which isn’t dated), they have a timeline which includes filing for various patents and a proposed date of 2013 for human clinical trials.

*The presentation is on the Alberta Centre for Advanced Microsystems and Nanotechnology Products (ACAMP). According to their About page,

ACAMP (Alberta Centre for Advanced MNT Products) is a not for profit organization that provides specialized services to micro nano technology clients.

ACAMP’s services encompass key areas identified as critical for the commercialization of MNT products – Marketing & Business Development, Product Development, Packaging and Assembly, Test and Characterization.

That’s it for today.

ETA July 4, 2011: There’s a May 16, 2011 news item by Cameron Chai on Azonano about this team which offers additional information.

Arts scholar in residence at National Institute of Technology: Heather Graves

Early in the new year, the University of Alberta announced the appointment of its first Scholar in Residence for Arts in Nanotechnology, Heather Graves (mentioned in my Jan. 19, 2011 posting). I contacted Dr. Graves for an interview which she very kindly gave. Before proceeding here’s a little bit of biographical information from the WRS webpage) about her [ETA Mar.11.11: photo and information about WRS webpage added],

Heather Graves is an Associate Professor of Writing Studies and the Department English and Film Studies. She is the author of Rhetoric in(to) Science: Style as Invention in Inquiry (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2005); co-editor with Roger Graves of Writing Centres, Writing Seminars, Writing Culture: Teaching Writing in Anglo-Canadian Universities (Winnipeg: Inkshed Publications, 2006) and Inkshed: Newsletter of the Canadian Assoication for the Study of Language and Learning; and co-author of the Canadian Edition of The Brief Penguin Handbook (Pearson/Longman, 2007) and A Strategic Guide to Technical Communication (Peterborough: Broadview, 2007). …

As co-president of the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing (CASDW)/ L’Association canadienne de rédactologie (ACR) (formerly the Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (CATTW)/ L’Association canadienne de professeurs de rédaction technique and scientific (ACPRTS), she has served as program chair of the annual conference held at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Professor Heather Graves, Canada's new Arts Scholar in Residence in Nanotechnology (photo from WRS website)

Heather will be working with scientists at the National Institute of Nanotechnology (NINT) which is located in Edmonton at the University of Alberta. The interview starts here:

(a) I was thrilled to see that a ‘scholar in residence for arts research in nanotechnology’. How do you feel about the appointment?

It’s a real opportunity to be invited into a community of practicing scientists. A number of them have been quite generous with their time to help me with their project. I have worked with scientists before but this is the first time that the invitation came, basically, from them, rather than me inviting myself in. It is wonderful to learn new things and to extend my understanding of science and how science people use rhetoric and writing in their work and professional lives.

(b) I believe this is the first such appointment in Canada, is that right? Why was the position created?

I am not aware of any other such appointments (there is only one National Institute in Canada, but the various centres for nanotechnology being built at various Canadian universities could also follow suit). I think the position was created because someone at NINT wished to develop closer links between Arts and Science, specifically nanoscience/technology. The hope is that greater knowledge of what scientists are doing with their research in nanotechnology will get a bit more publicity through this position (it will get more play on campus for sure, and likely a bit more exposure to the broader public). The position is sponsored by the Vice President of Research here at U of A but I’m not exactly clear on where the money came from (to buy out my teaching for this term, so give me some development money with which I am employing a Graduate Research Assistant, and a modest travel budget to present a conference paper or two). I expect the university and the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) are sharing the costs.

(c) What will you be doing as a ‘scholar in residence for arts research in nanotechnology’? (i. e., Are there deliverables for this project and what might they be?)

I am conducting a research project on language and writing in the work of scientists doing research in nanotechnology/nanoscience. There are several strands to the project: interviews with scientists about their research and about how they use writing in their professional work and how they teach writing to the graduate students who work with them; attending meetings between supervisors and their graduate students as they meet regularly to talk about their progress on individual experimental work; attending seminars by visiting researchers about their recent work; and analyzing drafts of research reports to identify the discursive conventions of the discipline, including the features of argument structure. My focus is on how scientists use language and writing to communicate about their research; how they understand the process of drafting a convincing argument for their interpretations of the research findings, and how they structure that argument; and how newcomers to the field acculturate into the norms and conventions of the discourse in this field. The discourse conventions of nanotechnology (as an emerging discipline) are still being negotiated: they evolve out of the collaborative efforts of the interdisciplinary scientists who work together on various projects, as well as between writers and editors for scholarly journals in nanotechnology. I’m interested in documenting, as far as possible, some of this negotiation from the scientists’ perspectives and from studies of their published (and in some cases draft) reports of research. This study also analyses the linguistic constructions that the scientists use to conceptualize and communicate the scientific phenomena that they are studying. Research on the nanoscale is mediated by both technology and language, making it a fascinating site for exploring how these mediations are translated into knowledge and eventually commercial products. I expect that these different strands of the project will result in a series of conference papers and then several academic articles or even a book-length manuscript on rhetoric and nanotechnology. I also expect that some of these insights will be valuable in writing textbooks on writing in disciplines other than Arts and Humanities. I may also write some articles on nanotechnology for more popular audiences.

(d) What aspects of your previous work are you bringing to this position (e.g., rhetorical function of visuals in science research and/or model of argumentation in scientific discourse)?

