Nanoparticle Industry Review

Published - Jun 2003| Analyst - Mindy Rittner| Code - NAN004D
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INTRODUCTION

Defined broadly, the term nanostructured is used to describe materials characterized by structural features of less than 100 nm in average size. All of the nanostructured materials covered in this review are inorganic polycrystalline materials composed of crystallites of less than approximately 100 nm in diameter. Nanostructured materials may be produced in the form of dry powders, liquid dispersions, coatings, and consolidated materials.

This anthology keeps readers abreast of the rapid technology developments that characterize the fine, ultrafine and nano powder industry. It covers breaking technology developments and industry news in:

  • Novel processing techniques
  • New products
  • Emerging applications
  • Recent patents
  • Government contracts
  • Technology transfer
  • Research and development
  • Market trend

2002: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

The unique chemical, electronic, magnetic, optical, and other properties of nanoscale (sub-100 nm) particles have led to their evaluation and use in a broad range of industries, including biotechnology, catalysis, data storage, energy storage, microelectronics, and others. Today nanoparticles are used in a variety of commercial products, ranging from magnetic recording films and chemical-mechanical planarization (CMP) slurries to sunscreen products and wear-resistant coatings.

WHO TEAMED UP WITH WHOM?

The 2001 trend of partnerships continued into 2002, with over 30 companies in the nano joining forces to advance a technology or market a product.

A number of nanocompanies formed alliances with Asian firms during 2002, including Nanosys, Inc., which entered into a collaborative agreement with Matsushita Electric Works to develop solar cells for the Asian building materials market based on Nanosys' "proprietary inorganic nanocrystal and nanocomposite technologies." Carbon Nanotechnologies joined forces with Sumitomo Corp. to market carbon nanotubes in Asia.

Nanosphere, Inc. teamed up with Takara Bio, Inc., a Japanese biotechnology company, to develop and distribute detection systems based on Nanosphere's nanoparticle-based DNA probes and Takara's gene amplification technology. In another biotech pairing, FeRx, Inc. established a research collaboration with the National Cancer Center Research Institute of Japan to develop a tumor-targeted gene transfer approach using FeRx's magnetic targeted carrier technology.

In the spring, NanoProducts Corp. announced an alliance with Hosokawa Micron Corp. to jointly commercialize nanoparticles and nanoparticle handling, processing, and manufacturing technology, and a few months later signed an agreement with unnamed Japanese polymer manufacturer to commercialize plastic nanocomposite products with enhanced mechanical properties for automotive, electronic and other applications. Shortly thereafter Nanocor, Inc. entered into an agreement with Mitsubishi Gas Chemical for the manufacture and sale of high-barrier nanocomposite plastics for consumer and industrial packaging applications.

Inframat Corp. moved into China by establishing a thermal spray joint venture called Shanghai Dahao Inframat Nanomaterials & Thermal Spray Co., Ltd. with partner Shanghai Dahao Enterprise Investment (Group) Co., Ltd. The focus of the venture is nanoscale and conventional powders for hardmetal coatings, including tungsten carbide-cobalt nanocomposites.

Outside of Asia, NTera, Ltd. of Dublin, Ireland, teamed up with Densitron of the U.K. to develop paper quality electronic displays using NTera's NanoChromics display technology, and jointly filed a patent related to battery technology with Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc. Nanogate Technologies GmbH of Germany joined forces with the Holmenkol division of Loba, also of Germany, to form Holmenkol Sport-Technologies GmbH & Co. KG, which will produce innovative sports coatings, including ski wax, that exploit Nanogate's chemical nanotechnology.

Last summer, Nanophase Technologies teamed up with chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP) slurry producer Rodel, Inc. to develop and market new CMP products using Nanophase's nanoparticles. At around the same time, DuPont Air Products NanoMaterials (DA Nanomaterials) announced a similar alliance with Motorola for the development of new slurries for copper polishing applications in the semiconductor industry.

WHERE DID INVESTORS PUT THEIR CASH?

At least a dozen nanomaterials companies benefited from venture capital and private investment during 2002.

NeoPhotonics, which is commercializing nanomaterials-based active and passive integrated planar optical components, completed an equity funding round of $25 million last March and generated a total of $35 million upon completion of the final tranche a few months later. Investors included Bay Partners, Venrock Associates, Rockport Capital Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, SBV Venture Partners, Linkmore Capital, Harris & Harris Group, Nth Power Technologies, Hydro Quebec CapiTech, Sands Brothers, Groupe Siparex, XR Ventures and Dow Corning Corp.

Biotech firm FeRx Inc. closed a $15 million private placement of preferred stock last summer with new investors Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. and GE Capital co-leading the round. Nanomix, Inc., which is developing energy storage and electronic devices based on carbon nanotubes, netted $9 million in a Series B financing round led by Apax Partners and Sevin Rosen Funds last fall, and Nanophase Technologies Corp. reaped a gross equity investment of $6.85 million mid-year from several institutional and accredited investors.

Nanotechnologies, Inc. closed its second round of funding after raising $6.3 million from venture capital firms Techxas Ventures, Castletop Capital, Convergent Investors VI, Harris & Harris Group, Inc., and Capital Conceptions, and U.K.-based Oxonica generated $6 million from its first round of institutional investment, with participation by VCF Partners, BASF Venture Capital GmbH, NextGen Partners LLC, Northern Venture Managers and Generics Asset Management Ltd. of The Generics Group on behalf of British Smaller Technology Companies VCT2 Plc.

In addition, NanoOpto Corp., NanoInk, Inc., NanoPierce Technologies, Molecular Nanosystems, and Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc. all received at least $1 million in financing during 2002.

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