Tom Vogt's Nano and Technology Blog

Knowledge Arms Race II
about 1500 days ago.




Shifting grounds and what to worry about:

The King Abdullah University of Science & Technology has started its operation with a $10 billion endowment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Abdullah_University_of_Science_and_Technology

MIT's endowment just got to over $8 billion
http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/09/mit_endowment_r.html

One of the largest issues facing us in the near future is to have access to a large enough high tech work force in the US to keep high tech manufacturing jobs here.
Former president's science advisor John Marburger stated in a discussion during the celebration of the National Nanoscience Initiative in Washigton D.C last week that without immigration reform nothing can be accomplished within a reasonable time frame.

I can think of no quicker and better way to grow the US high tech workforce than by increasing the number of H1B visas and actively promoting legal immigration of scientists and engineers to the US. We already educate a lot of bright young people from developing countries in our top universities in science and engineering. Take a walk through the corridors of MIT, Stanford or USC's Swearingen building...this is the most important resource for our immediate future and we send them home?

We need these bright young kids because we need a wave of innovation and commercialization to maintain our quality and standard of living.







Knowledge Arms Race II: Green Card & Brain Gain
about 1507 days ago.






The most important resource of the future will be a well-educated workforce with skills to tackle complex regional and global problems.

In the feeble attempt of a Socratic dialogue on higher education here in South Carolina a contentious issue was the ratio of out-of- state to in-state students. The notion of fairness was evoked and unfortunately many would prefer that universities focus on what is only one of their missions: the education of South Carolinia's youth. What is completely missed in this vision is the investment in the future. What South Carolina needs are well-educated people who move here, start businesses here, educate their kids here and contribute to their communities and the state by paying taxes here in South Carolina.

Imagine the following:

Every foreigner earning a PhD from a University in South Carolina, who is in good standing, has no criminal record or outstanding warrants gets besides his diploma a temporary visa extension for 3 years if he/she settles in South Carolina. After that period he/she is eligible for a green card.

Outrageous? Well consider this:
World regions experiencing the highest net immigration are currently North America, Western Europe and the Middle East. Together these three regions account for 79.5% of world net immigration. The United States alone accounts for 37.1% of the world net total.


Want high quality immigration? Brain Gain? Consider this:
America has always benefited from immigration: 23% of all technology start ups in the Seattle area, 52 percent of all start ups in Silicon Valley and 44 percent in New York are started by immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs.

The National Venture Capital Association in 2008 found that 25% of all venture-backed publicly-traded companies started in the past 15 years were created by immigrants. It also found that 47 percent of venture-backed companies that responded to the study had at least one immigrant founder.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg remarked:


"We educate the best and brightest and then we don't give them a green card".


Thomas Friedman adds:


"...instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours."




Make sense to you?







Knowledge Arms Race
about 1534 days ago.










We are ill prepared for the global knowledge arms race. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

  • Only 27% of Americans see scientific advancement as one of our nation's top achievements

  • 30% of Americans place little or no trust in what scientists report about the environment

  • Compared with students from developed nations, 15-year-old Americans rank 21st in science and 25th in math.
Addressing these issues, in particular the latter, will take decades of hard work. It will require a cultural shift and a renaissance of 'old-fashioned' values: the commitment of a large part of society to engage in science and engineering studies and careers and by doing so delay gratification. The public needs to come to grips with the realization that technology needs nurturing and substantial time to grow. A long term investment strategy for knowledge incubation needs to stop the practice of using quarterly 401k-statements, share-holder meetings and elections as an appropriate moment to judge the potential of emerging technologies.

