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Nanotechnology: Tiny Solutions to Huge Challenges

Montreal - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Nanotechnology: Tiny Solutions to Huge Challenges

Did you know that a ‘nano’, which means ‘dwarf’ in Greek, measures one-millionth of a millimetre? A sheet of newspaper would be about 200,000 nanometres thick….

In a fascinating lecture entitled “Nanotechnology: Tiny Solutions to Huge Challenges”, Professor Yuval Golan, Director of Ben-Gurion University’s Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (IKI), demystified the universe of the extremely small. The Institute focuses on 4 different areas of research: Nano-energy, Nano-water, Nano-photonics and Nano-bio/human health; sixty-six research groups from all relevant faculties work together.

Yuval described how nano-crystals of the same material absorb and emit light in different colors according to their size, and how nano-scientists build material from the bottom up, atom by atom, rather than carving it out of solid blocks of matter. Facets of collaborative, multidisciplinary research were illuminated when Yuval described several flagship projects that are currently being undertaken at the IKI:

Nanotechnology: Tiny Solutions to Huge Challenges

- A grant of $6.5M has been awarded to BGU to develop Nano-thin Night Vision Glasses, under the direction of Prof. Gabby Sarusi. A nano-film applied to the surface of these glasses would provide enhanced vison in the darkness without the need to carry cumbersome equipment. These glasses would certainly have many important military applications and might potentially help people with night vision porblems, but could also be useful to someone looking for a car in a parking lot on a dark night!

- Directed by Prof. Joseph Kost, research is underway to create Bio-inspired Nano-carriers for Sub-cellular Targeted Therapeutics – in other words, the development of nano-sized drug particles that will be delivered by sliding along nature’s built-in pathways, into the nucleus of diseased cells. This is one huge step in the development of personalized medicine, the application of treatments that are specific to an individual’s needs to fight certain types of cancer and chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity.

- Nanotechnology is being used to increase the efficiency and life-span of solar panels.

- Nanotechnology is being used to improve the efficacy of filtration in the process of purifying and desalinating water.

- Yuval challenged us to imagine a layer of nano-film wrapped around an electric car’s muffler which has the capacity to absorb the heat generated by that muffler and transmit it to the car’s battery. This is recycling at its best!

A graduate of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute, and a post-graduate of University of California Santa Barbara, Yuval made a point of explaining that he chose to pursue his passion at Ben-Gurion University because he felt that the Negev - Israel’s southern region - is where progress would flourish. Since 1999 when he joined BGU, student enrolment, including a significant international student body, has tripled; 35% of students are engaged in advanced degree programs. In order to accommodate the anticipated major growth of the university over the next five to ten years, the North Campus is currently under development. As BGU approaches its fiftieth anniversary in 2019 it has much to be proud of and much to look forward to!

CABGU is very grateful to Professor Yuval Golan for introducing us to his world of tiny miracles, and for making very complex ideas accessible. We wish him continued success at the IKI and look forward to celebrating his future accomplishments.

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