DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Philippines is "still in dire need" of nanotechnology experts who can lead in planning and implementing research and development (R&D) projects, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said on Wednesday.

These nanotech experts will also lead in planning and implementing packaging technologies for adoption, as well dissemination to potential beneficiaries, he added.

In a Viber message, he said the country is making great progress, as the DOST has inked a partnership with Mapua University on Tuesday night for the implementation of the graduate program called PhD in Materials Science with specialization in nanotechnology.

"This is a significant undertaking as we formally launch a pioneering program for advanced studies in nanotechnology, which we gladly want to support under our scholarship offerings," de la Peña said.

Nanotech, according to him, has various applications, such as in medicine, energy, agriculture, food production and safety, space science, semiconductors and electronics, and information technology, among others.

"Over the years, (the DOST has) initiated several collaborations between leading universities and research institutions, both locally and internationally. These mostly focused on semiconductors, agricultural applications, food safety, pest control, and medicinal applications," he said, adding that nanotechnology's potential continues to widen in different fields.

"Hence, we need to push for more programs for its development. This scholarship program for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Material Science with specialization in Nanotechnology is yet another milestone that we can include in our growing nanotech portfolio. This is also the first 'PhD by Research' program supported by the DOST," the DOST chief continued.

Under the partnership, the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) will provide guidance on research areas for the students' dissertation. It will also provide technical assistance, as well as the facilities for research work.

On the other hand, the Science Education Institute (SEI) will help Mapua University to screen and recruit qualified students for the program. The SEI will also provide financial support.

"Mapua University, as the pioneering institution to offer (this program), shall have the opportunity to implement the program as designed, and constantly improve on it," de la Peña said.

The program aims to give technical knowledge and hands-on training to graduate students in the conduct of their research projects on nanotechnology.

Further, it aims to increase joint academic and scientific activities such as symposia or lectures.

The DOST and Mapua University will jointly pursue publication of results in technical journals. The two will also jointly evaluate the results of this program, and plan on how to further strengthen this, he said. (PNA)