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Situated in the south-central part of the United States, Texas is the second most populated state in the country, and has an increasing population of 25.7 million.
Texas shares an international border with Mexico and spans a total area of 696,200 km2. Austin is the capital of this state, and Houston is its largest city.
Since Texas is large, it intersects several climate zones, offering weather conditions that are highly varied. The state’s economy is one of the fastest developing in the United States. Texas’ Gross State Product is the second highest in the United States, recording $1.332 trillion in 2011.
Texas has abundant natural resources and is home to many higher education institutions, resulting in its economy being strong and diverse. Agriculture, mining, petrochemicals, aeronautics, information technology, electronics, and finance are the major industries in the state.
Texas is home to several networks and organizations focused on supporting and investigating nanoscience. Given below is a short description of a leading nanotechnology-related organization in the state.
Nanotechnology Advancement Center (NAC)
The core activities of NAC are to evaluate nanotechnology activities, track competence in the area of nanotechnology, and explain the impacts of nanotechnology on humans as well as the environment. The center’s aim is to collaborate with similar organizations, both at the local and global levels.
Nanotechnology is a multifaceted field, with applications in a wide range of industries spanning from food and water treatment sector to space research, information technology, and medicine.
Texas has several top nanotechnology companies that serve many different sectors. The sectors are mentioned below, along with a short description to each of them.
Southern Clay Products, Inc.
Established in Gonzales, Texas, in the late 1940s, the company became a part of the Rockwood Specialties, Inc. team based in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2000. In December 2005, Rockwood Holdings, Inc., which includes both Rockwood Additives Limited and Southern Clay Products, Inc., acquired the rheological additives and carbonless developers businesses from Süd-Chemie. With this acquisition, the company is now poised to reach the next level of success and gain a stronger market hold in the future.
Southern Clay Products, Inc. produces Nanofil® and Cloisite® additives, which are nanoscale additives developed for reinforced plastics.
NovaCentrix specializes in developing, patenting, and commercializing innovative technologies in nanoparticle manufacturing, printed electronics, pulsed power equipment, and associated fields. The science and engineering team of the company has years of cumulative experience, striving to develop cutting-edge technologies, like the Metalon® inks and the PulseForge® tools.
In April 2011, the company received the AIMCAL Award for low-cost, copper-based screen ink. At drupa 2012, NovaCentrix introduced the new PulseForge Model.
Liquid Minerals Group, Inc. (LMGI)
LMGI is an international leader with three decades of experience in oil-soluble magnesium fuel additive products utilizing nanotechnology. Its focus is to improve refining operations, and treat heavy fuel oils that are used for operating diesel engines, boilers, and turbines.
The company produces oil-soluble organometallic magnesium fuel additives with premium chemical components available. In fact, its LMG-30E® turbine-grade additive adheres to GE-GEK specifications.
IXRF initially started to upgrade Kevex bulk X-ray fluorescence (XRF) systems to contemporary Windows-based systems. The name “IXRF” was actually derived from these XRF beginnings. The company rapidly expanded its product portfolio to incorporate microanalysis systems. At present, microanalysis systems represent most of the company’s business, but the inclusion of XRF is gaining rapid acceptance. This helped in coining the phrase “iXRF” that implies “Integrated XRF” in the SEM.
Quantum Logic Devices
QLD brings together “wet” biology and “dry” semiconductor electronics using nanotechnology, and produces completely new products to enhance healthcare. Its patented nanoelectronic platforms will expedite knowledge generation in fields like drug discovery, proteomics, and genomics. This knowledge will lead to new breakthroughs like molecular diagnostics and “personalized” drugs that will render the medicine practice more successful and more efficient.
The company’s technology enables direct visualization of molecular reactions without any optical labels, thus considerably simplifying bioassay processes and eliminating most of the error related to label-based technologies.
A private company established in 2002, Nanospectra has received an exclusive license from Rice University to 11 issued US patents associated with nanoshells and its related commercial applications, and other nanoparticles.
Although many diagnostic, therapeutic, and industrial commercial applications are available, Nanospectra focuses on developing AuroLase® Therapy using AuroShell® Particles (also called nanoshells). This enables accurate, particle-based thermal ablation of solid tumors.
Established in 1997, Zyvex is the first molecular nanotechnology company with an aim to develop atomically precise manufacturing. By 2007, several of the company’s research products had been marketed. With the expansion of the product range, Zyvex was revamped into individual companies to enable each company to focus autonomously on its industry-leading products and technology.
Texas has several universities providing research and educational opportunities in the field of nanotechnology. A list of universities together with the research opportunities or academic courses provided by them in different aspects of nanotechnology is given below.
- Rice University
- The Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology—Probes the effect of nanotechnology on five major “Grand Challenge” areas such as education, water, energy, disease, and environment.
- Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology—Aims to explore and create nanomaterials that allow new environmental and medical technologies.
- The University of Texas at Dallas
- NanoTech Institute—The Institute develops new science and technology leveraging the nanoscale properties.
- Micro Nano Devices and Systems Laboratory (MiNDS Lab)—Creates micron- and submicron-scale multifunctional systems and devices for biomedical, photonics, and RF/microwave applications.
- The University of Texas at Arlington
- Magnetic Nanostructures Laboratory
- Surface and Nano Engineering Laboratory—Organizes key research activities in materials science and engineering, including nanotechnology/nanomaterials.
- Nanofab—It is an interdisciplinary resource open to researchers both within and outside the university. The facilities enable performing surface characterization, etching, deposition, and bonding.
- The University of Texas at Austin
- Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology
- Microelectronics Research Center (MRC)—Provides research opportunities in new materials of interest to the IC sector, novel electronic devices and nanostructures, and optoelectronics and nanophotonics.
- SouthWest Academy of Nanotechnology (SWAN)—Part of MRC, at The University of Texas at Austin, it offers opportunities to conduct studies on innovative materials of interest to the IC sector, interconnects and packaging, new electronic devices and nanostructures, and optoelectronics and nanophotonics.
- The University of Texas at Houston
- Center for Nanomedicine—It is focused on finding cures for human disease, enhancing the quality of life, and building a legacy for humanity using advanced biomedical science.
A German-American Nanotechnology Conference called NANOTEX was held in Düsseldorf, with an aim to explore the market potential of nanotechnology in Texas. The conference also aimed to offer opportunities for joint ventures, trade, networking, and investment between German and Texas nanotech firms.
In October 2012, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) declared a $2.7 million grant to perform a five-year cooperative research agreement with Rice University researchers and its Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology. The goal was to study the function of nanoparticles (graphene, nanotubes, and fullerenes) and their interaction with other materials both at the atomic and molecular scales.
In the same month, another team of Rice University researchers developed a technique for producing almost transparent films of electrically conductive carbon nanotubes. These films could be employed for flexible electronic displays as well as touchscreens. The nanotechnology sector in Texas is abuzz with activity, and is sure to thrive in the years to come.