Published - Dec 2004| Analyst - Andrew McWilliams| Code - NAN035A
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Report Highlights

  • In 2004, total global nanosensor sales are estimated at $190 million and are expected to rise at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 25.5% to $592 million by 2009.
  • In 2003, the nanosensors market mainly consisted of nanochemical sensors (chiefly ultrasensitive gas sensors), nanobiosensors (nano-LC systems) and nanoforce sensors (scanning probe microscopes).
  • Nanochemical and nonbiosensors will grow significantly through 2009, at AAGRs of 53.1% and 32.9%, respectively.
  • Nanomotion and nanoradiation sensors are not expected to account for a large portion of the market while nanothermal sensors are not projected to achieve any commercial sales during the period.


Nanotechnology generally is defined as the creation and use of materials, devices and systems through the manipulation of matter at scales of less than 100 nanometers or 0.0000001 of a meter (i.e., about the size of three atoms). At this scale, the properties that characterize larger systems do not necessarily apply. Nanostructured metals are generally harder than macroscale metals, nanoceramics are softer, etc. Nanoscale materials’ light absorption properties also differ from macroscale materials, e.g., some materials become transparent if the particles are small enough.

Since many of the properties that sensors are supposed to measure are formed on the molecular or atomic level, nanotechnology has obvious sensing applications. Sensors constructed at the molecular scale would be extremely sensitive, selective, and responsive and thus, the impact of nanotechnology on sensors potentially is huge.

This BCC report provides entrepreneurs, investors and others with information on existing and future nanosensor technologies and applications, and assesses their commercial potential. Specific objectives include identifying segments of the nanosensor market with the greatest commercial potential in the near-to mid-term (2004-2009), projecting future demand in these segments, and evaluating the challenges that must be overcome for each segment to realize its full potential.

The report is intended especially for sensor manufacturers, entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists and other readers with a need to know where the nanosensor market is headed in the next five years. Its findings and conclusions also should be of interest to the broader nanotechnology community.


The report contains:

  • Definitions of sensors and technologies
  • Milestones in the development of nanosensors
  • Current and potential nanosensor applications
  • Applications and end-user segments with the greatest commercial potential through 2009
  • Global nanosensor market trends, 2003- 2009
  • Factors that will influence long-term development of the market
  • Market shares and industry structure.


The specific methodologies and assumptions used to develop the market projections are described below under Detailed Market Estimates and Projections. This section includes some general observations concerning the report's approach to estimating the market for developmental technologies whose commercial potential generally has not been demonstrated.

Projecting the market for emerging technologies such as many nanosensor applications, whose commercial potential has not yet been proven, is a challenging task. This report uses a multi-phase approach to identify the applications with the greatest commercial potential and quantify the market for these applications, as described below.

In the first phase of the analysis, we identified a "long list" of nanosensor technologies (including technologies that are still under development) and mapped them against potential applications, such as the biomedical industries, process industries, and automotive applications.

In the second phase, we eliminated those technologies that appear to have little likelihood of making it into commercial production in the next five years, through a literature review and statements by industry sources. The result of phase two was a "short list" of technologies and applications with the greatest near to mid-term commercial potential.

The third phase focused on quantifying the potential market for each short-listed nanosensor technology application and identifying the main prerequisites for commercial success. Various methodologies and data sources were used to develop the projections, including trend line projections, input-output analysis, and estimates of future demand from industry sources.


The author of this report is Andrew McWilliams. Mr. McWilliams, a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm of 43rd Parallel LLC., is the author of a number of other Communications Company studies. In particular, he has written several other studies of nanotechnology-related opportunities, i.e., GB-290 Nanotechnology: A Realistic Market Evaluation and GB-281 Nanocatalysts. Other studies by Mr. McWilliams that relate to nanosensors and nanosensors applications include B-186 Patient Monitoring Devices, GB-298 Materials Characterization Instruments, and B-127R Microelectronic Medical Implants: Products, Technologies and Opportunities.

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