Nanotechnology in Massachusetts, USA: Market Report

Massachusetts is located in the northeastern part of the United States of America. It has a population of 6,587,536 people and covers a total area of 27,336 km2.

The major sectors that contribute to Massachusetts’ economy are biotechnology, health care, finance, higher education, and tourism. Minicomputers, electronics, and high technology are the key sectors that help economic growth in the state. In 2010, Massachusetts’ GDP per capita was $58,108.

Some of the leading universities for technology research in the USA and in the world are situated in Massachusetts, putting the region at the forefront of nanotechnology research. In the last few years, there has also been huge growth in the nanomanufacturing industry in Massachusetts and the rest of New England.

The many collaborative projects between research institutions and industry in Massachusetts have benefited from this growth as well as fueling it, and have generated huge technological advances in the spaces between pure nanoscience research and commercial nano-enhanced products.

Nanotechnology Organisations

Massachusetts has many organisations committed to promoting nanotechnology as well as exploring the future prospects of nanotechnology. A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organisations in Massachusetts is given below:

Nano-Engineered Composite Aerospace Structures (NECST) Consortium - NECST is located in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics. This Consortium’s focus is to improve the performance of advanced aerospace materials/structures through strategic use of carbon nanotubes combined with conventional advanced composites to form hybrid architectures.

Massachusetts Technology Transfer CenterMTTC facilitates and accelerates the transfer of technology between research institutions and Massachusetts companies so as to assist the growth of Massachusetts companies, including startups. It also supports regional and statewide economic development priorities.

InterNano - It is an information resource center for the nanomanufacturing community. Resources covering the advances in applications, devices, metrology, and materials that will facilitate commercial development and/or marketable application of nanotechnology. It is an initiative of the National Nanomanufacturing Network (NNN), which is an alliance of academic, government and industry partners that cooperate to advance nanomanufacturing strength in the U.S.

Nanotechnology Companies

Nanotechnology is a vast and versatile field covering a multitude of applications in myriad industries. The major nanotechnology companies in Massachusetts catering to these diverse sectors are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:

Nyacol Nanotechnologies, Inc - Nyacol Inc. was founded in 1969 in Ashland, MA. In October of 1999 and were renamed Nyacol Nano Technologies. They have developed a variety of proprietary nano particle technologies for manufacturing specialized inorganic colloids.  They have been the world's leading supplier of colloidal antimony pentoxide, serving the flame retardant plastics and textile markets. Through the years, nano-particle chemistry has enabled Nyacol to diversify their product offering into a range of inorganic materials, including silica, alumina, zirconia, ceria, yttria and oxides of tin and zinc.

Nano Lab - NanoLab was founded in January 2000. The company is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, and operates as a manufacturer of carbon nanotubes and developer of nanoscale devices.

Nantero - Nantero is a nanotechnology company using carbon nanotubes for the development of next-generation semiconductor devices. These devices include memory, logic, and other semiconductor products. In the field of memory, Nantero has developed NRAM™, a high-density nonvolatile Random Access Memory.

10 Angstroms - 10 Angstroms is a new company dedicated to bringing innovative systems and equipment to the R&D market. They provide both sales and service for advanced instrumentation. They enjoy our role in working with both the customer and manufacturer in the ever changing nanotechnology field.

A123Systems - A123 Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: AONE) develops and manufactures advanced Nanophosphate® lithium iron phosphate batteries and energy storage systems that deliver high power and energy density, long life, and excellent safety performance. The company’s game-changing technology enables customers to commercialize innovative products for the transportation, electric grid, commercial and government markets. Founded in 2001, A123's proprietary Nanophosphate technology is built on novel nanoscale materials initially developed at MIT.

Aldlab Nanotech - Aldlab comprises seasoned and experienced organic chemists, nanomaterials experts, biologists, and physicists. Aldlab plans to be the world leader on the rational design and cost effective fabrication of speciality chemicals, precisely engined nanomaterials as well as rational designed bio-nano materials.

Aphios - Aphios leads the way in developing green, enabling biotechnology and nanotechnology drug delivery platforms and enhanced therapeutic products for health maintenance, disease prevention and the treatment of certain cancers, infectious diseases and Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease.

Advanced Diamond Solutions Inc. - is a privately-held company based in Boston, Massachusetts. A research & development leader in a wide variety of industrial diamond products, including  DLC / amorphous diamond thermoelectric /photovoltaic products and nanodiamond biotechnology products. They are currently engaged in a number of innovative projects related to the development of thermionic solar cells using amorphous diamond nanostructures.

Graphene Supermarket - The goal of Graphene Supermarket is to provide laboratory supplies for graphene community. Graphene Supermarket's philosophy is to offer quality products, hassle-free shopping, easy order tracking, and fast delivery.

Hyperion Catalysis International - is the world leader in carbon nanotube development and commercialization. Their Hyperion Catalysis' flagship technology is a conductive, vapor grown, multi-walled carbon nanotube. These tubes are trade named FIBRIL™ nanotubes.

Nano-C - is leader in the world of nanostructured carbon materials including fullerenes, nanotubes, and their chemical derivatives. At Nano-C's core is an energy and environmentally efficient combustion-based process technology invented at MIT by Nano-C Founder and MIT Professor Emeritus, Jack B. Howard. Nano-C is the exclusive developer and owner of the advanced II-G technology which has enabled Nano-C to be a leader in the efficient production of high-quality fullerenic materials including C60, C70, C84 and fullerene black.

