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SAN ANTONIO-In another five years, nanotechnology will be a building block for commercial real estate as scientific research moves from the laboratories into production. The evolution has been slower than once anticipated, but in scientific circles the need for bricks and mortar is right around the corner.

“The science is taking some time to get into the market,” says Dr. Miguel Jose Yacaman, the new physics and astronomy chair for the University of Texas at San Antonio. He explains it took nearly two decades for the transistor to make its way into full-fledged production and nanotechnology is following a similar development path. But, he tells GlobeSt.com that when it arrives it will provide American jobs that can’t easily be outsourced and new types of highly specialized commercial space in campus-style clusters.

The world-renowned nanotechnology authority believes San Antonio is destined to be a world leader for the industry’s practical applications and production because it’s virgin territory for the industry unlike Texas’ other metros which have heavy investments in fields like semi-conductors and communications. “Sometimes emerging places have more of a chance to be flexible,” Yacaman points out. “San Antonio is one of the places with the most chance to succeed in this.” He says there are now 50 companies, mostly startups and mostly dedicated to cancer research incubating in the city.

Medical research is at the forefront of the industry or as Yacaman calls it “nano-biotechnology.” As a result, he says it will be critical to keep commercial space close to universities, which effectively eliminates out-of-county out-sourcing at least for the first decade. Likewise, highly qualified employees needed to support the companies present another out-sourcing deterrent.

“It’s going to be a huge market,” Yacaman emphasizes. “We are talking relatively smaller commercial buildings. A nanotechnology factory will be one/tenth the space of a steel factory.” The buildings that result, though, will be costly to produce due to must-haves like liquid nitrogen vacuums and clean rooms. “They have to find ways to make it cheaper in the future,” he says.

Yacaman has been accorded four patents during tenures at the University of Mexico and UT Austin, where he spent the past seven years. He is the former director of the National Institute of Nuclear Research and was deputy director for scientific research of Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology.

“The industrial revolution that’s coming now will be based on nanotechnology,” Yacaman predicts. “This is going to explode. In five years, we will see an explosion of new product in the market.”

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