Much all the work that I’ve done earlier on rhetoric of science and on argument in the disciplines is relevant to this project. For example, many discussions of scientific phenomena take place based on visuals, so a better understanding of relationship between the visuals and their rhetorical purpose is crucial to understanding the processes of knowledge creation engaged in by scientists. The visuals in science generally function as evidence supporting the claims made for new knowledge in the arguments constructed in oral presentations of work as well as in journal publications. These aspects tie in to my long-standing interest in argument in the disciplines and especially science-related disciplines. Since I also teach writing to first year science majors and to graduate students in science disciplines, this study will enable me to develop new and better teaching materials for these audiences of learners. So on a practical level this research project could well translate eventually into better instructional material for writers in science and better writers of scientific discourse in Canada.

(e) Do you have colleagues, i.e. other ‘scholars in residence for arts research in nanotechnology’, internationally and who might they be? In other words, how does this position fit within the international scene?

I am not aware of any other “scholars in residence for arts research in nanotechnology” elsewhere at this point. Please let me know if you encounter any more! I am working pretty much in isolation; of course it would be great to have colleagues to talk to who are in similar circumstances but when you are carving your own path it’s also freeing, in a way, because there is no standard procedure or approach. You can invent your project and its execution any way you want. This is generally how I have proceeded in the past because my area of interest (the study of the language and rhetoric/writing of working scientists) was sparsely populated by other scholars, especially from 1995 to the early 2000s. In the last five years or so, however, I have met a number of other rhetoric of science and writing in science scholars who are addressing some of the same issues.

Beyond the “Scholar in Residence . . .” title, however, I know there is significant interest in nanoscience and nanotechnology from many different types of people from both academic and more popular perspectives, but this collaboration between the University of Alberta and the National Institute for Nanotechnology does seem like a brand new idea. It certainly encourages interaction between two areas that don’t generally mix professionally, and it will be interesting to see what comes of this interaction in the long term, since the “Scholar in Residence for Arts Research in Nanotechnology” pilot project is slated to run for two more years after me and perhaps to be made permanent if it is deemed a success. I look forward to also hearing about subsequent research projects that follow mine. Perhaps other Centres for Nanotechnology across Canada and around the world might follow the lead here by University of Alberta and NINT. I certainly hope so.

(f) Is there anything you’d like to add?

I think many people have little idea about what is required to do this kind of research project successfully at least from the perspective of the number of hours it takes. You do have to commit significant numbers regularly over a period of time to get to know anyone in the community and to gain a reasonable level of understanding of the community. This means just hanging out for several hours a day as often as possible and collecting information as you hang out. The more information you collect the better you understand your area of study and the more data you have to work with, but processing all of this information also becomes a huge task. For example, sifting through interviews and research presentations and meeting transcripts takes a lot of time and energy. Transcribing digital recordings of key interchanges also takes time (although voice recognition software has improved immensely in the last few years, one still can’t devote one-third of a half-hour interview with a busy person to getting the technology up to speed). What I’m trying to say is that you cannot do this kind of research while also teaching a full load of classes; this type of research is only practical and possible if you have the luxury of time, which is what a program such as the Scholar in Residence for Arts Research in Nanotechnology provides. More people might conduct this kind of research if such a program were more widely available but in the absence of this type of support other types of less time-intensive research has to be undertaken, changing the types of research questions that you can ask and re-directing to somewhere else the advance of knowledge from this area.

Thank you Heather. I look forward to hearing and reading more about your work as the project progresses. I wish you the best of luck with it.

Alberta’s Let’s Talk Nanoscience followup

Here’s a followup to the Feb.25, 2011 Let’s Talk Nanoscience event (mentioned in my Jan. 12, 2011 posting), from the Ryan Heise article on the University of Alberta Engineering Dept.’s webpage,

About 170 high school students from around Edmonton learned about nanotechnology and leading-edge research during the inaugural Let’s Talk NanoScience event at the U of A.

The event was put on by the Let’s Talk Science U of A chapter and the U of A Nanotechnology Group [Let’s Talk Science website], with support from the Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science, and the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT).

This year, the group decided to focus on individual institution’s strong points. For the U of A, that means being a leading centre for nanotechnology research.

Electrical and computer engineering PhD student Steven Jim [emphasis mine] from the Nanotechnology Group says raising awareness is especially important when funding is coming from the public.

“As scientists and researchers, we’re basically funded by the government—by taxpayers. So helping the public know what we’re doing is important,” Jim said.  [emphasis mine] “It’s something that’s often forgotten when you’re spending your life in a lab.”

The day was kicked off with two lectures. The first from Nils Petersen, director general of NINT [National Institute of Nanotechnology], explored why nanotechnology will be increasingly important. Petersen made three main points: it’s going to be everywhere, it’s going to be transformative within the next 50 years, and it’s going to be here forever. [emphasis mine] He encouraged the students to be conscious of how nanotechnology might affect them.

The second lecture by Jillian Buriak, a senior research officer with NINT, gave an overview of just what nanotechnology is. She engaged the students by hammering home just how small-scale nanotechnology is, as well as describing some of the ground breaking processes that are changing how people look at science and engineering.

After that, the students broke into groups for lab tours and smaller sessions with graduate students where they produced gold nano-particles.

Mr. Jim, I quite agree with you. As for Nils Petersen, I found that bit about nanotechnology “… being here forever” an odd statement and would have liked to have heard it in context. As for the other points, I understand that nanotechnology-enabled products are going to be everywhere (those products are already quite pervasive).  I also understand its “transformative” aspects in the same way I understand electricity’s transformative aspects. But nanotechnology will be here forever? I am intrigued.