Oversimplification driven by the desire to score political points needs to be more challenged in the public arena. The uneducated and untrained mind will be tempted by the path of least resistance and no change, which is rarely the right course of action. Thomas Jefferson warned about the connection of freedom and knowledge :
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

All educational institutions from K-12 to research active universities need to radically transform themselves to be able to live up to their responsibilities. Teaching needs to be re-focused and schools and universities need to adopt frugality as a leitmotif and move away from education being "an experience". We need to start an open discussion of cherished academic practices such as tenure and sabbatical leave - to ensure that these privileges continue to be available they need to be continuously earned and not just be seen as an open-ended entitlement.

And it also calls for an end to education being the favorite 'political red meat' fed to the public by politicians looking for a 'wedge issue'. Instead education needs to be valued again as an important asset to meet future challenges.

Education = Prosperity
about 1534 days ago.


John Warner has it right:

If, as he writes:

"...average income in South Carolina was at the national average there would be $35 billion more personal income in South Carolina. What would we do to attract a company that had a $35 billion impact on South Carolina's economy? We threw more than half a billion dollars at Boeing, so it would be something considerably north of that. "

To put the number in perspective: in 2007 Exxon Mobil made a profit north of $40 billion.

I'm not known for quoting members of the Bush family but former Florida Governor Bush also has it right :
"I think we are in an education arms race with the rest of the world because knowledge will drive job creation. High wage jobs are only going to be created by people who can acquire knowledge."

The knowledge race is on. In the 21st century - like it or not - we will be in another global resource race, only this time it's not oil but talented people that we will be looking for.
And having research active global universities with operating budgets in the billions of dollars is an asset and a necessary but not sufficient condition to win this race.
And we focus on "out-of-state" students and buildings with space to fill ?? Of course all this only matters if you plan on being successful.



Socratic Dialogue Part I
about 1541 days ago.

The Socratic dialogue Governor Mark Sanford promised us yesterday got off to a rocky start. Strip away the "red meat"-statements unavoidable in these times of rage and so close to an election the obvious disagreement on "which numbers to use" reveals - once again - that complex matters lend themselves to oversimplifications.
College construction projects including athletic facilities are not financed to a large degree using tuition dollars. A moratorium would handicap us significantly and kill construction jobs in South Carolina.
Why student lottery scholarship money that goes to parents should be "counted twice" on the income side of the universities is unreasonable but of course it inverts the slope of the curves you show with respect to college funding.

Senator Daniel Patrick Monihan put it best:

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts."

Unfortunately but understandable rage and anger are fodder for political aspirations and do not lend themselves to "thinking outside the box" -

But important discussions are being started since many of us at universities have realized that the status quo is not sustainable.

http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Do-They-Hate-Us-/124608/
Socrates in South Carolina?
about 1543 days ago.

We are about to embark on an important debate in South Carolina - the "Governor's Summit on Higher Education" that will hopefully be in a "Socratic environment" as he put it:


"We think this summit could well provide the open and indeed Socratic environment needed to foster a frank debate about how best to address recent burdensome tuition hikes, as well as explore ways to better protect the taxpayer while keeping the dream of college within reach for hardworking South Carolina families." (quotes from Governor Sanford's website)

Let's remind ourselves that Socrates who was characterized by Plato as "the gadfly of the state (Athens)" and found guilty of corrupting the young minds of Athens and refusing to recognize the gods - was not necessarily a man of the political establishment in Athens.

A "Socratic environment" calls for an openess to debate and a willingness to engage in education, as well as the need to challenge and question 'conventional wisdom or myths'.



Let the debate begin: myths tend to shrink in the light of reason.

And lets keep Benjamin Franklin's stern warning in our mind: "The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance."

After Africa I
about 1575 days ago.






















After finishing another month of teaching at the African University of Science and Technology in Abuja, Nigeria a few comments and my "lessons learned":

Somebody once told me that one should not engage in long-term efforts "if you are not prepared to do this for the rest of your life." Having had numerous discussions with my colleagues and friends at AUST the same holds for this exciting and important pan-african project. Yes, Knowledge is Freedom but progress will need to be measured in decades. A door has been opened and we need to get many more students through these gates.

