Institute to Develop Materials of the Future Opened at Trinity College Dublin

Posted on: 17 May 2001

A £17 million Institute dedicated to the development of new materials for technological advancement was officially opened at Trinity College on Thursday May 17 by the Minister for Education and Science, Dr. Michael Woods, T.D.

The Sami Nasr Institute for Advanced Materials will create 50 new places for undergraduate science students and increase the number of postgraduate research places in advanced materials at Trinity College to 142.

Advanced materials are specially produced materials which enable new and improved technological development. New materials, from stone to steel to silicon, have played a key role in modern developments. New materials emerging from the laboratory at Trinity College which will form the basis of technology in the 21st century include: new semiconductors for faster, smaller electronic devices and computers; new magnets for energy-efficient transportation systems; new molecules and plastics for better and more efficient drugs and medical devices; and new optical fibres for better communication systems.

The Government’s 1999 Technology Foresight Report identified the development of advanced materials education and research as necessary to aid the continued growth of the Celtic Tiger. The Institute provides a response to this need by drawing together lecturers and researchers from the departments of Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science and Microelectronics.

The Government’s Technology Foresight Report also identified a skills shortage in the advanced materials area. The undergraduate positions will provide highly skilled graduates to work in this area and the Institute’s postgraduates will act as research bases for high-tech industries already in the country, and will help attract more high-tech companies to Ireland.

“The Institute will enable the kind of interdisciplinary research which will lead to the scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century”, stated Professor Werner J. Blau, Acting Research Director of the Institute and Head of Physics Department at the opening.

The building is 6,158 sq.m and has been jointly funded by private donations from individuals, including Sami Nasr a 1961 Palestinian geology graduate, INTEL Ireland Ltd. and the Government’s Higher Education Authority under its Skills Shortage Programme and Programme for Research in Third-level Institutions.

As part of the day’s activities, Trinity College hosted a commemorative symposium reviewing the life and times of physicist George Francis Fitzgerald.

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