Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Ohio, USA: Market Report

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Located in the Midwestern United States, the state of Ohio covers an overall area of 116,096 km2. As of 2011, it had a population of 11,544,951. The 2010 GDP of the state was $478 billion, with 18.3% contribution from the manufacturing and financial sectors.

Ohio’s manufacturing sector is the single largest contributor to the state’s GDP. In 2011, the manufacturing sector of Ohio ranked third in the United States with respect to the number of people employed by the sector.

A leading manufacturer of rubber, electrical equipment, fabricated metals, appliances, and plastics, Ohio is also the country’s pioneer in the “green economy” and owns the largest bioscience sector in the Midwestern United States.

Jobs-Ohio.com reported that Ohio’s rate of unemployment is its lowest since 2008 at just 6.9% (as reported in March 2013 at the time of printing). Moreover, it has a business-friendly tax environment and offers low taxes on new capital investments. The state also has abundant skilled labor and several of the public universities offer business services, facilities, and resources to promote entrepreneurship.

Nanotechnology Organizations

A short introduction to the major nanotechnology-related organizations in Ohio is given below.

Nano-Network—Founded by researchers, entrepreneurs, and financiers, this organization focuses on enhancing and widening the research and marketing of nanotechnology. The organization also conducts a series of events like sessions and meetings that allow nano-community members to share their views on nanotechnology, as well as to stress the nanotechnology developments in Ohio.

Ohio Third Frontier—Offers funding to nonprofit research organizations, technology-based universities, and companies in Ohio to foster the development of new technology-based products, industries, companies, and jobs.

Nanotechnology Companies

Mentioned below are the key nanotechnology-related companies in Ohio, with a short introduction to each of them.

Angstron Materials

The company is dedicated to helping close the gap between innovation and application. Angstron Materials has used a multi-level strategic approach to establish a strong foundation to guarantee the success of the nanotechnology applications of its customers.

It is the first advanced materials company to deliver large quantities of pristine, ultra-thin nano-graphene platelets (NGPs). With its high-performance nano-graphene solutions, the company has also been considerably reducing production cost barriers. The company’s new 22,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Dayton, Ohio, will enable it to continue its research and development efforts while offering small to large batch processing and production.

Nanofilm Ltd

Nanofilm Ltd has been one of the earliest pioneers of nanotechnology. In the early 1980s, Dr Scott Rickert, Nanofilm co-founder, was already working on self-assembling thin films as part of his research as a professor at Case Western Reserve University. The company was launched as a spin-off of that work and was co-founded in 1985 by Dr Rickert and businessman Don McClusky. The initial expertise of the company allowed the manipulation of coatings at the molecular level to improve the clarity, durability, performance, and ease of use of transparent materials.

The first commercialized product from Nanofilm was released in response to a requirement in the ophthalmic industry. A new breed of advanced polymeric eyeglass lens materials rendered old-fashioned coatings and conditioners outdated and undesirable. Perceiving the growing need for a new method, Nanofilm created ultra-thin coatings to protect, condition, and improve this new generation of optical surfaces and coatings.

Applied Sciences, Inc.

ASI is one of the pioneers in the synthesis of materials that have extremely high thermal conductivity. Materials that are being developed at present include carbon nanofibers, vapor-grown carbon fibers, nanomat, and conductive thin films. Apart from exceptional thermal performance, these materials have a number of other useful properties, such as low cost.

ASI has a long-standing history of development work financially supported by Army, Air Force, Navy, Ohio Department of Development, and National Institute for Science and Technology. Moreover, ASI has worked on product development projects for companies like GE Aviation, Polyone, and Northrop Grumman.

Microfabrication Solutions, Inc.

Microfabrication Solutions is a fast developing company that offers accurate, quick, economical opportunities for micro- and nanoscale device prototyping. With the main objective of MEMS Product Development, the company takes pleasure in offering design and fabrication services to customers with a broad array of application requirements. Existing research focuses on aerospace, nano-fluidics, bio-medical, micro-gravity, telecom, commercial microelectronic packaging products, life sciences, and drug delivery.

