Saudi facility signs pact with IBM for nanotech R&D

Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 08:00 Hrs
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Dubai: Saudi Arabia's King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) Tuesday signed an agreement with IBM Research to set up a Nanotechnology Centre for Excellence.

"Working and partnering with IBM, one of the leading global technology companies and the world's largest nanotechnology research institution, not only helps us to address important scientific and economic challenges to the Kingdom such as energy and water desalination but also helps us to evolve our strategy and take our research efforts to new heights," KACST president Mohammad I. Al-Suwaiyel said in a statement.

According to the agreement, Saudi scientists and engineers will work side by side with their counterparts from IBM on advanced nano-science and nano-technology programmes in the fields of solar energy, water desalination and petrochemical applications such as recyclable materials.

"This type of joint technology development agreement is critical for the Kingdom as it builds its capabilities in advanced scientific research and development," Al-Suwaiyel said.

The work will be conducted between teams working at IBM laboratories in Zurich in Switzerland, Almaden in California, Yorktown Heights in New York and the KACST/IBM Nanotechnology Centre of Excellence in Riyadh, according to the statement.

IBM Research' vice-president for business development and licensing William LaFontaine Jr. said the world's most important societal issues, such as those related to the environment, could no longer be addressed in isolation.

"Today's announcement demonstrates that when it comes to creating renewable energy or clean drinking water, the nature of innovation is changing to become more global and collaborative," he said.

Apart from Al-Suwaiyel and LaFontaine Jr., among those present at the signing ceremony in Riyadh were KACST vice-president for research institutes Turki bin Saud, IBM and general manager for IBM Middle East, Egypt and Pakistan Takreem El Tohamy.

Nanotechnology is the field of applied science focused on the reliable and repeatable design and control of the structure of very small objects. The length scales range from the atomic to the macroscopic - generally, from one to 100 nanometres.

A nanometre is one-billionth of a metre or roughly 100,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair.
Source: IANS
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