My sincere and big thanks to ALL THE STUDENTS:

Asuo Ivy Mawusi (ladies first!), Ampaw Edward, Anye Vitalis Chinoh,
Arthur Emmanuel Kwesi, Atiku Ibrahim, Danyuo Yiporo,
Donkor Michael Ofosu, John David Obayemi ,
Kolawole Shola Kolade, Vodah Emmanuel and Azeko Tahiro Salifu.

These students absorbed 3 hours of Materials Chemistry in the morning followed by 3 hours of Thermodynamics in the afternoon given by Professor Douglas Buttrey (University of Delaware, the other "oyebo" in the picture ). I was very pleased that Mrs Asuo Ivy Mawusi established herself as "best of the class". We are used to seeing African women carry enormous loads on their heads but I am looking forward to them heading efforts to modernize and change Africa. The work ethic and sheer desire to learn that this group of students displayed is remarkable and makes teaching them a pleasure.

















The Best Nigerian Road Shots
about 1592 days ago.
Driving on Nigeria's roads means to always be prepared for the unexpected: we saw horrible accidents involving trucks carrying gasoline, goats and whole families being transported on little motor cycles, cars loaded to the brink and in Kano we suddenly had a herd of cattle come at us, surround us and move on...


The pollution created by two-stroke engines is massive. Kano in the North has the worst air pollution I've seen in a long time, probably rivaled only by Moscow at the moment.

Traffic rules are truly Darwinian: when approaching an intersection one needs to intimidate the other cars by honking and not showing any indication of slowing down. There will come a critical traffic density where the implementation of 'real' traffic rules will become unavoidable. Until then the 'single actor' perspective will prevail.














































































Public and Relgious Health Policies
about 1593 days ago.
AIDS is taking a brutal toll on the young and sexually active population in Sub-Saharan Africa. Countries like Nigeria have to adopt public policies today to continue and reduce infections and be able to build on its biggest asset: the population under 25. Africa is the "youngest continent": 35% of the population are under 25.The human, medical, and economic costs of AIDS infections can become too much to bear for an emerging society. Decades of development can be erased by AID/HIV since its treatment will impose huge medical costs and decimate the future workforce. Nigeria has kept its AIDS infection rate for adults between 15 and 49% at 3.1%. This is low compared to other African countries such as Swaziland (26.1%), Botswana (23.9%), Lesotho (23.2%), South Africa (18.2%) and Zimbabwe (15.3%).

It is smart policy to use every opportunity (even highway signs!) to warn of the dangers of AIDS/HIV. And while one can find much to criticize about the divisiveness of religion in Africa it is a community-based organization that has the potential to do much good. The sign on AIDS prevention above was found prominently displayed at the Abuja National Mosque.





Nigerian Roadblocks
about 1599 days ago.

Roadblocks are found everywhere in Nigeria.. To travel by car in Nigeria means passing thousands of roadblocks set up by army and police.

Roadblocks are set up by closing a lane using a big stone or tree and then standing as menacing as possible showing your AK47, the weapon of choice in Nigeria. Since we drive cars marked “African Institutes of Science” and have guards with us we are most of the time allowed to pass. However, most Nigerians have to pay a bribe, locally referred to as dash to get through.

I found the left cartoon in Sunday’s Daily in Abuja, indicating that this is common practice. It points to a corrupt society which since independence always has ranked amongst the most corrupt countries in the world. Chinua Achebe, a very well known Nigerian writer writes in “The Trouble with Nigeria”:

“There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or air, or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which is the hallmark of true leadership.”

Nigerian history bears witness to this all-present and monstrous corruption: Abacha, who ruled as a military dictator between 1993 and 1998 and was known for the sunglasses he constantly wore embezzled near $1billion dollar of public funds. In 1970, due to the oil boom Nigeria was the 33rd richest country in the world. Under Abacha’s dictatorship it dropped to be the 13th poorest by 1997. After Abacha died a deal was brokered to end all criminal proceedings against Abacha’s oldest son in return for 80% of the stolen assets. About $770 million have since been recovered.