MetaMateria Partners

The company offers novel high-performance materials for the environmental, energy, and infrastructure markets, with a special focus on the applications of nanomaterials. Core capabilities are harnessed to develop nanomaterials for several applications in which product performance is optimized or new products are created. Products readily available for commercial use include:

  • Nanoparticle colloids
  • Environmental cleanup media
  • Complex ceramic parts fabrication
  • Nano-enabled cement additives

Nanotech Innovations

Nanotech Innovations is located in Oberlin and remains at the forefront of nanotechnology research in northern Ohio. The objective of the company is to enable carbon nanotube technology in small laboratories. The company’s benchtop system for making high-purity nanotubes offers convenient and economical access to these fascinating materials and allows them to be used in research, education, and product development projects.

SNS Nano Fiber Technology

Established in January 2007, SNS Nano Fiber Technology originated due to a collaborative effort between the University of Akron and Schill & Seilacher, a German family-owned chemical company with a legacy of innovative research.

To begin with, the main objective of SNS was to expand the electrospinning process such that large particles could be directly added to the spinning solution, to realize optimal dispersion. As soon as this aim was realized, further optimization and advancement of the process were essential.

Currently, SNS has the potential for full-scale continuous production of nanofibers with a width of up to 1 m. It is possible to spin the fibers onto a substrate, such as a netting or a nonwoven surface. Alternatively, the fibers can be fabricated as a self-supporting mat of nanofibers. In February 2011, the facility became ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485:2003 certified.

Tesla Nanocoatings, Inc.

Tesla NanoCoatings is a company that produces protective coating (paint) formulations. It produces Teslan® Carbon NanoCoating in a two-coat system that can be used as an alternative to a conventional three-coat system widely used for corrosion protection of steel.

Carbon nanotubes that self-assemble into rope structures are used in Tesla’s coatings, rendering them flexible, tough, and highly conductive. Tesla’s coatings offer unmatched corrosion control and extended service life, thereby saving costs and improving safety.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Mentioned below are some of the major academic institutes in Ohio that offer research programs and courses in nanotechnology and nanoscience.

The Ohio State University

The university fosters the awareness and significance of nanotechnology through the research centers and laboratories listed below:

  • Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and Devices (CMPND): Focuses on developing nanostructures and developing protocols for industrial polymeric nanocomposites, innovative polymer photonic devices and components, as well as for biomedical devices and systems with nanoscale properties. CMPND performs research on nanocomposites, biomedical devices, and polymer photonics.
  • Center for Affordable Nanoengineering of Polymeric Biomedical Devices: Creates nanomaterials and nanoengineering technology that are economical and polymer-based. This enables the manufacture of superior-quality multifunctional polymer-nanoparticle-biomolecule nanostructures, medical diagnostic devices, and cell-based devices used in medical and pharmaceutical sectors. The center offers the following core and elective courses:
    • The core course offers an introduction related to current research in the field of nanotechnology. This is a seminar-style class including presentation by students, guest lectures, and written assignments.
    • The elective course includes:
      • Physics—organic electronic, magnetic, and photonic materials
      • Mechanical Engineering— nanomechanics, nanotribology, and nanomaterials characterization for nanotechnology
      • Biomedical Engineering—Fundamentals of biomedical microscopic imaging
      • Biomedical Engineering—bio-interfacial phenomena and surface functionalization
  • Electronic Materials and Nanostructures Laboratory (EMNLAB): offers the nanotechnology research facilities listed below:
    • Interdisciplinary Nanoscale Materials Laboratory
    • Nanoscale SIMS and MBE Facility
    • Cleanroom Facilities
    • Surfaces and Interfaces Laboratory
  • ENCOMM NanoSystems Laboratory: Offers access to optimized material fabrication and characterization tools to academic and industrial users, for applications in a range of development and nanotechnology activities.
  • Nanotech West Laboratory: Works toward the use of micro- and nanotechnology. The current research programs of the laboratory deal with:
    • Advanced materials and characterization
    • Electronics
    • Energy
    • Optics
    • Biology
    • Medicine

University of Cincinnati

The university fosters the advancement of nanotechnology through the center mentioned below:

  • Center of Excellence in Nanoscale Technology Sensor: Focuses on the development of novel technology to offer micro- and nano-sensors that can be employed in environmental, biological, medical, and chemical fields.