3-D Matrix, Inc. - is a wholly owned subsidiary of 3-D Matrix, Ltd., Tokyo, Japan. The 3-D Matrix Group develops and manufactures a family of peptide biomaterials under the trade name PuraMatrix™ for use in clinical applications and life science research.

Nanotechnology Education

Massachusetts is home to a number of world-leading universities that offer research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Given below is a list of universities and academic institutions in Massachusetts and the academic courses or research opportunities offered by them in various aspects of nanotechnology.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It promotes the following research and educational facilities:

  • Department of Mechanical Engineering – offers a research program in Micro-and Nanoengineering to create new engineering knowledge and products on the micro and nano-scale. The research will cover three broad domains namely, theoretical foundation (science) research, applications research, and enabling tools research.
  • Space Nanotechnology Laboratory - SNL is located in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI). They  mainly cover the fields of nanofabrication, nanometer-accuracy x-ray optics fabrication, assembly and metrology, ultra-high resolution lithography, nanometrology, and nano-accuracy diffraction grating fabrication. Their laboratory developed the world’s most advanced grating patterning tool, the Nanoruler, which has a precision of well under 3 nanometers.
  • NanoMechanical Technology Laboratory – It is a state-of-the-art laboratory of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. It offers a variety of research options including Nanoindentation, Nanoscale magnetic recording media, Nanoscale plasticity etc.
  • Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies - ISN is a team consisting of MIT, Army and industry partners involved in new discoveries and field technologies that would help advance soldier protection and survivability capabilities. ISN also provides opportunities for MIT students to conduct summer research at Army research facilities under the guidance of army scientists.
  • The MIT-Harvard Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence - is a collaborative effort among MIT, Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and celebrated its 375th anniversary in 2011. It promotes the following research and educational facilities:

  • Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials – is a part of Harvard Medical School. Their research focuses on new nanomaterials and nanotechnologies in order to develop advanced drug delivery systems that  will aid in the improvement of health care.
  • Center for Nanoscale SystemsThe center’s scientific focus is on how nanoscale components can be integrated into large and complex interacting systems.
  • Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) - The NSEC works at constructing new electronic and magnetic devices with nanoscale sizes and understanding their behaviour (including quantum phenomena). A close integration of research, education, and public outreach is adopted at the Center  to encourage and promote training of students and researchers to be leaders in Nanoscience.
  • Harvard Extension School -  provides an opportunity to procure a nanotechnology certificate at Harvard in five graduate nanotechnology courses. Students can opt for online and on-campus courses.
  • The Harvard Nanopore Group - It is a research group involved in probing molecules with Nanopores.

University of Massachusetts is a five-campus public university system. It promotes the following research and educational facilities:

  • MassNanoTech Institute - MassNanoTech is a research institute coordinating research on nanoscale materials, devices and systems, collaborating with industry, advancing nanotechnology commercialization, educating students, and fostering outreach activities. It is situated in the Amherst campus.
  • W.M. Keck Nanostructures Laboratory - is a part of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and the Silvio O. Conte National Center for Polymer Research at Amherst campus. This Laboratory provides access to material characterization equipment, technical support, and training and consultation, and performs a range of services for users in the area of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Variable Angle Spectrocopic Elliposmetry (VASE) and Optical Microscopy.
  • Nanomanufacturing Center – is situated in the Lowell campusThe Center is a collaboration of faculty from a wide range of disciplines, including Engineering, Science, Health, Management, and Humanities. They provide research opportunities, industrial partnerships, and workforce development required for manufacturing of new products.
  • Food Biophysics and Nanotechnology Laboratory - FBNL is involved in the formation and preparation of nanoparticles and nanofibers from food biopolymers using techniques such as electrospinning and ultrafiltration. The FBNL develops nanoscalar encapsulation systems, delivery mechanisms for bioactives and antimicrobials.
  • Deparment of Chemistry (Amherst campus)– Research opportunities within this department cover nano-materials and developing and applying the toolkit of chemistry to generate and study functional nanostructures.

Northeastern University Bio-Nano Robotics – The team works at developing intelligent bio-nano sensors and nanodevices for various medical and nanotechnological applications.

Recent Developments

The State of Massachusetts holds a leading position in nanotechnology research and technology development in the USA. The Department of Environmental Protection is the state agency that is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management of toxic and hazardous materials, recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, and timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills. They have been heavily involved in ensuring the safe use of nanotechnology, in conjunction with the research institutions in the area.

Scientists at MIT have recently discovered that nanoparticles can shrink tumors in mice by derlivering RNA fragments to shut off cancer genes. These RNA carriers also enable researchers to screen potential drug targets at a much faster rate, by using targeted RNA to alter expressions of genes in mice without having to wait for new generations of mice to be bred.

In October 2012, MIT postdoc Katherine Mirica designed a new type of pencil lead where graphite is substituted with a compressed powder of carbon nanotubes. This can be used with a regular mechanical pencil, and allows carbon nanotube sensors to be simply drawn onto any paper surface.

In the same month, another key research finding came up in Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), where researchers created self assembled, multi-functional gold nanorods which are responsive to near-infrared light. These nanorods can deliver a chemotherapy drug specifically targeted to cancer cells, selectively releasing the drug in response to an external beam of light whilst simultaneously creating heat to enhance the drug's anti-tumor efficacy.


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