Another roadblock is the inadequate and intermittent power supply: only 10% of all rural population and 40% of all Nigerians have access to electricity. Neglecting the energy infrastructure Nigeria’s National Electric Power Authrity (NEPA) produces less than half of the possible capacity and power cuts are part of daily life. All computers and facilities at the African University need uninterruptable power supplies (UPS). Nigerians cynically say NEPA stands for “Never Expect Power Always”. In 2006 NEPA actually changed its name to “Power Holding Company of Nigeria” PHCN, which Nigerians say stands for “Problem Has Changed Name”.
Access to water is another problem. only 60% of all Nigerians have access to safe drinking water, in rural areas only 30%. Handcarts with water containers and bottles are ubiquitous. This leads to another problem: non-degradable PET bottles are dropped everywhere. If nearly 150 million Nigerians drop two bottles a day an environmental legacy is being created that will take decades to deal with. Public urination and defecation results in further health hazards and huge breeding grounds for mosquitoes, rats and cockroaches can be seen near garbage piles everywhere.

All this must be seen in light of the tremendous oil wealth. 95% of Nigeria’s export earnings come from oil exports, 85% of all government revenue is due to oil. Nigeria has proven oil reserves close to 40 million barrels. But this has not translated into a sustainable and health economy. Nigeria needs to build more oil refineries and stop exporting crude oil and instead sell more refined and value-added products. The oil contains very little sulfur impurities and is therefore very desirable on the world market. But again crime and corruption rule: Over 100,000 barrels a day are stolen shipped illegally out of the country. Pipelines in the Niger Delta, where almost all of the oil is found are taped and then left to leak creating an environmental disaster that makes the Gulf of Mexico look like a minor incident. This is happening since decades. Due to the mad rush for the ‘black gold’ Nigeria has completely neglected the long term economic growth of its manufacturing and agricultural sectors. You drive around and notice: it is green and very fertile – Nigeria could be the bread basket of sub-Saharan Africa. Instead it finds itself in a political, economical and environmental mess of epic proportions. What must grow in Nigeria with the utmost urgency and be recognized as its most important resource ahead of oil is an educated class of young Nigerians who will tackle these problems using technology and best practices in governance. This means creating a new culture. Plenty of raw material for this transformation is available : about 45% of Nigeria’s population is under the age of 14. The process must start now….
The "Digital Railroad" - Connecting Africa
about 1601 days ago.
Connecting Africa to the digital world is an important goal and progress is being made. At the African University of Science and Technology here in Abuja using Skype, email or text messaging is an important tool for us visiting faculty to stay in contact with our students after we leave. The development of the communication infrastructure will determine the location of the ‘corridors of shame’ in cyberspace. Being connected to main cyber arteries is vital for the growth and development of science, technology and commerce.

Historically one of the most important infrastructure projects was the Uganda Railway, which integrated colonial East Africa into the British Empire. Now ‘digital railways’ are being built and one example is the Seacom project - a $800 million project to run an undersea fiber optic cable along the East African coast mainly funded by African investors. These efforts will allow Africa to join the global e-commerce trade and provide vital fast communication bandwidth. Everybody here talks about bandwidth and how essential it is for continuing and accelerating the efforts to connect Africa to the World, open new markets and allow for cultural and scientific exchange.

The precedence set by the runaway implementation of mobile telephones in Africa hints at the enormous growth potential for the IT sector in Africa. Everybody has one or more cell phones here. Cell phones are ubiquitous and so are the bad habits of constantly being connected. Last night in an upscale restaurant in Abuja everyone was constantly texting, checking their email or showing and taking pictures using cell phones - so was I. Safaricom’s M-Pesa service in Kenya is an example of innovation we can learn from: integrating banking services and fast and reliable digital communication allows the transmission of money via the cell phone and lets farmers buy and sell products on markets without cash due to instant confirmation of the deal. Restaurants and other vendors are buying into this technology platform. In societies where carrying lots of cash makes you an immediate target for theft and/or bribery a cashless commerce has a massive appeal.