Ohio University

The university promotes the importance of nanotechnology through the nanotechnology research centers listed below:

  • Nanoscale and Quantum Phenomena Institute: Performs research on “soft nano” and “hard nano.” It offers the following research topics: Nanoscale properties, manipulation, and assembly; Quantum structures, nanocrystals, and nanosensors; Nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, nanomagnetism, and nanospintronics.
  • Havener Eye Institute Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science: Makes use of nanotechnology to deliver proper medication to patients with AMD, as well as to study the mechanisms involved in glaucoma.

Miami University

Miami University fosters the implications of nanotechnology through the nanotechnology research center mentioned below:

  • The Miami University Center for Nanotechnology (MUCN): Handles problems associated with the education, research, safety, and commercialization of nanotechnology. As part of its efforts, the MUCN:
    • Performs research on commercialization and safety of nanotechnology, as well as other nanotechnology-related fields
    • Organizes nanotechnology-based workshops, exhibits, and talks to emphasize the significance of nanotechnology to K-12 students and teachers
    • Offers nanotechnology-based courses to scientific and engineering professionals

University of Dayton

The university promotes the awareness and significance of nanotechnology through the nanotechnology-based summer institute mentioned below:

  • Nanotechnology Summer Institute: Provides a nanotechnology course to middle-school and high-school mathematics, science and technology, and engineering teachers. The course covers the following topics:
    • Nanoscience
    • Nanofabrication
    • Carbon nanotubes
    • Metamaterials
    • MEMS
    • Biomimetics
    • Lesson planning and curriculum integration
    • Electron microscopy
    • Cleanroom tour

Recent Developments

Scientists from Ohio State University discovered how the wing of the Blue Morpho butterfly could help arrest the growth of bacteria in medical equipment. Initially, the researchers endeavored to investigate the microscopic textures of the wing of this specific butterfly, as well as the texture of leaves of the rice plant, Oryza sativa. Plastic replicas of both the microscopic textures were developed and later compared with that of plain flat surfaces, fish scales, and sharkskin to test the potential of the wing and the rice leaf to repel dirt and water.

Following the study, the scientists created molds of the wing and the leaf in silicon replicas and cast plastic. Then, their surfaces were covered with a particular coating of nanoparticles. After a line of tests, the researchers summed up that the rice leaf’s texture can be applied to promote fluid flow in micro-devices or oil pipelines. By contrast, the butterfly wing’s clapboard roof texture will help arrest the growth of bacteria in medical equipment.

Another breakthrough in the field of nanotechnology was achieved by researchers from the University of Akron. They developed a synthetic technology based on the research on the ability of a gecko to scale walls, and to adhere to any type of surfaces. The microscopic hairs present beneath the gecko’s foot offer high-friction adhesion, which has a vital role to play in the movement of the gecko.

The researchers attempted to reproduce these microscopic hairs after gaining insights into the biomechanics of the gecko’s feet. Using this concept, ADAP Nanotech created a thermal pad known as Nano TIM that contains millions of carbon nanotubes placed on very thin silica and polymer layers. Thus, the carbon nanotubes present in the thermal pad will have the potential to repel moisture and dirt, thereby offering safe air travel.

Led by Saw-Wai Hla, researchers from Ohio University have employed bottom-up production technology to develop a molecular motor.

The nanotechnology industry in Ohio has grown healthy, with products that are ready to hit the market already. The state also has a steadfast culture of nanotechnology education and research that will certainly help widen the nanotechnology industry.

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