Nanotechnology allows scientists to observe atoms and molecules and manipulate them. New materials, improved medicine, high-speed computers, and enhanced environmental protection are just a few of the benefits that can be gained. This new field of science will play a key role in improving the global competitiveness of European industry. The knowledge generated will aid the transformation from a resource-intensive to a knowledge-intensive industry. By creating conditions for innovation and growth, new products and services will be developed.
The University of Copenhagen’s internationally recognised Nano-Science Centre has announced that it will coordinate research funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The EUR 2.5 million funding allocation will be used to maintain and further develop Europe’s position in molecular electronics. The Nano-Science Centre is the first Danish research institution to be assigned this major role under the FP7. The intention of the project is to explore how single molecules can be used as the basic element in an electronic circuit. For this reason, one of the project’s partners is IBM.
Professor Thomas Bjørnholm is head of the Nano-Science Centre and will coordinate the new international research project known as SINGLE. He said, 'Once we know how to utilise single molecules, we will be able to break down the ultimate physical barriers that exist in the development of new electronic products.' Professor Bjørnholm added, 'Molecules behave very differently from traditional electronics based on crystals of semi-conducting silicon. In the long term we will be able to integrate electronics at a molecular level, which is a great prospect for the development of, for example, biological sensors.'
Danish scientists received more than EUR 350 million for their research from the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme. As Poul Petersen, EU consultant at the University of Copenhagen, commented: 'It is vital that Denmark is at the forefront when the EU research funding is appropriated. It has great impact on our global competitiveness.'
The Nano-Science Centre opened in September 2001 as a joint venture between the Niels Bohr Institute and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen. The intention was to remove the barriers between Chemistry and Physics by having scientists from the two disciplines working together in the same building. At the time, it was one of the first cross-disciplinary initiatives of its type in the world. Research at the centre is organised into six different research groups: NanoGeoScience, BioNano and NanoMedicine, NanoPhysics, Nanoscale Quantum Electronics, NanoChemistry and Theory for Nanosystems.