Science goes boldly into ‘inner’ space


The notion of injecting nano-structured materials into the human body to attack a tumour or performing surgery on individual cells sounds like futuristic fiction.

However, these technological breakthroughs, and others, are closer than many would imagine and will be part of the discussions Jan. 5-8 at the first International Conference on Transport and Optical Properties of Nanomaterials at Allahabad University in India, about 350 miles southeast of Delhi.

The four-day conference is being led by Western Physics and Astronomy professor Mahi Singh, whose personal research focuses on the study of transport, magnetic, chemical and optical properties of biological, electronic, and photonic materials.

The challenge with his work is to bridge the gap between theory and experiments, with the ultimate objective of his research being to fabricate a new generation of bio-molecular and electronic devices, computers, ultra fast optical switches and micro-lasers. Such devices may work faster, fit into smaller spaces, require less power, and give off less heat.

While Singh has travelled to and spoken at numerous conferences, there has never been one specifically focusing on his work, so he figured “do it myself.”

The conference is mainly sponsored by Western and will return to the campus for the second annual conference in 2010.

“Our university is one of the leading institutions in the world on nano-science and nanotechnology,” says Singh, who will travel to India in the new year with seven to eight fellow Western professors.

“It is a great achievement for our university to organize this conference on the very hot research topic of this century.”

The conference is expected to bring together more than 250 scientists and engineers from around the world to discuss various aspects of nanomaterial synthesis and characterization, along with photonics and the most recent developments in the areas of growth and characterization of nano-structured materials.

“On the nanoscale, size itself produces novel physical, chemical and engineering properties that can be exploited to fabricate devices with entirely new characteristics,” says Singh. “The associated challenges, both intellectually, scientifically and eventually industrially, are enormous and fascinating.”

Countries to be represented include India, Canada, UK, USA, France, Germany, Israel, Brazil, Japan, Norway, China, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden and more.

“When it comes to nanotechnology, the possibilities are infinite,” says Singh, noting applications in medical, communications and military are just some of the areas that would benefit.

He adds the conference will also be a great opportunity to showcase Western.

“The interactions between Western scientists and academics from other parts of the world during this conference can serve as a fertile ground for nurturing future connections and collaborations, and will enhance our reputation as one of the university signature areas (Materials and Biomaterials),” says Singh.

For more information about the conference, visit ictopon2009.uwo.ca.