Nanotechnology in Virginia, USA: Market Report

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Introduction
Nanotechnology Organisations
Nanotechnology Companies
Nanotechnology Research and Education
Recent Developments

Introduction

Virginia is located in the in the South Atlantic region of the United States of America. As of 2012, the population of the state was 8,185,867. The state covers a total area of 110,785.67 km2.

The economy of Virginia has been growing at a good pace. In 2011, Virginia's total GSP was $428.9 billion. The three main contributors to Virginia's GDP were professional scientific and technical services, real estate and manufacturing. Their manufacturing industry produces everything from steel beams, wood flooring and trucks to semiconductors, robots and rocket engines.

Over 17,300 high tech companies operate out of Virginia. Virginia is also the home to 32 Fortune 1000 companies.

Virginia houses many internationally recognised research and development (R&D) facilities, including 11 federally funded R&D Centers and 20 FLC laboratories. Many of these give private businesses direct access to cutting edge technologies and researchers. These facilities cater for everything from automotive, to medical through to high technology.

Virginia ranks third among the 50 states as a recipient of federal R&D funds.

Nanotechnology Organisations

Virginia has many world-leading organisations and networks committed to promoting nanoscience as well as exploring the challenges and future of nanotechnology. A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organisations in Virginia is given below:

MITRE Corporation – MITRE is a not-for-profit organization chartered to work in the public interest. Since 1992, MITRE's Nanosystems Group has been performing broadly based research and development (R&D) in nanotechnology. They focus on systems engineering that starts at the molecular scale. Their inter- and multi-disciplinary work includes the development of systems such as nanoelectronic computers, nano-enabled energy and power storage devices, and millimeter-scale robots. Their researchers also have access to state-of-the-art facilities in MITRE's Biotechnology and Nanotechnology Lab at their campus in McLean, Virginia.   

Northern Virginia Technology Council – NVTC is the membership and trade association for the technology community in Northern Virginia. It is the largest technology council in the nation serving about 1,000 companies from all sectors of the technology industry. It also caters to service providers, universities, foreign embassies, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies.

Center for Innovative Technology – CIT is a state-chartered, non-profit organization to operate the functions of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority (IEIA), which was established to generate technology-based economic development strategies. Additional areas of CIT focus have included biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information and communications technologies.

Mason Nanotechnology Initiative – The Mason Nanotechnology Initiative opens a space for discussion and planning of activities related to nanoscience and nanotechnology within Mason. Their efforts target the development of new academic programs within the university that contain a strong component of subjects in science, mathematics and engineering, which are fundamental to nanoscience and nanotechnology.

CDRF – CRDF Global is an independent non-profit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, technical resources, training and services.

Nanotechnology Companies

Nanotechnology crosses many traditional boundaries from water treatment and food industry to medicine, information technology and space research. The major nanotechnology companies in Virginia that cater to these diverse sectors are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:

MEMS and Nanotechnology Exchange - MNX is a the world's most diverse and comprehensive MEMS foundry. They have extensive fabrication resources as well as experienced and skilled engineers in the industry to offer help for researchers wanting to quickly and affordably advance their ideas from initial concept to prototype and production.

Luna nanoWorks – Luna nanoWorks is a division of Luna Innovations that is developing pharmaceuticals empowered by carbon nanomaterials. Their mission is to identify and develop novel products to improve the diagnosis, management and treatment of diseases. In their Danville, Virginia facility, Luna has assembled an extraordinarily talented business and technical team with decades of development, commercialization and manufacturing expertise. Additionally, the company is supported by a scientific advisory board consisting of recognized experts in the field of nanotechnology and nanomaterials, including Dr. Harold Kroto on the team of scientists who achieved the Nobel prize in the discovery of the Buckminster fullerene, or "buckyball".

Luna NanoMaterials – Luna NanoMaterials are innovators, engineers, researchers and developers of technology; driving breakthroughs in fields as diverse as healthcare, telecommunications, energy, and defense. Their innovations begin with excellence in research and develops into technologies that can be effectively commercialised. With more than 100 patents, their technologists push innovation to the edge of imagination and they are recognised as leaders in transforming science into solutions.