NINT/University of Alberta team in Guinness Book of World Records

A tungsten needle that’s one atom thick got a team of researchers led by Dr. Robert Wolkow, Canada’s National Institute of Nanotechnology (NINT) Principal Investigator and University of Alberta Physics Professor, Dr. Jason Pitters, Research Council Officer at NINT and Dr. Mohamed Rezeq, formerly of NINT and currently at the Institute of Materials Research & Engineering in Singapore into the Guinness Book of World Records. From the March 1, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

A very tiny, very sharp object has put Canadian researchers at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) and University of Alberta into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Only one atom at its end point, the tip used in electron microscopes is the sharpest man-made object. It is made of Tungsten and fabricated using a patented controlled etching method. It is currently being evaluated for its commercial potential.

“We did not start out to set a world record; we were trying to make a better tool for our research.” Team leader Robert Wolkow said in reaction to the record “Having a world record is a fun achievement, but we are really interested in commercializing this product.”

The needle was first created in 2006. From the Mar. 2, 2011 news article by Mariam Ibrahim in The Edmonton Journal [this excerpt is not from the online version of the article],

Four years ago, Wolkow and his research team created the tiny microscope tip out of tungsten to be used for a scanned probe microscope, which operates similar to the way a record player needle feels bumps and grooves that are imprinted on a record. The extremely sharp point of the tungsten tip can be moved around a surface to feel out the minuscule grooves and bumps, a task that proved difficult and unreliable before his team’s invention, said Wolkow, who is also a physics professor at the University of Alberta.

The imaging gathered from the microscope tip can be mapped to provide scientists a more accurate image of what they’re studying.

The tip, which scientists continue to refine, was fashioned out of tungsten because of the material’s strength and durability. Since it was created, scientists have realized the tip can also be used to change the topography of a surface on an atomic scale, which could lead to developments in electronic devices such as computer processors, Wolkow said.

“We’re talking about the possibility of making computers that would consume about 1,000 times less energy than today’s computers,” he said.

“It’s really exciting.” Along the way, two new uses for the creation have emerged. The tip is an exquisite source for both ions and electrons and can be used in microscopes that operate using both types of particles, Wolkow said.

Bravo to Robert Wolkow, Jason Pitters, Mohamed Rezeq and NINT!

Interview with Vive Nano’s CTO, Darren Anderson, and CEO Keith Thomas

I first mentioned the Canadian company, Vive Nano, in my Nov. 9, 2009 posting when it received $3.8M from the Ontario government through that province’s Innovation Demonstration Fund. They’ve been mentioned here since (June 25, 2010 posting about their Frost & Sullivan Technology Innovation Award and Oct. 11, 2010 posting about their marketing efforts in India) and, after my good intentions ran out, I finally got a chance to interview Darren Anderson, Vive Nano’s  Chief Technology Officer and (ETA Mar.1.11) Keith Thomas, President and Chief Executive Officer.

(a) Can you tell me a little bit about why the company is called Vive Nano and give me a brief company history, e.g. was it a spin-off from a university; how many founders are there; how did you get to know each other, etc.?

The company was founded by 6 scientists at the University of Toronto.  The scientists had been working together for years and a number had participated in a course called Entrepreneurship 101, which is run by an Ontario-funded organization called MaRS.  [You can find MaRS here.] We decided to pursue a non-traditional route, instead of joining academia or a research lab – and we have not looked back since.  We spun the company out of the university in 2006 and it really got going in 2007 when the full management team joined and outside investment was brought in.

We chose the name Vive Nano because we felt it would work well across cultures.  When we heard the word vive we thought of life; we felt that it had a strong, vibrant and forward thinking feel.   And we felt that it mirrored our company values:  smart, open and responsible.  We strive to be smart in how we execute our work, open to new ideas and responsible in the application of what we do for the greater good.

(b) The Vive Nano website states that your main focus is developing products for the ‘catalyst’ and ‘crop protection’ industries. Could you give me a little more detail about that? For example, I associate crop protection with pesticides, is that what you mean?

A large part of our work is on improved crop protection formulations that can positively impact crop yields and lower environmental impact.  We work with bioinert and biodegradable polymers in place of the solvents currently used to deliver crop protection products.  We are developing products, including pesticides that have the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of chemicals used by farmers, leading to cleaner air, cleaner soil and cleaner water.  We’re enthusiastic about working in crop protection because the safety standards are very stringent and we’re working with partners with tremendous resources and commitment to ensuring product safety.  Vive Nano also works with catalysts, specifically on materials that help to improve the air we breathe and water we drink.

For our efforts, Vive Nano has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 10 companies, as a leading green technology company by Deloitte, as one of the 2009 Green 15™, and by Canadian Business magazine as the winner of Canada’s Clean15 competition.  In addition, Vive Nano has received other market recognition including:

·       Frost & Sullivan North American Technology of the Year Award – 2010
·       Next 10 Emerging Cleantech Leaders Award Winner – 2009
·       Ontario Premier’s Cleantech Mission to India

(c)  ‘Partnering on projects’ is also mentioned on the website. Could you explain how what you mean by partnering and what kinds of projects and products you have or are currently partnering on?

Vive Nano partners with a range of companies, from small Ontario businesses to Fortune 500 firms.  We develop the products in conjunction with our partners, who provide project goals and market access.  We are not able to talk about most of our projects, but one of our key projects is to reduce the use of solvents in delivering crop protection products so that the products are more environmentally friendly.  We also have smaller projects to develop advanced glass coatings and to clean water.

(d) The website features a description of Vive Nano Product Stewardship where you state: “… prioritization process to ensure product information for products with known toxic effects, physical hazards or potential consumer exposure is provided to our stakeholders in a timely manner.” Could you give some examples of you how provide this information since you sell products such as nano silver, nano cerium oxide, nano zinc oxide, and nano magnetite, all of which, by the way, are subject to a ‘call for information regarding testing procedures’ by the State of California’s Dept. of Toxic Substances Control.

