x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Centre aims to put Arabia on the technological map

The RAK Centre for Advanced Materials, a 10,000 square metre facility near Emirates Road, is expected to be operational within two years.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The Arab world wasn't responsible for the microchip. Or the internet. Or any of the major technological innovations of the 20th century. But a research centre in Ras al Khaimah is hoping this century will be different, and is taking aim at two areas in particular: nanotechnology and alternative energy. The RAK Centre for Advanced Materials, a 10,000 square metre facility near Emirates Road, is expected to be operational within two years.

It will be staffed by up to 80 people, including 40 full-time researchers. Nanotechnology involves the manipulation of material at the molecular level. Scientists have theorised that it has many spectacular potential applications. A researcher at Stanford University in the US, for instance, has found a way to make lightweight paper batteries by dipping ordinary paper in a special ink infused with nanoparticles.

Dr Samy el Shall, the centre's director, said it was doing a lot of work on developing new materials for solar cells: "For example, instead of 12 per cent conversion, we are looking for something that will be much higher, like 30 per cent." Innovations in structural materials, polymers and natural minerals are also in the works. "One of our objects is to produce a ceramic that's flexible," he said.

azacharias@thenational.ae