Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Latin America

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Latin America

Adolfo Nemirovsky (LatIPnet Inc., USA), Fernando Audebert (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina), Osvaldo N. Oliveira Jr. (USP, Brazil), Carlos J. L. Constantino (UNESP, Brazil), Lorena Barrientos (Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Chile), Guillermo González (Universidad de Chile, Chile) and Elder de la Rosa (Centro de Investigaciones en Óptica, México)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-006-7.ch021


Latin America (LA) can count some strong research centers with a tradition of research excellence in certain disciplines such as medicine and biology, nuclear technology, metallurgy and materials, among others. Latin American countries have generated networks of researchers across disciplines, centers, etc. within a country, and linking two or more countries in the region (e.g., Argentina-Brazil Bi-National Center for Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, CABN). Additionally, collaborations have extended beyond LA, mainly to the EU and the USA. In general, these programs have been quite successful in the generation of interdisciplinary nanoscience and nanotechnology (N & N) research. The relation between academia and industry has been improving in the last few years, but it is still weak. In particular, funding incentives for N&N efforts have encouraged joint efforts and contributed to new dimensions in collaborations. This chapter reviews the state of nanoscience and nanotechnology in Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.
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This chapter provides a survey of the status of nanoscience and nanotechnology (N&N) in Latin America (LA), with special focus in the following four countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. N&N has already impacted the global economy, and it appears to hold a large economic potential that is just emerging. This, in turn, is bringing together strong interest from governments, academia, industry and investors in the most developed countries and some fast growing economies (China, India, etc.). In fact, according to Lux Research (Lux 2008), global funding in N&N during 2008 reached almost $20 billion with over 40% from governments, about 40% of corporate funding, and over 5% from venture capital contribution. Products incorporating nanotech reached over $240 billion with about 65% in manufacturing and materials, 25% electronics and IT and 10% in healthcare and life sciences. Lux predicts that nanotech will touch $3.1 trillion worth of products along the value chain by 2015. Latin America contribution to total investment and N&N products has been growing but still is quite small. For example, Latin American governments’ investment in N&N in 2006 reached just about $50 million (see Table 1).

Table 1.
Population, income per capita, R&D and N&N expenditure, Science and Engineering (S&E) and N&N articles and patents to residents, for Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico–compared against selected references
CountryPopulation in 2006 (millions)2006 GNI per capita (thousands)2006 R&D spending (as % GNP)Government spending (millions) N&N R&D
(estimated 2006)
S&E articles 2005 per million peopleNanotech publications per million people (2005)Patents to residents per million people (2005)

Source: Kay L. & Shapira P. (2009)

GNI is the gross national income per capita at the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) as defined by the World Bank. PPP exchange rates equalize purchasing power across different countries. The data has been compiled from various sources [Kay L. & Shapira P. (2009)]

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