Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Alabama, USA: Market Report

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Alabama is situated in the southeastern region of the United States and encompasses a total area of 135,765 km2. It had a population of 4,802,740 as of 2011.

The economy of Alabama relies on aerospace, retail, healthcare, technology, management, education, finance, manufacturing, and mineral extraction. It is home to hundreds of aerospace companies dealing in defense and space aviation. It also houses automotive manufacturing operations such as Honda, Mercedes, and Hyundai, as well as more than 90 biotechnology-related companies.

By 2008, the state provided a range of occupations, reducing its dependence on the agricultural sector that began to decline in the 1960s.

The 2008 GSP of Alabama, according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis was $170 billion. Since the 1990s, the automotive manufacturing sector has contributed greatly to enhance Alabama’s economic growth rate. The industrial outputs of the state include steel and iron products, plastic, wood products, apparels, paper, trucks, cars, mining, electronics, lumber, and aerospace products.

One of the biggest plus points for companies working out of Alabama is the quality of the state’s workforce, and its highly esteemed workforce development training program. Alabama’s tax structure and incentives, transportation network, highly ranked business climate, low electricity pricing, and site availability also make it an appealing proposition to locate a business in the state.

Nanotechnology Companies

The key nanotechnology-related companies in Alabama are provided below together with a short introduction:

The AEgis Technologies Group

A privately held small business headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, USA, AEgis offers advanced technology and expert consulting services to industries across the world. AEgis focuses on micro/nanoscale technology development, and modeling and simulation (M&S).

AEgis’ Nanogenesis Division shines in advancing modern micro and nanoscale technologies from concept to deployment, with applications spanning from energy to defense to biotechnology.

CFD Research Corporation (CFDRC)

It focuses on engineering simulations and advanced designs for biomedical, aerospace, defense, energy, materials, and other industries. Using its software and experimental facilities, the company creates new hardware concepts, prototypes, and innovative designs. It has more than 50 patents awarded or pending in the areas of biotechnology, propulsion, combustion, and materials.

CytoViva

It was jointly developed by Aetos Technologies, Inc. and Auburn University. CytoViva’s optical microscopy technology is a 2006 and 2007 recipient of the coveted R&D 100 award. This award is granted each year to the most groundbreaking new technologies in the market. In 2007, CytoViva also received a Nano50TM award, for its role in the fast-growing domain of nanotechnology research. In 2009, US patents No. 7,542,203 and 7,564,623 were issued for CytoViva’s cutting-edge microscopy illumination optics.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Some of the top academic institutes in Alabama offering courses and research programs in nanotechnology and nanoscience are mentioned below:

Alabama A&M University

It provides research in the field of nanotechnology via the following organizations and projects:

Science and Engineering Projects—Alabama A&M University performs nanotechnology science and engineering research projects that cover the following subjects:

  • Nano-antenna
  • Nano-lithography
  • Nano-powder and applications
  • Nano-structures
  • 3D devices using nanoscale materials
  • Carbon-based nano-composites
  • Synthesis of nano-layered

North Alabama Nanotechnology Organization—The organization encourages interdisciplinary research and contract among government agencies, industries, universities, and government laboratories.

Tuskegee University

It encourages research in nanotechnology via the following nano-based research centers:

Alabama Center for Nanostructured Materials (ACNM)—It develops and characterizes nanostructured materials by infusing nanoparticles at the nascent stage of synthesis of a range of bulk materials. The materials are used in lasers, optics structures, and other kinds of thermoelectric devices to improve the performance of these devices.

Alabama Nano/Biotechnology and Sensors Workforce Development—It conducts research on the progress of nanofibers, metal oxides, and metals.

Alabama State University—It conducts nanotechnology research via the following research center:

Center for NanoBiotechnology Research (CNBR)—It aims to improve research infrastructure and conduct high-quality research in the domain of nanotechnology. The main research topics of this center include:

  • Structural studies of RSV at nanoscale, and viral inhibition by nanoparticles
  • Development of Nanobiomaterials for drug delivery
  • Carbon nanotube attached with ssDNA as a nanosensor for sensing Salmonella Typhimurium
  • Delivery of nanoparticle encapsulated anti­chlamydial peptides in an animal model

Auburn University

It promotes the significance and advantages of nanotechnology through research carried out by AMNSTC.

Alabama Micro/Nano Science and Technology Center (AMNSTC)—It supports educational activities and interdisciplinary research within the state of Alabama and Auburn University. It covers research relating to nanotechnology dealing with carbon nanotubes.

University of Alabama

It conducts nanotechnology research via the following research center:

Nano and micro devices center—Targets the analyses of integrated nano-and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The ECE courses offered in micro and nanotechnology include:

  • Plasmonics and Metamaterials
  • Transistor Fabrication Laboratory
  • Sensor and Actuator Design
  • Nanoscience and Engineering

Recent Developments

In October 2012, the Center for NanoBiotechnology Research at Alabama State University received a five-year grant of $4,995,710 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant will facilitate research in diagnosing and treating numerous diseases, including the new field of nanogenomics.

The University of Alabama in partnership with Tuskegee University plans to develop nano modules to improve the interest of students in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering fields. Tuskegee University was bestowed a grant totaling about $16 million towards the creation of a wide range of nano-based projects. One of these grants valued at $9.9 million, will be used for the growth of a science education partnership with schools in the Black Belt region.

Alabama has such significant grants for boosting the awareness and importance of nanotechnology in research centers, universities, and schools, and initiatives like the Alabama Launchpad fostering entrepreneurs. With these, Alabama should be prepared to welcome a whole new generation using nano-based products and services in the near future, if these initiatives are achieved.

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