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Media Release

December 12 2007

Big things in small packages

Science Minister Paul Caica and Laureate Prof John Ralston with the micro chequeInstead of struggling beneath a massive bit of cardboard, Science Minister Paul Caica today presented Laureate Professor John Ralston a microscopic cheque for $2 million.

It was an entirely appropriate way to mark the State Government’s contribution to the new $8 million Microfluidics and Nano-Fabrication Facility at UniSA’s Ian Wark Research Institute [The Wark™].

The facility is the South Australian node of the Australian Nano Fabrication Facility Limited, and will play a vital role in the design and manufacture of microchips for chemical, biological and clinical applications.

Professor Ralston, Director of The Wark™ and 2007 South Australian of the Year and South Australia Scientist of the Year, said the facility will draw on the Wark™’s knowledge and research experience, and will enhance its state-of-the-art research facilities.

“The work we can do in this 21st century laboratory will contribute to smart solutions that improve environmental outcomes, deliver drugs more efficiently, and contribute to the evolution of future clever products – some that we haven’t even dreamed of yet,” Prof Ralston said.

“By making the processes behind everything from pharmaceutical products to mining and even forensic science faster, more efficent and cheaper, nanotechnology is going to change the way we live our daily lives.

“Coupling this Facility with the Wark™’s existing research strengths in fundamental interfacial and chemical science is unique.”

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said the new facility is a tribute to Prof Ralston’s pioneering scientific leadership and further proof of the University’s status as a leading-edge research institution.

“Thanks to Prof Ralston and his team of dedicated researchers, The Wark™ already enjoys an enviable reputation worldwide,” Prof Høj said. “This reputation is built on great science and great returns to investors. For example, one long-running project has been estimated by independent experts to have added $436 million value to the minerals industry.

“The creation of the Microfluidics and Nano-Fabrication Facility at our Mawson Lakes campus consolidates that reputation and serves as an example of our University-wide research capacity.”

The Microfluidics and Nano-Fabrication Facility will get $2 million in Federal Government funding through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. UniSA matches the total public funding with a $4 million investment. It is anticipated the Facility will open by the end of 2008.

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