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Posted on February 29, 2012

The Asian Research Network: a collaboration to boost science

Hanyang University of Korea and RIKEN of Japan, in cooperation with other Asian universities and research institutes, are launching the Asian Research Network (ARN) which aims to strengthen research and educational cooperation across Asia. Recently ARN members succeeded in producing transparent touch sensors using carbon nanotubes and ink solutions that can print electronic circuits or change colour in exposure to heat or UV radiation.
The spirit of cooperation is aiding research productivity across Asia. Take for example Choi Eunsuk and colleagues who recently announced that they had made a transparent touch sensor using carbon nanotube thin films (Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, vol. 11, 2011). These films are optically transparent and electrically conductive in thin layers. The applications are enormous, think of flexible electronic interfaces such as "e-paper", or television screens that you can roll up.
Similarly, Jong-Man Kim and his team have managed to devise an ink solution that can repeatedly change colour upon exposure to heat or UV radiation. Their results in the Journal of Advanced Materials (Vol. 23, 2011) open the possibility of printing electronic circuits on paper. Being able to integrate such circuitry into lightweight, disposable materials such as paper using simple 'inkjet' technology is of great interest to manufacturers.
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Professor Haiwon Lee, Director of the Institute of Nanoscience and Technology at Hanyang University in South Korea has spent decades building up research alliances across Asia. What started as an initial alliance between two universities now incorporates dozens of organisations across Asia including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Samsung Electronics, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and the National University of Singapore to name but a few. ARN members from across Asia work together at the 'Fusion Technology Center' in Seoul, South Korea.
Many would be satisfied with these achievements. For Lee however, it is just the start. The alliance needs to go across and beyond Asia. "The idea is to exchange information and relationships at a high level," he explains. "Our aim is to build a borderless research environment."