We are members of Responsible Care® and are committed communicating information about our materials to all of our stakeholders, including our employees, our customers, our collaborators and the general public.   We make Product Stewardship Sheets for our materials available, which provide a product description, the chemical identity, uses, and any known health or environmental effects or potential for exposure, as well as risk management information.

We recognize that the state of knowledge relating to health and environmental effects of nanotechnology is in its infancy and as a result we are taking a conservative approach with respect to the design and manufacture of our materials. We continually monitor legislative requirements regarding nanomaterials and aim to exceed all current guidelines with respect to occupational health and waste streams, including water and air emissions.  Much of the concern surrounding exposure to nanomaterials is regarding aerosols, thus we endeavour to work with our materials in liquid form whenever possible.

As I mentioned at the start, we want to be responsible in what we do for the greater good.  We are working with the Canadian National Institute of Nanotechnology in Alberta on a federally funded multi-million dollar project to ensure that all of our products we develop are safe throughout their product lifetime.  We are also participating in a McGill University study to look at product safety.

I’m going to shift focus with these next questions:

(e) Vive Nano was featured in an Oct. 27, 2010 guest column written by Hari Venkatacharya on the subject of Canadian technology firms and the Indian market. Is this involvement part of a larger strategic focus on international markets and/or where there specific reasons for focusing on the Indian market?

Cleantech is global, by nature.  For several years, we have been working internationally, though mostly focused on developed economies.  A few years ago, when developed economies were having issues with the recession, we made a strategic decision to work with a key developing economy and chose India.  There was a sound business case and good demand for our products.  We also were able to successfully work with Hari to access top level decision makers in that market.

(f) What have you learned from your work in the Indian market?

First, focus is important.  India is too vast, so we don’t have an India strategy, but rather a Maharashtra strategy.  Second, cost is important.  India really forced us to drive down our costs – the economics in India are based on volume, not margin.

We also found it important to put things in writing – as prep or follow-up to phone calls, as we had some significant noise issues, especially with poor quality phone lines.  We had a number of times where we would speak to someone on their cellphone in traffic and have difficulty picking out enough words to understand what they meant.

Lastly, we found we needed to be there, in almost constant contact in person.  We found that progress came in waves.  If you were about to go to India, were there, or had just left, there was progress; otherwise other priorities came to our customers’ minds.  We were just one of probably dozens of opportunities from Germany, France, and the US that kept coming to them.  SO we needed to go back.  And back.

(g) What kind of a market (or markets) is there for your products in Canada?

As I mentioned, a lot of our work is on making better crop protection products.  These will support the $150 billion Canadian agriculture industry, which employs one out of every seven Canadians.  We anticipate that they will result in significant environmental and waste reduction benefits.  We are also working on coatings to improve the energy efficiency of glass and improved catalysts can potentially deliver major advances in water and air purification. Canada has an environmentally-aware population and a desire to be a leader in clean technologies, so we think it’s a great place to be.

(h) Are you working on any new products or partnerships that you can discuss at this point?

One thing that we are very excited about is our anti-reflective glass coating.  It can improve light transmission noticeably.  It is a very different application from our crop protection work, but uses the same underlying technology.

(i) Is there anything you’d like to add?

Nothing I can think of.

I would like to add just a bit more about Darren Anderson. From Vive Nano’s Management Team page,

Darren Anderson, Ph.D. was the founding President of Vive Nano. Dr. Anderson currently oversees all technical direction at the company, including product development, strategic direction, and intellectual property. He is the author of 4 issued patents, 24 pending applications, 10 refereed papers, and over 40 conference presentations and publications. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Toronto as an NSERC Doctoral Fellow.

Plus, I want to say Thank You for taking the time to answer my questions in detail that I much appreciate. I look forward to hearing more about Vive Nano in general, about the new glass coating product, and about the product safety projects with Canada’s National Institute of Nanotechnology and with the researchers at McGill soon.

ETA Feb.28.11: I understand from Darren Anderson that Keith Thomas, Vive Nano’s President and CEO answered some of the questions. So, thank you to Keith Thomas. Here’s his biography from Vive Nano’s Management Team web page,

Keith Thomas is a proven entrepreneur and was most recently CEO of Vector Innovations, which was backed by a number of well regarded venture firms and successfully exited. He has led a number of large-scale projects, restructuring companies in 3 countries at New York-based Tandon Capital, managing strategy and operations projects at Booz Allen & Hamilton and completing corporate finance transactions at Citibank in the US and Europe. He is a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University, an M.A. in Economics and a B.A.Sc. in Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Cleaning dirty water

Two news items about cleaning dirty water and the Canadian nanotech scene in two days! First, I got news of a Canada-China-India-Israel Roundtable on Sustainable Water Management via Nano- and Emerging Technologies held February 22-23, 2011 in Edmonton, Alberta. [Note: The information about the participant countries is directly from the ISTP website and there is no mention of the US as there is in the following article. This may be due to a late entrance to the event.] From the Feb. 22, 2011 article by Dave Cooper in the Vancouver Sun,

Canada joined hands with four other nations Tuesday in a partnership aimed at harnessing the potential of nanotechnology to improving the world’s water supply.

“Applying advanced technology to the problems of water is a serious issue. This is not a sideshow, it is a fundamental issue,” said Henri Rothschild, CEO of federally backed International Science and Technology Partnerships (ISTP) Canada.

The goal of the participants from Canada, the U.S. [?], China, India and Israel is to discuss “the real opportunities to address these challenges by pooling resources and expertise,” he said, in a spectrum from drinking and waste water to desalinization.

