The National Nanotechnology Centre (Nanotec) has set up a computational nanotechnology science consortium to create a network of nanotechnology researchers in the country, while pooling and utilising resources for local nanotechnology development.
Set up six month ago, the consortium now comprises researchers from nine major universities which conduct nanotechnology research and development.
As host of the consortium, Nanotec has pushed for the establishment of a centre where researchers can use equipment and tools for their research.
Nanotec's director Wiwut Tanthapanichakoon said that as conducting nanotechnology research requires equipment and analysis tools, the centre has spent Bt6 million to build essential facilities where researchers in the consortium can do further nanotechnology development.
The centre, he added, would be equipped with computer hardware and simulation software and researchers could use the tools to simulate nanotechnology-based experiments.
Instead of doing a real experiment in a laboratory, they can bring their nanotechnology research to the centre where a computer could simulate the experiment for them. In this way researchers can do better work while saving time and costs conducting real experiments. They would no longer need to use real materials to do an experiment but could do trial-and-error tests several times until they had a satisfactory outcome.
"Since the tools to simulate experiments are still expensive, we've allocated a budget to invest in the facilities and allow researchers in the consortium to use them for free," Wiwut said.
To provide the facilities, the centre has worked with the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) to set up computing infrastructure. It has also worked with the Thai National Grid Centre (TNGC) to utilise TNGC's grid-computing system for simulated experiments. "As conducting a simulated experiment requires high-performance computing, creating a link with TNGC is a must," he said.
Once a virtual nanotechnology experiment is conducted, the result will be sent for processing by TNGC. After the power of grid computing has been applied, the result will be sent back to the centre.
TNGC is designed for research and educational purposes. It comprises 200 dual-processor nodes with 53 terabytes of storage, located at the main centre in Kasetsart University. The network also has another 80 dual-processor nodes - totally 160 CPUs - installed in 14 founding universities. This high-performance computing network allows virtual experiments to be conducted in a shorter time, thus making for faster nanotechnology development.
Wiwut said the consortium also planned to create more cooperation among researchers to conduct co-developments on nanotechnology projects.
"Research and development on nanotechnology in Thailand is now done separately so we hope the consortium will be a way to create more cooperation among researchers," he said.