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International conference studies nanotechnology applications for northeast India 

By C.M. Paul

Guwahati: The first private university in Assam has taken lead to organize an international conference in giving importance to research in the field of nanotechnology to appreciate and further promote efforts of nanotechnological advancements and applications in northeastern India.

Nanotechnology (“nanotech”) is manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers.

The January 9-13 conference is jointly organized by Assam Don Bosco University School of Technology at its Azara Campus in Guwahati in collaboration with the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization (SNO) of USA.

SNO is a worldwide professional society comprised of individuals and institutions engaged in: research and development of sustainable nanotechnology, advances in nanoscience, methods, protocols and metrology, and much more.

The five day iCAN 2017 (International Conference on Advances in Nanotechnology) has brought together some 80 young researchers from academic and research institutes in northeastern India and from Belgium, Sweden, Thailand, and USA to explore the possibilities of using nanotechnology to solve many of the local concerns like contaminated water, persistent pesticides, low availability of hydroelectric power, low agricultural output, to name a few.

The three days of the meet dealt with technical events involving plenary and invited talks, and remaining two days were spent in post conference brainstorming session at Kaziranga National Park (a world heritage site) with scientists and bureaucrats.

Speaking to Matters India, Conference Convener Prof Sunandan Baruah, one of the leading nano scientist of northeastern India, said, “This conference is a great initiative that brought together global experts and young researchers for the first time to this region to discuss the prospects and development of nanotechnology and provide for sustainable nanotechnological solutions to problems that beset the region.”

Citing possible application of nanotechnology in farming and plantation in Assam, veteran nano scientist Siddhartha S Mukhopadhyay retired professor of Punjab Agricultural University said, “Nanotechnology can help remedy limitations of existing farming practices in Assam by helping to retain and enrich organic matter in soils, improving use efficiency of fertilizers, minimizing pesticide use, preventing erosion and stabilizing landscape, quality improvement of medicinal plants, enhancing shelf life and quality of tea leaves, preservation of food, fruit, forest products and fish, protecting crops and plantations from frost, water, heat and other stress factors, ameliorating soil acidity and soil salinity as well as rejuvenating soil fertility.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit sent their messages for the success of the conference, while Assam’s Minister of Science and Technology Keshab Mahanta, Member of North Eastern Council Shillong C.K. Das IAS (Retd) and Chief Information Commissioner of Assam H.S. Das IAS (Retd) were present at the opening session.

Assam Chief Minister along with six cabinet ministers held a session with a seven member Indian and foreign delegation on January 10 to propose ways to take forward nanotechnology research and application in the state.

Outcome of the meet will be part of brainstorming session with nano scientists and bureaucrats scheduled for the last two days in Kaziranga National Park.

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