Nanotechnology in Illinois, USA: Market Report

Topics Covered

Have we missed you? Are you a company, organisation or research group operating in this region and feel you warrant inclusion on this page? Also please feel free to help us keep this page up to date with the latest news or research from your organisation or suggest general edits. Shoot through an email and one of our editorial team will get back to you.

Nanotechnology Organisations
Nanotechnology Companies
Nanotechnology Education
Recent Developments


Illinois, with a population of 12,869,257 as of 2011, covers a total area of 149,998 km2. Illinois has vast economic base with major activities taking place in its agricultural and industrial sectors.  Southern part of Illinois is rich is natural resources such as petroleum, coal and timber.

From the early 2000s, Illinois depended on high-value-added services to speed up it economic growth rate. These services include medicine, financial trading, logistics, higher education and law. Illinois’ GDP per capita as per 2010 was US$45,302.

Illinois has become one of the leading states in the USA for nanotechnology, on the strength of its infrastructure, research institutions, talent, and a cluster of established companies and start-ups.

Illinois is well positioned to focus on four sectors with substantial growth potential: energy, clean water, personalized medicine, and advanced manufacturing.

To capitalize on these opportunities and maintain its leadership in nanotech, Illinois is working to expand the resources and facilities available to nanotechnology start-ups and attract more private investment.

Nanotechnology Organizations

A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organizations in Illinois is given below:

International Institute for Nanotechology (IIN) - Focuses on educating people from different educational and professional backgrounds and of all ages about nanotechnology and nanoscience through a number of innovative educational efforts. The IIN promotes research in the following areas:

Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) - This is a non-profit organization that focuses on attracting investments and promoting more research on new technology by collaborating with academia, industry and government in order to promote Illinois as a global hub for entrepreneurship, innovation and research. ISTC highlights the importance given to the field of nanotechnology in Illinois.

American Bar Association Section Nanotechnology Project - Started a nanotechnology project in 2006 that covered topics dealing with laws and policies involving the field of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology Companies

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

Nanocor - Nanocor is a new operating subsidiary of AMCOL International Corporation. They are the largest global supplier of nanoclays specifically designed for plastic nanocomposites. Over the past decade Nanocor has developed patented technologies for producing nanoscale clays suitable for incorporation into plastics and technologies for making nanocomposites themselves.

Nanocor’s Technical Center is located in Hoffman Estates IL, next to the corporate headquarters. At the Technical Center they can create a wide range of Nanomer® nanoclays, disperse them into polymer systems to form nanocomposites and evaluate their performance.

Advanced Diamond Technologies - Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc. (ADT) was formed in December 2003 to commercialize Ultrananocrystalline Diamond™ (UNCD™) technology from Argonne National Laboratory. ADT is the licensee to the Argonne portfolio of application and process patents for using and synthesizing UNCD films.

Advanced Thin Films - ATFI is an advanced materials company developing thin film technologies to serve defense, energy, aerospace, and other industrial needs. Our four platform technologies offer broad and disruptive attributes that can improve performance of existing products or enable new products and/or provide significant reduction in manufacturing/operational costs. Each technology segment is embodied by a new material composition or form and an associated low-cost, scalable, and environmentally-friendly process.

Nanophase Technologies Corporation: Nanophase is a world leader in delivering nano-engineered materials to enable innovative products that improve people’s lives. Their aim is to understand their customers unmet needs and to deliver exceptional value to help them win. By making their customers successful, they benefit their shareholders, employees and community. They conduct their business in a safe, ethical and environmentally responsible way.

Nanophase develops, manufactures and sells an integrated family of nanomaterial technologies. Nanophase produces engineered nanomaterial products for use in a variety of markets including animal hygiene, automotive, electronics, exterior coatings, personal care, plastics, scratch resistant coatings, textiles, and architectural windows.

Nanosphere - Nanosphere develops, manufactures and markets an advanced molecular diagnostic platform, the Verigene System, which enables simple, cost-effective, and highly sensitive nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) and protein testing on a single platform.

Their breakthrough technology helps hospitals improve patient care and lowers costs by providing time-critical information, allowing earlier detection of disease and more targeted treatment. 

EcoloCap Solutions Inc - EcoloCap Solutions brings together the technology, engineering, and operational management for the successful development of environmentally significant products and projects,

They strive to provide quality products and services that represent exceptional value and consistently define industry standards. They are dedicated to improving the environment through the products they produce and how they conduct our business. Their products include nano Processing Units and nano Processing Waste units.

SmalTec International LLC - SmalTec International's micro technology machines offer Micro-EDM, Nano-Grinding, Micro-Turning, Micro-Drilling, Micro-Milling, Micro-Polishing to create the only true micro scale machining and 3-dimensional shaping and contouring in the industry. Their plan over the next several years is to introduce a broad range of products and technologies from nano-pulse EDM to integrated devices utilizing multiple technologies within one platform. SmalTec International's micro technology machines offer the GM703 developed with high precision 3-dimensional nano-motion. The GM703 is the next-generation Micro EDM with Nano Grinding technology.