The fast development of the digital infrastructure will initially allow Africa to become competitive in the data processing and call center business. The good English language skills of the emerging middle class will likely result in US and European customers being directed to call centers here. The ‘Indian model’ has shown that these centers are to be seen as ‘landing parties’ for US and European businesses before engaging in manufacturing partnerships after a critical market size is reached. Make no mistake Africa will be the emerging market in the next 50 years and not paying attention to its early stages will cost us dearly down the road.

For Africa there are 3 crucial challenges to implement the ‘digital railroad”:

  1. Don’t throw out the baby with the water. Don’t overtax the African internet no matter how tempting this is. Governments are always on the quest for additional income and in countries like Nigeria were the majority of workers do not pay taxes on their wages a consumption tax is appealing. This could seriously delay the growth of the digital blood circulation and lead to limbs not being developed or succumbing to gangrene. The French postal office had a system called ‘Minitel’ about 20 years ago that was de facto a proto-internet using dial-up. The government had a strict policy of access control and no incentives to grow it as a european project. The subsequent US internet domination is the result of minimum regulation and the government staying out of the business as long as possible.Asian contries such as South Korea have now overtaken the US in certain aspects of the cyber infrastructure such as band width.

  2. Don’t buy into the current platform. One of the main lessons learned from the cell phone explosion in Africa is that ‘leap-frogging’ is possible and certain technologies (i.e. land lines) can be superseded. Sometimes it pays to not be an early adopter. Conventional laptops and desk tops will become obsolete for many businesses and at the moment net-books might be a better choice until the currently still amorphous ‘digital cloud’ becomes more structured.

  3. What African governments must do is to provide ample subventions for emerging national and pan-African research universities as well as research and commercialization centers to help them increase their digital bandwidths. Commercialization relies on an incubation and stimulus period. To make money in the knowledge economy you must first spend money.
The Rule of Law I
about 1604 days ago.
One is often reminded of the rule of law when visiting countries where the compact between the governed and their elected representatives or self appointed rulers is not based on agreed upon and codified law but on a more tacit agreement of what will be prosecuted and what not. In many societies we have laws which are either no longer used or only used in conjunction with other laws to amplify certain charges. That’s the way we use the sodomy laws still in place in many jurisdictions in the US. In case of rape they are added to the charges, as a single charge they are no longer applied. The reason: no politician wants to spend political capital to get rid of them out of fear of being branded as someone who approves of what will no longer be persecuted.

However, if legal recourse is not possible because laws will not be used then a severe dissolution of the social fabric occurs which has a very corrosive effect on the behavior of individuals which no longer feel bound by law. In modern western societies emerging behavior needs to be constrained to protect agreed upon common goods and fellow citizens. Therefore we confine smokers to certain areas, insist on hands-free use of cell phones and prohibit texting while driving. These are examples of how law needs to continuously adapt to social and behavioral changes caused by technological and politico-cultural changes.

What strikes me in African and Asian countries I’ve visited is the other side of the medal: how often technological and political changes are impeded by not having or applying existing laws which promote social behavior at the cost of limited individual gains. A constant ‘tragedy of commons’ is being played and everybody loses. Trash is left in public places and common good is given no value. This is a disturbing metaphor which describes a lot of social and political phenomena here in Nigeria. The implementation of technologies within societies without the rule of law transforms the character of technologies from tools of change and progress into instruments of power and support for the status quo. Furthermore, the cultural price that is being paid is a high one: once ignored law becomes very difficult to insist on and respect. It might even call for draconian measures to turn the tides and force compliance with existing rules regulating social interactions and behaviors such as parking, traffic rules and garbage disposal. While we enforce fines and use tickets to induce behavioral changes albeit it begrudgingly, an inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy no longer has this tool. What remains are immediate and draconian punishment. I found this sign in a government parking lot in Abuja. We would probably argue that a parking violation does not warrant deflating tires and violates the principle of proportionality of crime and punishment. However, the erosion of political and social capital in countries like Nigeria often results in an unreasonable escalation of punishment. Enforcing civil behavior using harsh punishment results in even more resentment towards law enforcement and fuels this spiral of mistrust ultimately leading to even less rule of the law.
African Technologies of Maintenance
about 1606 days ago.






