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Colorado, with a total population of 5,116,796 as of 2011, is part of the Southwestern United States, the Western United States and the Mountain States. Colorado covers a total area of 269,837 km2.
Colorado has a diverse economy, with a strong focus on high-technology industries and scientific research. Other significant industries include chemical products, food processing, transportation equipment, mining and machinery.
Colorado’s 2010 GDP based on estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis was $257.6 billion and per capita personal income was $51,940 with Denver being a significant financial center and the federal government playing a key role in the state’s economy.
Universities and companies in Colorado are making tremendous efforts to promote the significance of nanotechnology through various research programs, workshops, and outreach schemes. There is a strong community around nanotechnology research in the region, which has number of important discoveries and novel products.
A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organizations in Colorado is given below:
Colorado Nanotechnology Alliance - A non-profit organization that focuses on promoting the significance of nanotechnology to various government organizations, industries, educational institutions and the people of Colorado. Its chief concern is to enhance Colorado’s business growth related to nanotechnology.
DARPA Center on Nanoscale Science and Technology for Integrated Micro/Nano-Electromechanical Transducers (iMINT) - The core research areas in iMINT include:
Nanotube fabrication, assembly & characterization
Nanowire fabrication, assembly & characterization
Nanotube/nanowire modeling and reliability
Atomic layer deposition
MEMS and assembly
The major nanotechnology-related companies in Colorado are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:
Synkera Technologies, Inc - Synkera specializes in advanced materials engineering and the application of their materials to novel devices for chemical sensing, analytical chemistry, gas/liquid separations, renewable energy, and many other fields. They are committed to bringing unique and valuable solutions to market by leveraging their intellectual property and high-quality manufacturing capabilities, as well as developing strategic partnerships.
Synkera houses a large research facility that includes capabilities for advanced materials characterization (e.g., SEM, FT-IR), clean room manufacturing, wet chemistry labs, and various micro-/nanofabrication platforms (e.g. atomic layer deposition, CVD, electrodeposition, nanotemplates).
ALD Nanosolutions - This Colorado-based company has developed state of the art ALD techniques that have resulted in over 50 industrial partnerships. The company has also introduced a variant of the Particle ALD™ process called Polymer ALD™ through which is it possible to deposit inorganic nanocoatings on either polymer particles or substrates, independent of the chemistry or shape of the polymer.
ALD NanoSolutions has developed reactors ranging from pilot to small production scale that can produce nanocoated particles. The company is able to increase its reactor capacity 10X depending on customer demand.
Some of the leading academic institutes in Colorado offering courses and research programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology are listed below:
University of Colorado-Boulder - Promotes the significance of nanotechnology through following research facilities and laboratories.
Nanomaterials Characterization Facility - Provides education on nanotechnology and also provides access to various nanotechnology instruments. Some of their significant nanotechnology instruments include:
Low-vacuum electron microscope
Dual beam FIB
Field-emission electron microscope
Confocal laser scanning microscope
NanoPhotonic System Laboratory - Focuses on designing devices using a ranhge of new physical principles in photonics, nanomechanics, quantum and solid-state electronics and nanophotonics. Research is conducted on the following topics:
Advanced CMOS photonic integration
Nonlinear and quantum photonics
Colorado Nanofabrication Laboratory - A member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN), the Nanofabrication Laboratory supports interdisciplinary research in MEMS, microelectronics and optoelectronics and provides nanotechnology instrumentation and technological expertise for researchers in academia and industry.
Arapahoe Community College - The Biology Department provides a program on Nanotechnology that includes community outreach presentation on nanotechnology and nanotechnology workshops for middle school children and high school teachers.
The strong research community in Colorado regularly produces innovative new discoveries in the field of nanotechnology.
One such recent discovery, by an international research team including scientists from the Colorado School of Mines, is the synthesis of gold/mesoporous silica nanocomposites, with gold nanoparticles embedded in the walls of mesoporous silica. This new catalyst shows good catalytic activity and good stability relative to conventional gold catalysts, even after being exposed to high temperatures.
The Yin Research Lab at the University of Colorado recently reported using NanoSight’s Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) technique to characterize biological nanoparticles such as microvesicles. The Yin Research Lab focuses on the study of microvesicles as biomarkers of cancer metastasis and tumor progression.
With the current rate of nanotechnology discoveries coming out of the state of Colorado, the region is likely to experience rapid growth in nanotechnology in the next few years, which the industrial and research community will be keen to capitalize on.