A memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a joint Israel-Italy nanotechnology lab was signed this week. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and the LENS Institute for Atomic Physics in Italy will conduct research on "cold atoms" and nano-photons. The Italian institute is considered one of the leading research centers in this field in Europe and the world. The lab was the initiative of the Italian Embassy in Israel and meant as a gesture for Israel's 60th Independence Day, with an investment of €250,000. The memorandum of agreement was signed by Prof. Massimo Inguscio, a world-renowned Italian atomic and nanotechnology physicist and Weizmann Institute Prof. Nir Davidson, one of Israel's leading researchers in the field. Davidson said the joint lab is likely to produce advanced applications for both civilian and military purposes such as atomic clocks, devices for exact measurement that would improve the performance of GPS (global positioning systems) navigation, geological mapping as those for searching for oil, predicting earthquakes and even the development of a quantum computer for simulations and trial-and-error processes. An Italian-Israel scientific and technological forum has been meeting at Tel Aviv's David Intercontinental Hotel, with some 30 senior visitors from Italy and their Israeli counterparts discussing plans, including the possibility of establishing a binational fund. Israel already has binational funds for research and development with the US and Germany. An agreement signed by representatives of the two countries in 2000 that went into effect two years later is the basis for existing cooperation in scientific research and development. Since then, 30 projects have been carried out by scientists from the two countries with €6 million of funding from the Italian government. If a binational fund is indeed established, it is expected to work on long-term development of alternative energy, water, food, agriculture, climate and nanotechnology and bring about the introduction of "revolutionary" new technologies that require a great deal of research.