Among their innovations:

  • Sensing systems that improve manufacturing and testing of composite materials
  • Fiber optic shape and position sensing technology to improve minimally-invasive surgical systems
  • Secure computing technology that safeguards the nation by ensuring weapons systems are safe and mission-ready

Nano Interface Technology Inc.NITI was incorporated in 1998. Their mission is “Innovation in the Nano-biotechnology and Nanotechnology.” They are a pioneering research organisation committed to developing novel nanotechnologies in the areas of biotechnology, material sciences and the drug delivery. One of the major scientific challenges for the material scientists has been the development of processes that can help control the ultra-homogeneity in material properties at a molecular level. They plan to commercialise their products by licensing technologies and developing products for the private companies. Most of their technologies are proprietary and are protected by the current patent law.

NanoSonic Inc. - Nanosonic specializes in the design and manufacture of innovative materials, especially new materials that are currently unavailable in the commercial market place. They develop revolutionary new molecular self-assembly processes that allow the controlled synthesis of material structures at the nanometer level. They also manufacture new materials that are designed with novel and useful engineering constitutive behaviors. Most of their materials are developed using a process that is environmentally benign.

NanoMarkets LC - NanoMarkets is the leading provider of industry analysis and market and technology research services for companies competing for or interested in thin film, organic and printable electronics related markets. Since its inception, NanoMarkets has published dozens of highly regarded comprehensive research reports on topics related to materials and substrates, manufacturing processes, devices and applications.

Materials Modification Inc. -MMI was founded in 1986 and has been involved in cutting-edge research projects for federal agencies and private industry. MMI's Scientists and Engineers have developed several novel materials and processes by exploring creative solutions to tough engineering problems using their diverse backgrounds. This interdisciplinary approach has helped MMI perform research in difficult areas, where traditional approaches have been unsuccessful. MMI is a pioneer in the field of nanomaterials and coatings technology.

AdvanceTEC - AdvanceTEC is a leader in cleanroom design and cleanroom construction, serving clients in the nanotechnology, microelectronics, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Since its founding in 2000, AdvanceTEC has successfully constructed facilities for research, pilot production and high volume manufacturing applications. AdvanceTEC works with leading technology companies, general contractors, architectural engineering firms, lab planners and developers to estimate, value engineer, design and construct state-of-the-art cleanrooms. Their services range from full turn-key design/build to plan to spec construction only scopes of work.

4Wave - 4Wave provides plasma processing equipment, thin film coatings, milling equipment and services to meet challenging vacuum equipment and thin film processing needs. Using its atomic layer processing capabilities, 4Wave also offers multilayer device fabrication and miniature optical components. Based in Sterling, Virginia, just minutes from Washington Dulles Airport, 4Wave serves clients worldwide.

MikroSystemsMikro is a high-technology manufacturing company located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Since opening their doors in 2001, they have grown quickly, expanding both their team and customer base.  Their customers are international, high-technology companies, as well as government and academic divisions. Using their patented TOMOSM manufacturing technology, they partner with these organisations to develop higher-performance products and improve their product development and manufacturing processes. In a time of exponential innovation, Mikro is committed to helping its customers develop cutting-edge products through investment in research and development and the creation of new intellectual property. As a global-minded company offering a highly versatile technology, they work with organisations in all parts of the world and participate in the Accessing International Markets (AIM) program, sponsored by The Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Ceres Nanosciences - Ceres Nanosciences provides breakthrough research platforms and diagnostic products using its unique and proprietary Nanotrap® capture particle technology. Ceres leverages the powerful Nanotrap® technology to meet the critical demands of the life sciences industry.

NanoFocus – NanoFocus is a pioneering technology leader offering a new generation of high-precision optical 3D surface analysis tools for laboratory and production applications. The company is revolutionising the surface analysis market with its user-friendly, robust, economical instruments. Scientific and industrial users successfully use our systems for the three-dimensional mapping and inspection of micrometer and nanometre surface structures. The NanoFocus product range includes outstanding hardware solutions combined with powerful software packages.

First Ten Ångstroms - First Ten Ångstroms designs and manufactures specialty scientific instrumentation, with sophisticated software. The parent firm was incorporated in 1984. The FTA200 Dynamic Contact Angle Analyzer was introduced in 1995, and followed earlier custom instruments for contact angle measurement.

