Australia has no formal national nanotechnology initiative, though a series of national networks and programs have been established to bring together relevant research.There is significant government investment in Australian nanotechnology research from the Australian Research Council and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization as well as funding from state governments. Over 50 Australian companies claim to be working in 'nanotechnology'.
The NanoHouse™ Initiative, conceived in 2002 by Dr Carl Masens at the Institute for Nanoscale Technology and visualised and implemented by architect James Muir, has proven a successful method of explaining what nanotechnologies are and how they work; for example, how the latest technology windows clean themselves, how tiles might resist build up of soap scum, or timber surfaces resist UV damage.
In the building industry, nanotechnology provides a whole new palette of materials that could potentially have profound affects on building design.
For instance, in the near future, glass can be used more liberally if it is optically tuned to block heat and UV. It would be possible to construct a building with many more, larger windows than is currently viable, since heat can be kept out and UV photo-damage prevented.
Reduction of the solar heat gain through windows reduces the need for cooling via air conditioning, saving electricity. In certain parts of a building, solar thermal radiation is welcome, such as the exterior surface of a thermal mass. People are familiar with the use of dark colours to capture heat, but dark walls are ugly so, unsurprisingly, they rarely appear in house designs. There are nanotechnological solutions to the same problem: for example heat absorbent nano-particulate paints that are light-coloured in the visible part of the spectrum.
Australian household applications utilising nanotechnology extend beyond building materials and include clear sunscreens (Advanced Powder Technologies), supercapacitors for laptops and phones (Cap - XX) and smart paints (Dulux/Orica).