Tools and Instrumentation for Nanotechnology

Published - Apr 2004| Analyst - Nathan Tinker| Code - NAN029A
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Report Highlights

  • The total market for instrumentation and tools for nanotechnology will exceed $700 million, rising from the 2003 figure of $199.2 million at an AAGR (average annual growth rate) of 22.4%.
  • Atomic force microscopes dominate the sector. They are expensive, but have applications in almost every nanotech field. Microscopy is expected to expand at an AAGR of 18% to $428.7 million in 2008.
  • At an AAGR of 55.7%, nanolithography systems feature the highest growth rate for the sector. This is a very new technology, and its real impact will not be felt for perhaps a decade. .
  • Modeling and simulation, while also relatively new to nanotechnology, will grow at a pace closer to industrial averages of about 9%.


Nanotechnology tools and instruments are the hardware, software and supplies used to measure and manipulate structures on the nanoscale. They include microscopes, probes, lithography systems, manipulation and fabrication systems, software and other accessories.

Rarely are these instruments unique to nanotechnologies. Most of them were developed in other industries, especially in semiconductors and chipmaking, where submicron manufacturing principles have fueled the communications explosion. Chemistry, physics, biology and materials science also have had a significant impact, and it is in this interdisciplinarity that nanotechnology is unique.

This BCC report focuses on tools and instrumentation for nanotechnology, i.e., the technologies, products and applications that are allowing scientists and people alike to do the work of nanotechnology. Every aspect of basic nanoscale science as well as commercial production of nanotechnologies depends on the capacity of instruments and tools to measure, sense, fabricate and manipulate matter at the nanoscale.

These are all new markets and research facilities, whether for basic or applied science, and corporate research divisions are the major customers. The next few years, however, will witness a new industry emerge, as industries begin to see the cost benefits of nanotechnology to the bottom line. The earliest beneficiaries will be the life sciences and semiconductor industries that by their very nature, already are dealing with nanoscale environments. The integration of second- and third-generation instruments and tools will mark the beginning of an industrial paradigm shift.


The report contains:

  • A technology overview that gives broad details of instrumentation and tools, along with some of their characteristics and technical aspects
  • A description of the instrumentation industry, including profiles of some of the key players
  • A description of tools and instruments by type
  • An examination of the markets for instruments, including future trends and forecasts to 2008
  • A review of patent and IP issues, including a review of the patent infringement suit that Veeco has brought against Asylum Research
  • A listing of more than 80 companies in the nanotechnology instrumentation field.


This report is the end result of 4 months of concerted effort by the author. The primary sources of information for writing this report came from interviews with several dozen people in industry, academia, and the government. The author also attended meetings and conferences, and much precious insight was gained from these sources as well. Many of the people interviewed are recognized authorities in the field and provided invaluable assistance, and the author would like to thank all who took the time to offer their help with this project. Secondary sources used for this report include a number of publications by the federal government, plus items gleaned from the Internet, corporate literature, and publications in the peer-reviewed literature.


Nathan Tinker is co-founder and Executive Vice President of the Nano Alliance. Nathan has authored more than 20 market and industry analyses and reports, including "Carbon Nanotubes: Worldwide Status and Outlook," "Small Tech Sensors: US Markets, Applications and Forecasts," and "Quantum Dot and Semiconductor Nanocrystal Patent Survey." He is an advisor to "The Nanotechnology Opportunity Report" and PBS's "Nanotechnology" documentary series. Nathan is a frequent speaker at nanotechnology events, conferences and symposia and holds a Ph.D. from Fordham University in the Bronx.

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