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Nanotechnology in Utah, USA: Market Report

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Introduction
Nanotechnology Companies
Nanotechnology Research and Education
Recent Developments

Introduction

Utah is located in the western part of the United States. It covers a total area of 219,887 km2 and has a population of 2,855,287 as of 2012.

Utah’s 2011 GSP was $124.5 billion based on estimates by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The largest contributor to the local economy is the manufacturing sector which is responsible for about 14% of their GSP. They also have the 6th most diverse economy in the nation with industries such as tourism, transportation, information technology and research, education, government services, salt production, mining and cattle ranching all making contributions to the local economy.

In 2012, Utah topped the Forbes Magazine, Best State for Business and Careers rankings for the third year in a row. Other reasons that might attract businesses to relocate or set up in Utah include:

  • Tax rebate incentoives for companies who create jobs
  • 2nd fastest growing economy in the US
  • Corporate tax rate that has stayed the same for the last 15 years
  • 10 consecutive years of export growth

Nanotechnology Companies

The major nanotechnology-related companies in Utah are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:

Navillum Nanotechnologies - Navillum Nanotechnologies, LLC is a chemical manufacturing company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. They have developed and patented an innovative method for fabricating quantum dots (QDs) and other types of semiconducting nanocrystals on a commercial scale. The market for quantum dots is set to explode over the next several years, growing from $67M in sales in 2010 to $676M by 2015.  At Navillum, they believe they have the solution to bridge this gap so that quantum dot applied technology can ultimately and finally be brought to market. As a result, Navillum is poised to become a key market supplier to end-use application manufacturers.

Intelligent Enclosures Corp - Intelligent Enclosures (iE) has developed leading edge environmental control solutions, and gained practical experience in manufacturing MiniEnvironments which achieve levels of control not previously possible.

iE works collaboratively with major semiconductor manufacturers, tool builders, research organizations, universities, and technology start-ups to conceive, design and manufacture cutting edge MiniEnvironments that enable their customers to achieve their goals. These include developing sub-32nm node processes, creating laser gratings with nanometer precision spacings, or developing microscopes for analyzing substances at the sub-atomic level.

iE develops engineering and design solutions using computational fluid dynamics [CFD] and 3D parametric modeling software, which allows them to work collaboratively with their customer to create an environmental solution for their needs.

Nano-Oxides - Nano-Oxides, Inc. is working on a patented technology for the synthesis of nanosized oxide powders by molecular decomposition. They are able to produce a wide range of metal oxide powders such as TiO2, CeO2, SnO2, BaTiO3, SrTiO3, Fe2O3 and Fe3O4 and can also custom synthesize new compositions.

Nano-Oxides, Inc. has several reactors for the synthesis of nano powders by using proprietary techniques. Nano-Oxides, Inc. has access to a multi-purpose cleanroom facility with approximately 5,300 ft2 of laboratory floor space which provides the clean environment necessary for semiconductor materials and device research, micromachining, microfabrication, and semiconductor materials systems research.

Nano-Oxides has an active research team that is continuously innovating and seeking new applications in areas such as catalysis, transparent functional coatings, and nano-porous layers for sensors and membranes.

Nano-Partz - Nanopartz™ is recognized as both an innovator and a quality supplier of gold nanoparticle based products including Accurate™ spherical gold nanoparticles, gold nanorods, micron sized gold (Microgold™), gold nanowires, fluorescent carbon nanoparticles and the newly released constructs: Ramanprobes™ and Plasmonic Fluorophores™.

Nanopartz™ also offers platinum and palladium coated gold nanoparticles. Products developed at Nanopartz™ constitute an essential core technology for the life sciences in diagnostics, imaging, and therapeutics - particularly cancer.

In other fields, Nanopartz™ products are well suited for sensors, solar cells, liquid crystals, non-linear optics, polarizers, negative refractive index materials, standards, catalytics, and as robust subcomponents in electronics.