… with plenty of local water research underway to deal with the oilsands, funded by industry and governments, the region is now internationally recognized for its water expertise. “There are a lot of scientists and engineers here who know the subject. It’s leading edge and dealing with some very hard issues,” Rothschild said. “With this roundtable, we are trying to break new ground and create something that takes it to another level, and have it based here in Canada. This is one model under discussion,” he added.

There’s more information about the event on the ISTP roundtable wepage and, for those who are curious about the ISTP itself, here’s a description from their Who We Are page,

STPCanada was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with the primary objective of strengthening Canada’s science and technology (S&T), business to business relations and ultimately overall economic, trade and political relations. ISTPCanada was selected by the Government of Canada, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, to deliver the India, China and Brazil elements of its International Science and Technology Partnerships Program (ISTPP). Reflecting that bilateral S&T agreements are already in place with India and China, funding for these two countries was provided to ISTPCanada in April 2007, with additional funding for Brazil expected in 2008/2009 on completion of a similar bilateral agreement.

I do see the flag for the State of California on the page but it’s  not mentioned as a member of the ISTP. Perhaps they haven’t had time to update the site or they’re not sure how to add the information given that the other members are countries. Also, Brazil which is a member of the ISTP was not at the roundtable.

Getting back to the water, I had no idea the Edmonton region was internationally recognized for its expertise in water.  Meanwhile on the other side of the country, researchers from McGill University have developed a new and inexpensive way to filter water in case of emergencies. From the Feb. 23, 2011 news release,

Disasters such as floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes often result in the spread of diseases like gastroenteritis, giardiasis and even cholera because of an immediate shortage of clean drinking water. Now, chemistry researchers at McGill University have taken a key step towards making a cheap, portable, paper-based filter coated with silver nanoparticles to be used in these emergency settings.

“Silver has been used to clean water for a very long time. The Greeks and Romans kept their water in silver jugs,” says Prof. Derek Gray, from McGill’s Department of Chemistry. But though silver is used to get rid of bacteria in a variety of settings, from bandages to antibacterial socks, no one has used it systematically to clean water before. “It’s because it seems too simple,” affirms Gray.

Prof. Gray’s team, which included graduate student Theresa Dankovich, coated thick (0.5mm) hand-sized sheets of an absorbent porous paper with silver nanoparticles and then poured live bacteria through it. “Viewed in an electron microscope, the paper looks as though there are silver polka dots all over,” says Dankovich, “and the neat thing is that the silver nanoparticles stay on the paper even when the contaminated water goes through.” The results were definitive. Even when the paper contains a small quantity of silver (5.9 mg of silver per dry gram of paper), the filter is able to kill nearly all the bacteria and produce water that meets the standards set by the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The filter is not envisaged as a routine water purification system, but as a way of providing rapid small-scale assistance in emergency settings. “It works well in the lab,” says Gray, “now we need to improve it and test it in the field.”

This story reminds me of an Aug. 18, 2010  news article by Lin Edwards on physorg.com about ‘nano’ tea bags (excerpted from the article),

Scientists in South Africa have come up with a novel way of purifying water on a small scale using a sachet rather like a tea bag, but instead of imparting flavor to the water, the bag absorbs toxins, filters out and kills bacteria, and cleans the water.

The bag, which fits into the neck of an ordinary water bottle, was developed by scientists at Stellenbosch University in South Africa to help communities with no water purification facilities to clean their water. The bags are made of inexpensive tea bag material but instead of containing tea they contain nano-scale antimicrobial fibers that filter out contaminants and microbes, and granules of activated carbon that kill the bacteria. The nano-fibers are about one hundredth the width of a human hair.

According to researcher Marelize Botes, one sachet can clean a liter of the dirtiest water to about the same water quality of bottled water. Once the bag has been used it is discarded and a new bag is fitted in the neck of the bottle. The discarded bags have no environmental impact as they disintegrate in only a few days and the materials are not toxic to humans.

It’s hard to tell how closely related the research and initiatives are despite the fact that they’re all talking about ‘dirty water’. What I mean is that the water being discussed in the Dave Cooper article is industrial water recycled from sewage and waste, while the McGill researchers and the South African researchers are focused on drinking water that has been contaminated.

Canadian business triumphs again! US company acquires Cananano Technologies

As I have noted on more than one occasion, the ‘success’ model in Canadian technology-based businesses is predicated on a buy-out, i.e. develop and grow your business so you can sell it and retire. The news about Canadian Nano Technologies (Canano) fits very well into this model. From the Jan. 12, 2011 news item on Nanotechnology Now,

Arkansas-based NanoMech, Inc. announced today that it has acquired Canadian Nano Technologies, LLC (Canano).

Canano (www.CanadianNano.com) provides custom engineered nanopowders designed to solve unique problems, adding value to products that span multiple industries including electronics, agriculture, solar energy, and aerospace. The company was founded to develop and commercialize applications of pure metal nanopowders. Using a proprietary gas condensation process partially based on research carried out at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Canano produces a wide variety of high-quality nanoparticles. Their proprietary process is unique and offers significant improvements over other nanoparticle production/collection processes.

NanoMech is a leading designer and manufacturer of nanoparticle-based additives, coatings and coating deposition systems.

Richard Tacker, Founder and CEO of Canano said, “Our customers have seen the value that our custom-engineered nanopowders bring to their products, and as a result the demand for our materials is growing rapidly. By joining NanoMech we can take advantage of their excellent management team, nanomanufacturing expertise, and scale up our production capacity to serve existing and future customers.”

