Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Arkansas, USA: Market Report

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Arkansas, situated in the Southern United States, encompasses a total area of 137,733 km2. In 2011, Arkansas had a reported population of 2,937,979. The GDP of Arkansas in 2010 was $105 billion with a per capita personal income of $36,027.

With its diversified economy, Arkansas meets the necessities of the present-day consumers. The chief industrial outputs of the state include machinery, paper products, electric equipment, fabricated metal products, and food processing. The key exports include meat, aircraft/spacecraft, machinery, and electrical machinery. The main agricultural outputs include poultry and eggs, milk, soybeans, cotton, rice, hogs, sorghum, and cattle.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) offers arbitrary funding to businesses that qualify as “targeted businesses.” To qualify, businesses must work in identified upcoming technology areas such as:

  • Biotechnology with a focus on sensor technology
  • Bio-based products with a focus on polymers or adhesives
  • Advanced materials and manufacturing with a focus on nanotechnology, photonics, or electronics

A number of these may involve nanotechnology, thus making Arkansas a potentially worthy location to locate and/or establish.

In addition, the AEDC has a research and development incentive program to encourage research and development programs in-house, in universities, and for start-up technology-based enterprises, potentially offering more reasons to set up base in Arkansas.

Furthermore, Arkansas aims to lead the United States in attracting clean technology and renewable energy industries as well as cutting consumer energy reliance on existing carbon-generating technologies. To help in realizing this goal, the state has set up the “Arkansas Governor’s Commission on Global Warming.”

Nanotechnology Companies

The key nanotechnology-related companies in Arkansas are mentioned below together with a short introduction to each of them.

Ocean NanoTech—Launched in 2004, its mission is to offer the best nanocrystals with excellent qualities to meet customer requirements. Thus far, Ocean NanoTech has expanded its series of products to include nanocrystals to suit different applications. The product series currently includes water-soluble biocompatible nanocrystals, core quantum dots, core shell quantum dots in nanocrystals for LEDs and solar cells, organic solvents, reaction buffers for conjugating nanocrystals to biomolecules, conjugation kits, and services to meet customer requirements.

Ocean NanoTech is one of the top players in dispersible nanomaterials. They are experts in the synthesis of dispersible nanocrystals with narrow size distribution and precise particle size. Furthermore, they also offer customers with materials processing solutions and tailored services to match the requirements of the various applications of nanomaterials.

The company looks for new ways to create better materials and better processes to realize higher manufacturing capabilities. Its R&D is dedicated toward the different applications of magnetic nanocrystals, quantum dots, and metal nanocrystals for optoelectronic, biomedical, and energy applications.

NanoMech—Established in 2002, the company has offered the world breakthrough nano innovations in machining and manufacturing, biomedical implant coatings, lubrication and energy, packaging for fresh produce supply chain, and strategic military applications.

NanoMech invests in world-class ideas, tools, and people to improve competitiveness in the international market. The company takes ideas from innovation to implementation, launching nanomanufactured products to market. NanoMech’s vision is to be the world leader in nanomanufacturing innovation and product development with a focus on platform technologies that are scalable for efficient mass production.

Nanomaterials and Nanofabrication Laboratories (NN-Labs)—It is an industry leader in the processing, production, and applications of colloidal nanocrystals. NN-Labs provides six standardized nanocrystal product series including iron oxide magnetic nanocrystals, semiconductor nanocrystals, and noble metal nanocrystals.

NN-Labs offers a complete line of high-quality cadmium-based core and core-shell products created using its patented green synthesis techniques. Furthermore, NN-Labs also offers a line of high-quality non-cadmium (Indium Phosphide-based) core-shell quantum dots. All of their quantum dots exhibit exceptional size distribution, brightness, emission, and purity.

NN-Labs has also created technology that allows the production of high-quality doped quantum dots (d-dotsTM) that are cadmium-free, have adjustable emission with high quantum yields, exhibit exceptional stability to temperature and UV, and eliminate the self-quenching hitches of intrinsic quantum dots.

NN-Labs also offers high-quality noble metal nanocrystals and high magnetic strength iron oxide. In some (high value/high volume) cases, NN-Labs creates custom nanocrystal materials solutions for customers.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Some of the top academic institutes in Arkansas providing courses and research programs in nanotechnology and nanoscience are mentioned below.

University of Arkansas—Encourages research in nanotechnology through the following research centers:

  • Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering—Targets research in nanoscience and nanotechnology and includes an array of nanoscale facilities that perform:
    • Auger spectroscopy
    • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
    • Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM)
    • Electrical and magnetic characterization
    • X-ray photoelectric spectroscopy (XPS)
    • Focus ion beam (FIB)
    • Atomic force microscopy (AFM)
    • X-ray
    • Raman spectroscopy
    • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
    • Single molecule/particle spectroscopy
  • Department of Electrical Engineering—Performs research in micro electro mechanical devices (MEMs) and nanotechnology, and offers several graduate and undergraduate courses for MEMs and Nanotechnology.
  • Materials and Manufacturing Research Laboratories—Offers research facilities for MS and PhD students. The main areas of research in nanotechnology include Nano-Materials Science and Nano-Manufacturing.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock—Encourages research and study of nanotechnology through the following research center.

  • Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences—Provides educational programs on nanotechnology to middle school, high school, graduate, and undergraduate students. These nanotech programs include facility visits, lectures, research, experiment demonstrations, and joint collaborations.

Recent Developments

NanoMech, a Springdale nanotechnology company, and Cameron, a Houston-based international provider of products to the gas and oil sector, together with a group of engineers developed a lubricant known as TriboTruff. This new lubricant can be applied to components used in gas and oil operations, and is anticipated to lower friction to zero and improve the service life of products using TriboTruff. According to specialists, TriboTruff will curtail the usage of natural resources that are estimated to perish by 2050.

NanoMech plans to construct a new facility next to its already existing facility and has hence decided to raise about $5 million for this purpose. It will be the production house of nGlide and TriboTruff. TriboTruff and nGlide are additive lubricants that will help decrease friction, enhance performance, and improve the service life of products working on these lubricants. In the process, their staff strength could go up from 25 to 100 in 2013.

NanoMech was also awarded the “Top Emerging Nano Innovator Award” for the second year in a row. This comes immediately after winning a competitive DoE SBIR grant to help market their advanced bio-inspired nGlide nanolubricants.

If the success of NanoMech is a sign of what can take place in Arkansas, it appears rational that research into the application of nanotechnology in energy-efficient technologies could be a popular topic in that state in the future using incentives provided by the AEDC.

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