Our view of technology as cutting-edge, innovative and as something that is always emerging is in stark contrast to maintaining and repairing things we already have. Maybe we should think more of things – or as my friend Davis Baird would say ‘thing-ness” rather than the concepts of technologies that project almost exclusively into the future and do not concern themselves too much with what we have right now. The maintenance and repair of existing things is old-fashioned, reeks of craftsmanship and ‘black art’ – what philosophers call tacit knowledge- and does not lend itself to ambitious, glossy and hyped power-point visions of what will be once we solve that one critical technical problem standing between us and ‘the city on the hill’. That kind of modernistic rhetoric is constantly regurgitated by people who see themselves as visionaries but have little or no direct or even ‘interactional’ expertise with respect to the technologies and things they pitch.

This kind of alienation from things is not possible in countries like Nigeria. Like in other developing countries having things implies a maintenance intense co-existence with them. The Maytag repair man is alive and well in Africa. It starts with the origin of the things being discarded, used and predominantly foreign: raised CAFE standards for vehicles, implementing cash-for-clunker incentives in the US and Europe result in a surge of decades old cars being shipped to developing countries in particular due to its proximity from Europe to Africa. In many cases the historical roots become apparent by identifying cars in African cities. In former French colonies decade old Citroens and Peugeots including the classic “deux-cheveaux” still do battle with VW Golfs and Mercedes. The same is true for washing machines, refrigerators, generators, television sets, radios and even more recently cell phones. The recycling and re-using of products that have been spit out of our consumption cycles largely due to an artificially shortened market-driven life cycle creates an enormous maintenance and repair infrastructure that has a tremendous economic impact. The main traffic arteries out of Abuja are lined with tiny repair shops bristling with activity where things are simply kept running. And to keep things running means adapting them to local supplies, available skills and cost-effective solutions. Recycled rubber, metals such as scrap cooper and steel as well as the ubiquitous use of corrugated metal sheets are combined to repair and create new parts that appear to stem the tide of time and mechanical decay of vehicles, two-stroke motorcycles and other moving hybrids by an almost continuous process of re-engineering. Another striking difference is the engagement of the customer in this process. You don’t just drop off your car, pick it up after work and pay the bill. The owner becomes involved in finding a solution for the problem and helps fix it – it is hands-on rather than hand(s)-off. This collaborative act allows for quality and price control, transfers ‘thing knowledge’ to the owner which might permit him to fix a reoccurring problem by himself. Furthermore, it also creates a bond with the craftsman that insures future work and allows for bartering, which is an important shadow economy in all developing countries. Some of us might remember the fuzzy warm feeling of conspiring with “our” mechanic on how to keep an old car running.
This process of adaptation to local use and resource availability is a ray of hope for the future of Africa, since it taps into and continuously challenges the ingenuity of local talent. The savvy craftsmen and artisans are the foundation of a yet untapped workforce for maintenance intensive use-oriented technologies such as solar water heaters, photovoltaic cells and water purification systems.
And maybe there is an important lesson for us: maintaining our infrastructure (public buildings, sewers, roads, bridges, and electrical grid) will be one of our biggest challenges and could provide the emergence of a new class of craftsmen. Maybe focusing on maintenance technologies is not so old-fashioned after all? And would it really be that bad to see how long you can keep that old car on the road?
Off to Africa
about 1613 days ago.