The Canadian technology certainly has some interesting applications,

The nanopowder technology applications include advance methods of improving: nutrient replacement fertilizers and environmentally safe pesticides and conductive inks for printed circuit boards, RFID’s, photovoltaic printed solar cells, solar connectors, surface coatings, new generation ballistics, RF shielding, self-cleaning surfaces, solar heaters, condensers , silicon wafers, solid rocket fuels, and primers. Other applications include textiles, nano fabrics for clothing and car seat covers, odor free materials, cosmetics, sunscreens, deodorants, lip balm, cleansing products, surface protectants, cleaning chemicals, antibacterial coatings, scratch resistant surfaces, thermal barriers, super hydrophobic, dielectrics, wound dressings, lighter, stronger sports equipment, smart materials, air purifiers, water filtration and bio-aerosols, safety, sun and high definition glasses, non-reflective and smart shielding, odor free refrigerators and washing machines, automotive parts, chip resistant paints, non-corrosives, cement, concrete, and fuel savers, and much more.

Meanwhile, the discussion about innovation in Canada continues as we try to figure out why we aren’t better at innovating as per a Jan. 12, 2011 article by John Lorinc for University Affairs. (Thanks to Rob Annan for the tip via Twitter.) Lorinc notes in his article,

In its ninth report on the state of Ontario’s competitiveness, the task force headed by Roger Martin, dean of the University of Toronto’s Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, argues that low productivity in the country’s manufacturing heartland has led to low prosperity, revealing an “innovation gap.” Professor Martin writes that public policy is more concerned with science-driven inventions that, while very important to society, won’t necessarily lead to products and services that consumers want – and thus products and services that could improve Ontario’s innovation capabilities. [emphasis mine]

I am not sure that a focus on ‘science-driven inventions’ is the big problem. Certainly our inventions seem attractive to large foreign companies and corporations as per the Canano experience and many others. The article even points out that Apple is currently pursuing RIM, which is, for now, the largest Canadian technology company.

The perspective from William Polushin from McGill  is closer to my own,

For many years, William Polushin has taught a core international business undergraduate course at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management. Each year Mr. Polushin (who’s also founding director of the Desautels program for international competitiveness, trade and innovation) polls his students about their attitudes towards entrepreneurship and innovation by asking whether they see themselves as the next Bill Gates – in other words, as individuals who will come up with an innovation that could be a game-changer. Year after year, the response rate is consistent: only about 10 percent say they see themselves in this kind of role. By comparison, at a recent conference on North American competitiveness in Mexico City, he asked the students in the audience to raise their hands if they saw themselves running their own businesses in the future. “Well over half put up their hands,” he says.

The results of his straw polls tell a story. Canada has not been especially successful at fostering an innovation mindset among successive generations of business grads and entrepreneurs. Mr. Polushin says, “We don’t have a strong risk orientation in our own country.” [emphasis mine] Most of his students aspire to work in large companies, even though the supply of Canadian-based multinationals continues to shrink due to consolidation. The result, he says, is that much R&D and innovation activity occurs elsewhere.

For a bit of contrast,

Although he’s based at the epicentre of Ottawa’s policy machinery, veteran Statistics Canada economist John Baldwin has a message that runs sharply counter to much of the conventional wisdom that emanates from the capital’s think tanks. “There’s an awful lot of innovation taking place,” says Dr. Baldwin, director of StatsCan’s economic analysis division. The problem is that Canadian policy doesn’t recognize it as such.

I think that’s true too and illustrates the point that discussion about innovation in Canada is complex and nuanced. I recommend reading Lorinc’s entire article.

Todd Babiuk’s article for the Edmonton Journal, Canada failing to create culture of innovation, provides an insider’s perspective from Peter Hackett,

He was, for five years, the president and CEO of a now-shuttered endowment fund called Alberta Ingenuity. The mandate of Alberta Ingenuity, devised to be independent of the provincial government, was to encourage and support innovation in science, technology and engineering. This innovation would lead to spinoff companies that would create fabulous wealth and opportunity for Albertans, attract talented people, and diversify the economy.

Then, all of a sudden, he wasn’t the president and CEO of an independent organization. Alberta Ingenuity has been replaced by Alberta Innovates, and it is operated by the department of Advanced Education and Technology.

“What I take from it, in terms of lessons, is it’s thrilling to watch a group of people take a great product to the market,” said Hackett, in his current office at the University of Alberta’s National Institute for Nanotechnology, where he is a fellow. Before he arrived in Alberta, Hackett did similar work at the National Research Council in Ottawa, spinning Canadian research into businesses.

“But in 15 years of an innovation agenda, honestly,” he said, “governments have accomplished nothing.”

On a YouTube video shot at the Canadian Science Policy Centre in late 2010, Hackett criticizes the Canadian government’s unhelpful and backward interventions into business, through the tax system.

If you’re making a profit, we’re going to help you. But if you’re growing, we won’t. [emphasis mine] In the U.S., it’s completely the other way around. That’s why they have a lot of small companies that grow into big companies.”

In the same video he outlines, briefly and rather devastatingly, the problem with venture capital in Canada. “Government’s intervention into venture capital has ruined the ability for Canadian companies to grow,” he says.

… “We created a tax break for investing in venture capital,” he said, in his office. “So it was about the tax break, not this great company: Facebook, whatever you like. It’s absurd!”

Point well taken regarding the tax break for venture capital. As I recall, there were similar issues with film funding tax breaks. These were addressed and finally, real movies as opposed to ‘tax break’ movies got funded. Part of the problem with government tax programmes such as tax breaks for venture capital funding or film funding is the law of unintended (and counterproductive) consequences and the extraordinarily long time it takes to resolve them.

