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Lee Kuan Yew Distinguished Visitor speaks on nanotechnology

27 July 2012

Prof Mirkin (left) with NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan and NUS Faculty of Science Dean Prof Andrew Wee

The packed auditorium at the nanotechnology lecture

Far from being a mere buzzword, nanotechnology is already here and being applied in many sectors, ranging from electronics, medicine and energy to security and defence. Professor Chad Mirkin, who is Rathmann Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University in the United States, stressed this fact at an NUS lecture in his capacity as a Lee Kuan Yew Distinguished Visitor.

"Nanotechnology focuses on developing tools for making, characterising and manipulating materials on the nanometre length scale. It also determines the chemical and physical consequences of miniaturisation. What really makes this field interesting is that everything when miniaturised has new properties," said Prof Mirkin, one of the world's most cited chemists and an adviser to US President Barack Obama.

The nanoscience expert illustrated the observation with his invention of the Dip-Pen Nanolithography which can be used to deposit molecules and materials on surfaces with sub-50-nanometre resolution. National Geographic named the technology as one of the 100 scientific discoveries that changed the world. The novel technology has allowed circuit boards to shrink, leading to the development of progressively smaller computers.

Following the engrossing lecture, Prof Mirkin fielded questions from the packed auditorium which included the infrastructure needed to commercialise research work as well as technical details related to nanotechnology.

Established in 1995, the Distinguished Visitors Programme invites internationally eminent academics and scholars to Singapore to create high-level contributions to NUS, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore. The programme is funded by an endowment fund set up by friends and well-wishers of Singapore's former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew on the occasion of his 60th birthday.