David and Goliath


Jim Metson, Ashton Partridge, Richard Tilley and Shane Telfer formed part of a MoSRT-sponsored delegation to Japan in December 2007. Our brief was to explore collaborative opportunities between New Zealand and Japan in the field of nanotechnology. This builds on a bilateral cooperation MoU that was signed by MoRST and its Japanese counterpart in 2005. We visited two institutes, the National Institute of Materials Science (NIMS) and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), both of which are located in Tsukuba (just north of Tokyo).

Needless to say, the facilities available at these institutes were staggering, and their science truly inspiring. Collaboration between NZ scientists and such institutes thus has a bit of a ‘David and Goliath’ feel to it, but we were able to identify some niche areas where there are complementary areas of interest. The first event to emerge from these discussions is a joint NZ-Japan workshop on Nanomaterials for Energy, which will be hosted by NIMS in early 2009. Many MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigators will participate in this workshop, and it is hoped that it will seed some collaborative projects. Ideally, these workshops will become regular events, and other opportunities will arise (perhaps student exchanges). The real catalyst for many of these developments has been MoRST’s very energetic Japan/NZ science coordinator, Dr Seishi Gomibuchi, whose knowledge of the science scene in both countries has been invaluable.