Industrial Science & Technology Network, Inc. - Industrial Science & Technology Network, Inc. (ISTN) is an advanced innovation company specialising in the development of nanotechnology-enabled products. They are committed to providing valuable solutions and products that allow their customers to maximise performance and cost efficiency in industrial, optical and biomedical applications. Their proprietary technology platforms are the product of world-class polymer chemistry expertise and development funding from the United States Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Institutes of Health.

Eqalix - Eqalix, Inc. is an emerging regenerative medicine development company with a goal of enhancing the quality of life of consumers and patients by providing novel nano-materials for the repair and regeneration of diseased, traumatized, and aging tissues. Our innovative technologies are intended to revolutionize the unmet needs in multiple commercial and therapeutic applications in the regenerative medicine space.

Parabon Nanolabs - Parabon NanoLabs designs and develops a new class of therapeutics and other products made possible by proprietary technology for precisely directing the self-assembly of designer macromolecules that are functionalized with molecular subcomponents (e.g., enzymes, metals or pharmaceuticals). Our nanoscale development platform gives our scientists the ability to design and construct multi-functional macromolecules from simpler subcomponents, replacing the current paradigm of "molecular discovery" with that of "molecular design."

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Virginia is home to a number of universities that offer research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Given below is a list of universities and academic institutions in Virginia and the academic courses or research opportunities that cater for the development of nanotechnology:

Virginia Commonwealth University – offers an interdisciplinary doctoral degree program in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.         

NanoBioEarth – NanoBioEarth is a research group headed by Professor Michael Hochella, Jr within the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech. Their work is in the field of nanoscience applied to environmental geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and mineralogy.

George Mason University – offers a Certificate in Nanotechnology and Nanoscience.

University of Virginia- is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. They are involved in nanotechnology through the following facilities:

Virginia Tech - Virginia Tech has the largest number of degree offerings in Virginia, more than 125 campus buildings, a 2,600-acre main campus and off-campus educational facilities in six regions. They are involved in the field of nanotechnology through:

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute - This is a public-private partnership that deals with basic sciences, bioinformatics, and engineering

Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) - has a nanotechnology course with the possibility to undertake six courses per semester, across the CGEP network. The graduate-level nanotechnology courses available are - Nanotechnology Fundamentals, Nanobiotechnology, Nanomodeling and Simulation, Nanomaterials and Characterisation, Nanomanufacturing, and Nanoelectronics.

Recent Developments

Nanotechnology has come to be a part of the current industry scenario in Virginia, with nanomaterials being commercially produced for application in sectors such as life sciences, energy, microelectronics, and defense. The research infrastructure and educational programs available in Virginia will likely aid the existing industry and give rise to new companies.

In April 2012, CRDF Global and the State Agency of Ukraine for Science, Innovations, and Informatization (SASII) were involved in a joint research competition aimed at U.S. and Ukrainian researchers devoted to nanotechnology in energy efficiency and alternative energy.  This was a good fund raising opportunity for the researchers as the awards will provide funding for up to two years of research.

In September 2012, the University of Virginia (U.Va.) along with three other universities got involved in a research project to create self-powered devices that will assist people to monitor their health. Experts believe that these new devices are likely to transform health care by improving the way doctors, patients and researchers collect and interpret health data.

Even more recently, researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion research Institute developed a technique that captures the movement of nanoparticles in a liquid environment with atomic resolution. The technology will no doubt have applications in biology and medical fields.

There is no shortage of organisations working on nanotechnology in Virginia. Accordingly, there will no doubt continue to be many developments in the field, however, due to the high number of commercial players, many of these developments may not be well publicised, rather they may just be incorporated into salable products and pushed out into the market place.

References

  1. United States Census Bureau - Virginia Quick Facts
  2. Widespread Economic Growth Across States in 2011 (PDF)
  3. Virginia's Robust Economy
  4. Virginia - Innovative Research and Development
  5. Scientists Image Nanoparticles in Action

 

Date Added: May 3, 2013 | Updated: May 6, 2013
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