There was one other point in Hackett’s interview, “If you’re making a profit, we’re going to help you. But if you’re growing, we won’t,” which is well illustrated by Rob Annan’s Nov. 30, 2010 posting (on the Researcher Form blog) where he discusses this phenomenon in the context of Medicago,

Medicago is a Canadian company that produces vaccines in tobacco plants instead of using traditional egg-production techniques. This allows a much more rapid development and deployment of seasonal and pandemic vaccines. Their proprietary technology, currently in phase I and II clinical trials, was developed in Canada thanks in part to government funding …

They’ve been awarded numerous Canadian business and technology awards. They have translated these investments and successes into millions of dollars in private sector investment and a public listing on the TSX. Not bad for a company based out of Quebec City.

So what’s wrong with this obvious success story?

Medicago made the news this week because the US Department of Defense is investing $21-million to build a 90,000 sq ft state-of-the art production facility in North Carolina. The facility will be able to produce 120-million pandemic vaccine doses annually or 40-million seasonal vaccine doses annually. In a news release, the US government recognizes the company’s ability to bolster domestic vaccine supply, respond more rapidly than traditional methods, and bring “hundreds of good paying jobs” to the region.

The 90,000 sq ft facility in North Carolina will dwarf the current estimated 15,000 sq ft dedicated to production in Quebec City, and will inevitably shift the company’s focus south.

The Canadian government’s response?

According to CBC news, Health Canada remains committed to egg-based vaccines …

While it’s discouraging to read about, I like to find hope in the fact that innovation in Canada is being discussed and folks seem to be interested in finding ways to promote and nurture innovation in Canada.

Nanomaterials, toxicity, and Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Health

Thanks to a reader who provided me with a link, I found a document (titled Evidence) about a ‘nanomaterials’ hearing held by Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on June 10, 2010 and chaired by Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament, Vancouver Quadra. It makes for interesting reading and you can find it here.

The official title for the hearing was Potential Risks and Benefits of Nanotechnology, which I found out after much digging around. The purpose for the *hearing*  seemed to be the education of the committee members about nanotechnology both generally (what is it? is there anything good about it?) and about its possible toxicology.

For information about the committee and the meeting, go here to find the minutes, the evidence (direct link provided in 1st para.), and your choice of webcasts (English version, French version, and floor version). One comment before you go, keep scrolling down past the sidebar and the giant white box to find the list of meetings along with appropriate links and if you choose to listen to the webcast, wait at least 1 minute for the audio to start. There’s a list of the committee members here, again scroll down past the giant white box to find the information.

I am going to make a few comments about this hearing. I will have to confine myself to a few points as the committee covered quite a bit of ground in the proceedings as they grappled with understanding something about nanotechnology, health and safety issues, benefits, and regulatory frameworks, amongst other issues.

It was unexpected to find that Mihail Roco, a well known figure in the US nanotechnology field, was speaking via videoconference (from the document),

Dr. Mihail Roco (Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology, National Nanotechnology Initiative, National Science Foundation, As an Individual) (p. 1 in print version, p. 3 in PDF)

He did have this to say,

First of all, I would like to present an overview of different themes in the United States, and thereafter make some recommendations, some ideas for the future. [emphasis mine] (p. 5 in print version, p. 7 in PDF)

I have to say my eyebrows raised at Roco’s “… make some recommendations …” comment. While appreciative of his experience and perspective, I’ve sometimes found that speakers from the US tend to give recommendations that are better geared to their own situation and less so to the Canadian one. Thankfully,  he offered unexceptional advice that I heartily agree with,

I would like to say, in conclusion, that it’s important to have an anticipatory, participatory, and adaptive governance approach to nanotechnology in order to capture the new developments and also to prepare people, tools, and organizations for the future. (p. 6 in print version, p. 8 in PDF)

The Canadian guests are not as well known to me save for Dr. Nils Petersen who heads up Canada’s National Institute of Nanotechnology. Here is a list of the Canadian guest speakers,

Mr. (sometimes referred to as Dr. in the document) Claude Ostiguy (Director, Research and Expertise Support Department, Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail) (p. 1 in print version, p. 3 in PDF)

Dr. Nils Petersen (Director General, National Research Council Canada, National Institute for Nanotechnology) (p. 2 in print version, p. 4 in PDF)

Dr. Claude Emond (Toxicologist, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Université de Montréal) (p. 3 in print version, p. 5 in PDF)

Ms. Françoise Maniet (Lecturer and Research Agent, Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la biologie, la santé, la société et l’environnement (CINBIOSE) et Groupe de recherche en droit international et comparé de la consommation (GREDICC), Université du Québec à Montréal) (p. 4 in print version, p. 6 in PDF)

Emond spoke to the need for a national nanotechnology development strategy. He also mentioned communication although I’m not sure he and would agree much beyond the point that some communication programmes are necessary,

The different meetings I attend point out the necessity to integrate the social communication transparency education aspect in nanotechnology development, so many structures already exist around the words. As I said before with OECD, NNI, we also have ISO 229. Now we have a network called NE3LS in Quebec, and we also have this international team we created a few years ago, which I spoke about earlier [he leads an international team in nano safety with members from France, Japan, US, Germany, and Canada].

A Canadian strategy initiative in nanotechnology can be inspired by a group above. In closing the discussion, I want to say there is an urgent need to coordinate the national development of nanotechnology and more particularly in parallel with the nanosafety issue, including research, characterization exposure, toxicology, and assessment. I would like to conclude by saying that Canada has to assume leadership in nanosafety and contribute to this international community rather than wait and see.

