Nanotechnology in Wisconsin, USA: Market Report

Wisconsin, located in the Midwestern United States, covers a total area of 169,639 km2 and has a population of 5,711,767 as of 2011.

The key industries that play a major role in the state’s economy include agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and tourism. Wisconsin also excels in the production of consumer goods, paper and packaging. The state’s 2010 GSP was $248.3 billion.

The nanoscience research community in Wisconsin has strong research credentials in the use of nanotechnology for renewable energy applications, and is highly active in national and international scale academic collaborations.

Nanotechnology Companies

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

nPoint - nPoint designs and manufactures piezo stages, nanopositioners, and nanopositioning systems for nano-scale research and manufacturing.

Their expertise in closed-loop rapid nanopositioners has made nPoint the leading provider to customers that depend on high-speed and high-resolution performance. nPoint's piezo-actuated flexure stages combined with their DSP-based controllers provide the highest level of nanomotion control.

In addition to their extensive product line of piezo stages, nPoint develops custom nanopositioner solutions to meet customers’ unique requirements. Their goal is to understand your nanopositioning requirements and provide the solution that best fits those needs.

Nano Enhanced Wholesale Technologies - "Nano Enhanced Wholesale Technologies", which is an engineering support and sales company can supply several different Nano materials. They are able to supply support for, designing, modeling, and procuring material for customers in a wide variety of areas.

To help them with their goals they are providing educational material in the form of news articles, descriptions of features and characteristics, and application notes on these materials, to assist engineers, students, customers, and the general public in accessing information about the fabulous capability of these materials.

Platypus Technologies - Platypus Technologies, LLC develops innovative products for the analytical and life sciences based upon the application of nanotechnology. Utilizing recent advances in nanoscale and material science, the company provides advanced tools for use in proteomics, cell-based studies, and environmental monitoring. The Company is developing a range of products that derive from a proprietary platform technology utilizing liquid crystals for the rapid detection of molecular interactions.

Mad City Labs - Mad City Labs, Inc is a leading manufacturer of flexure based nanopositioning systems capable of sub-nanometer positioning resolution. Their product line covers the entire spectrum of nanopositioning capabilities while maintaining a leadership role in multi-axis stages for high speed optical microscopy imaging.

Mad City Labs design engineers use 3D CAD and finite element analysis to produce nanopositioners which combine long ranges of motion with exceptional linearity, orthogonality, and stability. Their in-house CNC machining centers provide complete control of mechanical assembly production and allow Mad City Labs to design and fabricate custom systems with minimal engineering costs and short lead times.

Sonoplot - SonoPlot's Microplotter instruments let you print materials for microelectronics or biological spotting. The novel ultrasonic technology used in these instruments allows for materials like nanometallic silver, carbon nanotubes, DNA, and proteins to be printed in microscale spots, lines, or other shapes.

Xolve - Xolve are an early stage nanomaterials manufacturer. Their aim is to raise the performance nanomaterial products like graphene nanoplatelets to meet the requirements of commercial applications, and to make the materials cheaper and simpler to implement in large-scale manufacturing.

Nanotechnology Education

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

University of Wisconsin - Promotes research activities in the field of nanotechnology through the research centers listed below:

  • Center on Templated Synthesis and Assembly at the Nanoscale - Deals with challenges associated with directed assembly of nanoscale materials into functional systems and architectures through the usage of chemical patterning, external fields and self-assembly. The center conducts research on the topics listed below:
  • Environmental Health and Safety Implications of Nanotechnology
  • Directed Assembly of Block Copolymer Materials
  • Driven Assembly at the Nanoscale
  • Center for Nanotechnology - Conducts research in order to develop new patterning techniques that can be used to achieve accurate, broad and predictable fabrication of devices. This center is involved in forming patterns at the nanoscale by using electron beam, extreme ultraviolet and x-ray lithography that will indeed develop new processes in the computer chip industry.
  • Nealey research group - This research group is made up of post-doctoral researchers and graduate students specializing in advanced nanofabrication, cell-substrate interactions, lithography and polymer thin films.

Recent Developments

In August 2012, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a biomimetic solar panel design which tracks the sun as it moves across the sky without the need for active GPS and positioning systems, increasing the efficiency of the panels by 10%. The design uses a combination of liquid crystalline elastomer (LCE), which goes through a phase change and contracts in the presence of heat, with carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which can absorb a wide range of light wavelengths, generating heat to trigger the LCE actuators.

This discovery builds on a succession of nanotechnology research in the field of renewable energy - in 2011, Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor, engineering researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, published a paper in Nature Commuications describing a new energy-harvesting technology to capture the energy of human motion to power portable electronics. The technology is known as "reverse electrowetting," a phenomenon discovered by the Wisconsin researchers. The mechanical energy from normal movement is converted to electrical energy by using a micro-fluidic device consisting of thousands of liquid micro-droplets interacting with a novel nano-structured substrate.

Wisconsin is highly active in academic collaborations with other regions and other countries - a crucial part of research in a field like nanoscience, which has global implications across a broad range of disciplines.

In November 2012, the Centre for Sustainable Nanotechnology was created as a joint venture between several prominent institutions, including the National Science Foundation. Professor Robert Hamers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the director of the new facility, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is also participating.

More developments like this will increase the scope of nanotechnology in the state of Wisconsin that hopes to see the development of various organizations and many more companies supporting and promoting the significance and awareness of nanotechnology in Wisconsin.


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