Nanopartz™ offers products for the researcher as well as the materials manufacturer.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Some of the leading academic institutes in Utah offering courses and research programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology are listed below:

University of Utah - Offers a nanotechnology training programs to graduate students from different disciplines enabling them to handle the interdisciplinary challenges needed to integrate nanotechnology in a successful manner. The university also has several research centers promoting the study and awareness of nanotechnology. The research centers in the University of Utah are listed below:

  • Utahnanofab: Conducts advanced research in nanotechnology and provides nanofabrication facilities, staff and infrastructure to industry and academia. Utahnanofab offers courses on solar cell design, microfluidics, surface analysis, semiconductor device physics and micromachining.
  • Nano Institute of Utah: Brings together engineers, scientists and clinicians from all over the state to study the challenges in nanotechnology and nanoscience. This institute provides  research facilities to researchers from different fields such as pharmacy, chemistry, engineering, physics, medicine and biology in order to develop synergistic alliances for  promoting high quality research, commercialization and education of nanotechnology.         
  • Utah Center for Nanomedicine: Focuses on providing expertise and promoting collaborations for design, development and clinical translation of nanosystems that are used for diagnostic and therapeutic requirements. 
  • Utah Center for NanoBioSensors: Focuses on the development of ultra-sensitive  chemical and biological sensors that can be applied to the exploration of nanomaterials and in process such as signal detection, sample collection and strategy preparation. This center also seeks funding for interdisciplinary research in nanobiosensors and promotes commercialization of new discoveries in the area of nanobiosensors.
  • Utah Center for Nanomaterials: Studies materials with nanoscale morphological features. The center’s nanotechnology-based research projects are listed below:
    • Perfluorocarbon nanoparticles
    • Fluorescent Gold
    • Intracellular pH detection
    • Detection of Reactive Oxygen Species in tissues
    • Nanoparticle-Supported Molecular Brush
    • Interference of Nanoparticles in Toxicity Assays
  • Advanced Metrology and Nano-Device Applications (AMANDA): A research lab that focuses on the development of  self-repairing and self-assembly circuits, nanometrology tools and non-destructive testing techniques. The key research areas include
    • Microwave technologies for nanometrology
    • Non-volatile memory devices
    • Molecular electronics
    • Microfluidics
    • Nanoparticles
    • Carbon nanotubes
    • NEMS
    • MEMS
  • Nano-optics and molecular biophysics: The Department of Physics and Astronomy’s nano-optics and molecular biophysics group focuses on the study of basic interactions between matter and light at the nanometer scale and also on molecular-scale biological systems through nanometer-scale optical microscopy techniques.

Recent Developments

A researcher from the University of Utah recently invented a new detection material used to sniff out explosives with the help of a highly absorbing nanowire called “net”. The nanowire net has the capability of detecting vapors from explosives from the air because of its range, sensitivity and unique speed.

In March of 2013, The University of Utah's nanofabrication facility secured a $200,000 grant from the W.M. Keck foundation to provide engineering education materials about length scales to students at the University of Utah, community colleges and four other colleges across the nation.

A research team from Brigham Young University recently developed microstructures that are capable of forming tall, precise and narrow 3-D shapes – characteristics. These researchers developed the carbon nanotube templated microfabrication (CNT-M) process that uses carbon nanotube arrays known as ‘forests’. These carbon nanotube arrays  are used as a 3-D microfabrication scaffold by researchers to form microstructures that are fine-featured, precise and tall. This CNT-M framework was thus used by this team to fabricate metal components that provide appropriate properties for MEMS components and applications.

With so many departments involved with nanotechnology, it seems clear that the University of Utah has identified the potential of this field.The level of involvement would indicate that developments should also be proportionate, so this university should be watched for new nanotechnology discoveries that will hopefully result in commercial results, like Navillum Nanotechnologies which was spun out of the University of Utah using technology derived from there.

References

  1. United States Census Bureau - Utah Quick Facts
  2. Widespread Economic Growth Across States in 2011 (PDF)
  3. Utah GDP
  4. Forbes Magazine - Best State for Business and Careers
  5. Keck Grant for Utah Nanofab

 

Date Added: May 14, 2013 | Updated: Jun 7, 2013
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