The NE3LS in Québec is new to me and I wonder if  they liaise with the team in Alberta last mentioned here in connection with Alberta’s Nanotechnology Asset Map.

In response to a question from the committee member, Mrs. Cathy McLeod, Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo,

First, because I am someone who is somewhat new to the understanding of this issue, could we take an example of either a cosmetic or a food or something that’s commonplace and follow it through from development into the product so I could understand the pathway of a nanoparticle in a cosmetic product or food? (p. 6 in print version, p. 8 in PDF)

The example Dr. Ostiguy used for his response was titanium dioxide nanoparticles in sunscreens and his focus was occupational safety, i.e., what happens to people working to produce these sunscreens.  The surprising moment came when I saw Dr. Petersen’s response as he added,

In the case of cosmetics, they take that nanoparticle and put it into the cream formulation at a factory site. Then it normally comes out to the consumer encapsulated or protected in one way or another. [emphasis mine]

In general, in those kinds of manufacturing environments the risks are at the start of the process, when you are making the particles and incorporating them into a material, and possibly at the end of the product’s life, when you’re disposing of it. It might then be released in ways that you might not have anticipated—for example, through the wearing down or opening of the cassette of toner or whatever.

I think those are the two areas. Most consumers would see a product in which nanoparticles are encapsulated or incorporated— maybe inside a cellphone, or something like that—and often not be exposed in that way. (p. 7 in print version, p. 9 in PDF)

As I understand Petersen’s comments, he believes that the nanoparticles in sunscreens (and other cosmetics) do not make direct contact as they are somehow incorporated into a shell or capsule. He then makes a comparison to cell phones to prove his point. This is incorrect. Yes, any nanomaterials in a cell phone are bound to the product (cell phones are not rubbed onto the skin) but the nanoparticles in sunscreens make direct contact and *penetrate the skin. *ETA June 28, 2010: It has not been unequivocally proved that nanoparticles penetrate healthy adult skin. I apologize for the error. ** ETA July 19, 2010: As per the July 18, 2010 posting on Andrew Maynard’s 2020 Science blog, the evidence so far suggests that there is no skin penetration by nanoparticles in sunscreens.

I have posted extensively about nanoparticles and sunscreens and will try later to lay in some links either to my posts or to more informed parties as to safety issues regarding consumers.

There was an interesting development towards the end of the meeting with Carolyn Bennett, St. Paul’s,

Firstly, I wanted to apologize for being late. I think some of you know it was the tenth anniversary of CIHR [Canadian Institutes of Health Research] this morning, the breakfast, and some of us who were there at the birth were supposed to be there at the birthday party. So my apologies.

What happened on the way in to the breakfast was that I ran into Liz Dowdeswell, from the Council of Canadian Academies, and it seems that they have just done a review of nanotechnology in terms of pros and cons. [emphasis mine]So I would first ask the clerk and the analyst to circulate that report to the committee, because I think it might be very helpful to us, and then I think it would be interesting to know if the witnesses had seen it and whether they had further comments on whether you felt it was taking Canada in the right direction.

The report mentioned by Bennett was released in July 8, 2008 (news release). You can find the full report here and the abridged version here.

I wouldn’t describe this report as having just been “done” but I think that as a primer it stands up well. (You can read my 2008 comments here.)

I do find it sad that neither this committee nor Peter Julian the Member of Parliament who earlier this year tabled the first bill concerned with nanotechnology were aware of the report’s existence. It adds weight to an issue (nobody in Ottawa seems to be aware of their work) for the Council of Canadian Academies mentioned on this blog here (where you will find links to a more informed discussion by Rob Annan at Don’t leave Canada behind and the folks at The Black Hole).

I’m glad to see there’s some interest in nanotechnology in Ottawa and I hope they continue to dig for more information.

I have sent Joyce Murray a set of questions which I hope she’ll answer about the committee’s interest in nanotechnology and about the science resources and advice available to the Members of Parliament.

ETA June 30, 2010: I received this correction from Mr. Julian’s office today:

I would like to bring to your attention incorrect information provided in the Frogheart posting on June 23, Nanomaterials, Toxicity, and Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Health. Of particular concern are the closing comments:

“I do find it sad that neither this committee nor Peter Julian the Member of Parliament who earlier this year tabled the first bill concerned with nanotechnology were aware of the report’s existence. It adds weight to an issue (nobody in Ottawa seems to be aware of their work) for the Council of Canadian Academies mentioned on this blog here (where you will find links to a more informed discussion by Rob Annan at Don’t leave Canada behind and the folks at The Black Hole). I’m glad to see there’s some interest in nanotechnology in Ottawa and I hope they continue to dig for more information.”

Mr. Julian is indeed aware of the Council of Canadian Academies excellent report on nanotechnology in 2008. The document is one of many that formed the basis of Mr. Julian’s Bill C-494 which was tabled in Parliament on March 10. It is incorrect to assume that Mr. Julian was not aware of the report’s existence.

There is indeed interest in nanotechnology in Ottawa. Canadians should expect sustained interest when the House of Commons reconvenes in September with a focus on better ensuring that nanotechnology’s benefits are safely produced in the marketplace.

I apologize for the error and I shouldn’t have made the assumption. I am puzzled that the Council of Canadian Academies report was not mentioned in the interview Mr. Julian very kindly gave me and where I explicitly requested some recommendations for Canadians who want to read up about nanotechnology. Mr. Julian’s reply (part 2 of the interview) did not include a reference to the Council’s nanotechnology report, which I consider more readable than some of the suggestions offered.

*’haring’ changed to ‘hearing’ on July 26, 2016.