Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Connecticut, USA: Market Report

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Connecticut is situated in the northwestern United States and has a total area of 14,357 km2. The state’s population in 2011 was 3,580,709.

The GSP of the state in 2010 was $237 billion. With a per capita income of $85,459, New Canaan is considered as the most prosperous town in Connecticut.

In the 2011–2012 fiscal year, Connecticut launched a new, bold economic plan to reverse several years of stagnant job growth and encourage business development under the semblance of the First Five program. In parallel, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development has also altered its approach to try and transform their state into a business-friendly one. One of the main concerns of this initiative was to nurture and trigger innovation.

Connecticut’s governor also conducted Bioscience Connecticut in 2011 as another initiative to push forward the local economy. The plan is to make significant investments into the state’s bioscience research facilities and to expand job opportunities in biomedical research.

The state also has strong, advanced manufacturing and aerospace capabilities, and Connecticut continues to play a top role in clean and renewable energy.

Nanotechnology Organizations

A short introduction to the main nanotechnology-related organization in Connecticut is provided below.

Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology—It is a nonprofit corporation that offers a range of services to manufacturers, educators, high-technology companies, etc. The focus of the center is to conduct research and field-testing activities to examine the efficiency of using nanotechnology to satisfy the needs of the U.S. industry.

Nanotechnology Companies

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

Inframat—It was formed as a research company in 1995 by Dr Alvin Salkind, Dr Peter Strutt, Dr Bernard Kear, Dr James Hsiao, and Dr Danny Xiao. Its mission was to develop and market specific nanotechnology advancements created by Dr Strutt at The University of Connecticut under the Nanoprecision Manufacturing Program, sponsored by Connecticut Innovations, Inc.

The founders had contemplated on a company using its cutting-edge knowledge of material science and nanotech to create advanced materials and surface coatings that would bestow unique characteristics to the products in which they were used. During 2009–2010, the focus of the company was constricted to four main product groups:

  • Nanomagnetics
  • Thermal Spray Products and SPS
  • Sponsored Research
  • Specialty Industrial Coatings

Inframat® Advanced Materials LLC—It is a 100% owned subsidiary of Inframat® Corporation and was developed to focus efforts on the manufacturing, sourcing, and distribution of advanced materials across the world. Inframat® has proficiency in the flourishing field of nanomaterials and will continue to provide a robust technology advantage in this area by means of its Advanced Materials subsidiary, which is co-located with the parent company.

US Nanocorp®, Inc. (USN)—It was set up in 1996 as a means to identify, develop, and market innovative technologies in the field of energy storage and energy conversion devices that harness the unusual properties of nanostructured materials. USN’s pioneering technology areas include thermal spray of active materials for thin-film battery and fuel cell electrodes, and the use of fuzzy logic techniques to handle the operation of fuel cells and batteries.

In the nanomaterials field, USN has created (i) nanofibrous manganese dioxide (Filox®) for advanced rechargeable lithium batteries and (ii) nanospherical nickel hydroxide (NanoxTM) for alkaline rechargeable batteries and electrochemical supercapacitors, sponsored under NIH, NSF, and the ATP (NIST). USN is creating intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cell components and large-area thin-film battery electrodes using industrial thermal spray methods, sponsored under the Army, DOE, and the Navy.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

A list of the leading academic institutions in Connecticut that offer courses and research programs in nanotechnology and nanoscience is given below.

Institute for Regenerative Engineering—Performs nanotechnology-based research on the use of nanotechnology in tissue engineering applications.

Yale University supports the study of nanotechnology via the research groups listed below:

  • Elimelech Lab: Performs studies of nanomaterials in aquatic systems. By and large, the scientists in this lab focus on diverse disciplines, including colloid/surface science, molecular biology, nanotechnology, and separation science.
  • Ismail-Beigi Research Group—Performs nanotechnology research on the topics mentioned below:
    • Organic/inorganic interfaces for photovoltaics: covalently bonded P3HT/ZnO and P3HT/carbon nanotube junctions
    • Nanostructures
      • GaN nanotubes
      • Boron nanotubes and 2D sheets: structure, conductivity, electronic states, etc.
      • Carbon nanotubes
      • Metal-doped boron nanostructures
    • Optical response, electron excitation, and photoluminescence
      • Molecules
      • Carbon nanotubes
      • Solid-state defects: for example, bulk silica
      • GaN nanotubes and nanowires
  • Nanoelectronics Laboratory—Handles modeling, fabrication, and characterization of devices and materials. Their existing projects include:
    • Thermoelectric transport under large temperature gradients
    • Phase-change memory
    • Instrument development
    • Solid-liquid phase change oscillators
    • Silicon crystallization by self-heating for large-area electronics
    • Light emission from zinc oxide nanorods
    • Multi-gate silicon transistors for low power applications

University of Connecticut: Offers a nanotechnology minor program that supports the study of nanotechnology.

Recent Developments

The Southern Connecticut State University recently planned to execute the NanoProfessor Nanoscience Education Program as part of an initiative to support the study of nanotechnology. NanoInk’s NLP 2000 Desktop NanoFabrication System and NanoProfessor’s curriculum will be a part of the physics department at Southern Connecticut State University.

Western Connecticut State University plans to expand the study of nanotechnology by launching many new nanotech-based courses, with the first course dealing with an Introduction to Nanotechnology.

The medical field welcomed new nano-based technologies, with the newest being the development of a microfluidic device that can be used to detect oral cancer. Scientists from the University of Connecticut developed this new invention and also proposed that the microfluidic device can detect other kinds of cancer.

Assoc. Prof. Brian Willis of the University of Connecticut had developed a novel fabrication method called selective area atomic layer deposition involving rectennas or nano-antennas. This technique could offer the breakthrough needed to immensely enhance current solar energy systems.

These initiatives to raise the awareness of nanotechnology via education should begin to reap the benefits in the near future. Though it looks like biosciences and renewable energy are already starting to garner the prize in the state of Connecticut.

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