A new class of students is waiting at the African University of Science & Technology in Abuja, Nigeria. I will be teaching a 3 weeks course called "Introduction to Materials Chemistry".
Being and traveling in Nigeria will allow me to learn more about a country that is vital to our future. Last year's impressions might be amplified or altered...stay tuned.

But the most important thing:

These students are some of the smartest I have ever had in a class room. This is the most important resource Africa has: a smart young generation hungry for knowledge and progress.

My class last year is shown above - you can find out who they are and where they come from on http://www.aust.edu.ng/




Permanent Resource Crisis?
about 1620 days ago.

The amount and types of materials needed to implement low- or zero carbon based technologies for a weakly sustainable economy already point to the beginning of a series of resource crises (‘permanent resource crises’).

The rare earth metals have abundances on the order of parts-per-million in the earth’s crust. While the elements of this group of 15 metals are not as rare as their name indicates, their 2007 world demand of 110,000 tons, of which 90% comes from China, is used in many high-tech products and processes, including ceramics and pigments (7%), catalysis, including automotive catalytic converters (20%), phosphors for compact fluorescent and solid state lighting (LEDs) (7%), the glass and polishing industry (25%), permanent magnets such as Nd-Fe-B and SmCo5 (35%) and other applications such as the newly identified need for neodymium (Nd) for wind turbine systems and as unrefined mixtures called ‘mischmetal’ in nickel hydride batteries (6%)[1]. Many of these uses are center stage in green technologies and their demand is likely to outpace supply within a very short time.

The price of rare earth metals has been going up in the last decade, due to the limited supply (controlled by the Chinese government) and the growing demand for phosphors for lighting applications. The anticipated ban of incandescent lamps in Australia and Europe, and the push for compact fluorescent lamps in the short term has already put enormous pressure on rare earth supplies and prices. A full ‘green lighting switch’ will double the required volume of phosphors containing rare earth metals. We also anticipate a continued demand for flat plate TV screens: a continuous growth rate of 15-20% for large size flat displays is projected over the next few years. There is already a shortage of Terbium (Tb), needed for green phosphors, and Europium (Eu), used for red and blue phosphors. At most about 40% of additional Tb (~50 tons) and 75% of Eu (~130 tons) will be available by 2015.

Recycling 10-15% of the current world supply of Tb and Eu is an absolute must for addressing this materials shortage in the short to mid-term – but there is currently no agreed upon process for efficiently collecting and recycling rare earth metals from lighting phosphors.Other strategic materials needed to implement green and nanotechnologies which are currently resource limited are silver, tellurium and indium (for thin film photovoltaic devices), platinum (needed for fuel cells), and lithium (for lithium based batteries).


[1] Jean-PierreCuif, Rhodia, Global Phosphor Summit 2008
TVblog: Nanotechnology State Funds Vetoed
about 1632 days ago.
TVblog: Nanotechnology State Funds Vetoed: "The veto of $1,177,146 of state funds to operate the Nanocenter and Hydrogen Research at the University of South Carolina will accelerate d..."
Nanotechnology State Funds Vetoed
about 1632 days ago.
The veto of $1,177,146 of state funds to operate the Nanocenter and Hydrogen Research at the University of South Carolina will accelerate dramatic changes. The currently observed ‘forced privatization’ of public universities in South Carolina due to the state government abandoning its fiscal responsibilities regarding higher education while insisting on continued governance and imposition of inefficient regulatory rules will move all public academic institutions into the 'post-academic' world and increase the pressure on commercialization to provide alternative streams of revenue. Science will thrive due to federal, industrial and philanthropic funding. Some parts of the humanities will transform themselves into social sciences to be perceived as 'more relevant', but the arts and a large core of the humanities will become marginalized. Science and technology can address societal problems but ultimately a society is what it is due to its culture created in large parts by the arts and humanities.