Alpha Precision Inc - Alpha Precision was originally founded in 1965 as Photo Instrument Tooling Co. in Yorkville, Illinois. The original focus of the business was to design and fabricate specialty camera equipment. Alpha Precision has repeatedly used its strengths in design and building specialty tooling and equipment to manufacture custom glass components. In 1979 Alpha began production of glass and ceramic substrates for the semiconductor pressure sensors. Alpha became a pioneer in ultrasonic drilling and machining of substrates and more than 25 years later is a major supplier of glass wafers, shipping wafers world wide.

Hitachi High Technologies America Inc - Hitachi High Technologies America, Inc. (“HTA”) is a privately-owned global affiliate company that operates within the Hitachi Group Companies. HTA sells and services semiconductor manufacturing equipment, analytical instrumentation, scientific instruments, bio-related products as well as industrial equipment, electronic devices, electronic and industrial materials, consumer electronic products, wireless mobile telephones, and hard disk manufacturing systems.

The business development group at Hitachi High Technologies America (HTA) is chartered with identifying products and technologies, whether evolutionary or disruptive, that will benefit from our diversity of expertise, market leadership, and established global network.  Areas of interest include, but are not limited to nanotech, biotech, environmental, cloud-based services, health, electronics, new energy and others.

Nanotechnology Education

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

University of Illinois

  • Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory has BioNanotechnology Laboratories (BNL) comprising separate laboratory areas offering simultaneous research on nanotechnology, biological and micro related fields. These laboratories are efficiently utilized for BioNEMS and BioMEMS research.
  • Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems (Nano-CEMMS) organizes one-day workshops and summer institutes for K-12 teachers, as well as the following student programs.
    • Summer undergraduate programs include:
      • The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)
      • The Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP)
    • Program for graduate students include:
      • Graduate Student Group that covers research presentations by faculty and students.
      • Foreign research experience program through which Nano-CEMMS funds five graduate students enabling them to go through a foreign experience at research institutions in Europe and Asia.
    • High school student program include:
      • Nano Challenge, an after school program
      • Principal's Scholars Program that aims at developing analytical and critical thinking skills of student and also enhances their level of academic confidence.

Northwestern University (NU)

  • Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) for Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection Technologies focuses on developing powerful detection technologies for chemical and biological analytes based on materials that are nano-engineered. Researchers at this center constantly organize workshops and deliver lectures.

Programs offered by the NSEC are as follows:

  • The Nanotechnology Corporate Partners (NCP) program
  • The Small Business Evaluation and Entrepreneurs (SBEE) program.
  • The Frontiers in Nanotechnology Seminar Series
  • The annual International Institute for Nanotechnology Symposium

Educational outreach programs organized by the NSEC include:

  • The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program
  • The Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program
  • Nanotechnology Town Hall meetings
  • The Center-published Nanoscape: The Journal of Undergraduate Research in Nanoscience.
  • Preclinical validation of polyvalent siRNA gold nanoparticle conjugates as anti-glioma therapeutics
  • NanoFlares for the detection of cancer stem cells
  • Nanostructured matrices for cancer cell biology
  • Theranostic magnetic nanostructures for the molecular imaging of cancer.
  • Center for Quantum Devices - Offers high-level research in nanotechnology and compound semiconductor science. Their graduate and undergraduate curriculum covers a study on nanotechnology.

Argonne National Laboratory Center for Nanoscale Materials provides research in the following areas:

  • NanoBio Interfaces
  • Electronic & Magnetic Materials & Devices
  • Nanofabrication & Devices
  • Nanophotonics
  • Theory & Modeling
  • X-Ray Microscopy

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology: Researches on “Molecular & Electronic Nanostructures” to develop a basic understanding of physical and chemical processes dealing with structures on the nanometer scale. Molecular & Electronic Nanostructures research groups include:

  • 3D Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Autonomous Materials Systems
  • Computational Multiscale Nanosystems
  • Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials
  • Theoretical and Computational Biophysics

National Center for Learning and Teaching in Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NCLT):

  • Publishes instructional modules comprising nano-based applications,
  • Develops a network of multi-sector nano education groups
  • Provides professional training through seminars, workshops and lectures.

Recent Developments

A number of research laboratories and centers in Illinois have been focusing on the development of more nanotechnology activities in the state. The 2012 Illinois Nanotechnology Report indicated an increase in the global market for nanotechnology products from about $11.7 billion in 2009 to almost $26.7 billion in 2015.

Many organizations are keen on showcasing their interest to educate students and teachers on the significance of nanotechnology and university faculties have also come up with new nanotechnology innovations.

One such innovation was recently recognized with the 2012 IEEE Pioneer in Nanotechnology Award that was given to a professor from ECE Illinois. This new innovation focused on the discovery and applications of the deuterium isotope effect to CMOS technology and on the improvements in atomic resolution nanofabrication.

With an increasing number of innovations and investment opportunities in the field of nanotechnology, Illinois is likely to maintain its leadership in nanotech in the coming years, and continue to support nanotech growth in many key industries.


Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback