Nanotechnology in Iowa, 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 Companies
Nanotechnology Research and Education
Recent Developments


Iowa is located in the Midwestern United States. It covers a total area of 145,743 km2 and has a population of 3,062,309 as of 2011.

Iowa had a GDP of $149 billion in 2011 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. They have a diversified economy with the manufacturing contributing just over 20% of their GDP. The other main contributors to their GDP include services, government, trade and finance and insurance.

The prioritization of advanced manufacturing in Iowa has resulted in great success. In recent times, they have consistently achieved top 10 rankings (2011) for manufacturing nationwide and a 24.5% growth in manufacturing GDP, well above the national average.

The Bioscience industry is also thriving in Iowa, with a Batelle report (2010) stating that, "no other location in the country has such a complete suite of capabilities for bioscience development.

There is also a commitment to renewable energy in Iowa. They produce 3.7 billion gallons or 28% (2011) of the country's ethanol, more than any other state. They also rank 3rd in the nation for biodiesel production, generating 325 million gallons or 12% of the nation's capacity. Iowa also produces the highest percentage of total wind power at 22.89% (2011). They also rank second in wind power generation output and capacity.

According to data produced by CNBC (2012), Iowa rated in the top 10 states of the US for business friendliness and had the second lowest cost of doing business (2012, based on a 5 year average). Iowa is also one of few states to drive innovation into business by way of refundable research activity credits.

Nanotechnology Companies

The major nanotechnology-related company in Iowa is described below:

BioForce Nanosciences Inc - BioForce Nanosciences, Inc. develops and commercializes nanotech instruments, consumables and applications for the life sciences.  The Company has been providing consumable support products for atomic force microscopy (AFM) for over a decade. In 2005 BioForce introduced its own flagship instrument platform, the Nano eNabler™ system.  

The Nano eNabler system is a molecular printer that rapidly and precisely delivers liquids to surfaces such as silicon chips in droplets that are ten billion times smaller than a drop of blood.  This unique capability offers researchers in industry and academia a practical solution to problems they encounter when developing ultraminiaturized devices and methods, and creates opportunities for further commercialization of nanotechnology.

Novascan Technologies - Since the late 1990's Novascan has been a nanotechnology company that specializes in atomic force microscopy (AFM). Our products include typical Atomic Force Microscopes as well as specialized Atomic Force Microscopes that can be integrated with a variety of complimentary instruments such as confocal microscopes, Laser optical traps, and a host of optical microscope setups. Our design team is ready to help you with your special hardware and software needs.

Novascan also offers custom AFM tips with particles and surface chemistries, UV Ozone surface cleaning systems, AFM acoustic isolation hoods, and vibration isolation systems. Our tools are used worldwide by top researchers to visualize, characterize and manipulate microscopic and nanoscopic environments.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

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

The University of Iowa - Promotes the study of nanotechnology through the following research programs:

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute: Offers the following nanotechnology programs:

  • Nano Health: This program focuses on the development of nanohealth applications in the following fields:
    • Drug delivery
    • Disease detection
    • Imaging
    • Bioanalytical assays
  • Nano Materials: This program deals with research and study on the following topics:
    • Characterization of Nanomaterials
    • Synthesis of New Nanomaterials
    • Development of Nanomaterials for Defense and Other Applications.
    • Quantum Theory and Modeling of Condensed Phase Matter at the Nanoscale
  • Nano Enviro: The projects in this program include:
    • Green Chemical Processing
    • Environmental Remediation and Decontamination
    • Energy (e.g. Solar and Fuel Cells)
    • Nanoparticles in the Natural Environment
    • Nanoparticles Impact on Air Quality
  • Nano Tox: This program includes the following nanotechnology-based projects:
    • Environmental Health
    • Human and Animal Toxicity of Nanoparticles
    • Nanoparticle Measurements in the Workplace Environment
    • Nanoparticle Protection Measures

Iowa State University - Promotes the study of nanotechnology through the following research groups:

  • Lin Research Group: Conducts research on the fundamentals of nanoscopic and microscopic structure formation at interfaces and surfaces. Some of the current nanotechnology research projects include:
    • Nanocrystal Sensitized TiO2 Nanotube Solar Cells.
    • Quantum Dots Tailored with Conjugated Polymers and Their Use in Solar Cells.
    • Self-Assembly of All-conjugated Poly(3-Alkylthiophene) Diblock Copolymers and Their Use in Nanohybrid Solar Cells.
    • Synthesis and Applications of Magnetic, Ferroelectric and Multiferroic Nanocrystals.
    • Low-Cost, High-Efficiency Solar Cells Based on Copper Zinc Tin Sulfide (Cu2ZnSnS4) Nanocrystals.
    • Synthesis of Upconversion Nanocrystals and Their Use in Solar Cells.
    • Nanocomposites with Long-Range Hierarchical Order Based on Block Copolymers Embedded with Ferroelectric/Superparamagnetic Nanoparticles.
    • Multi-Arm Star-Like Functional Block Copolymers via ATRP and RAFT.
    • Self-Assembly of Highly Ordered Complex Structures via Controlled Evaporation of Confined Microfluids.
  • Center for Nanotechnology in Cementitious Systems: Specializes in the science of cementitious materials and uses nanotechnology to enhance the performance and sustainability of concrete structures and roads.
  • Center for Nanoscience and Catalysis: Focuses on designing heterogeneous solid catalysts using nanoscience techniques to study the selectivity of homogeneous catalysts and biocatalysts with turnover numbers, long lifetimes of the catalysts and minimal wastes. The center conducts nanotechnology research projects on the following topics:
    • Multi-functionalized Nanoporous Silica Catalyst for Chemical- and Regio-Controlled Polymerization
    • Nanoporous Solid Catalysts for Conversion of Soybean Oil to Biodiesel
  • Institute for Physical Research and Technology: Conducts research in nanotechnology through the following research centers:
    • Center for Catalysis: Focuses on the development of and sustainable green chemistry and practical catalysts methods. Conducts research on the applications of new technologies in industrial, environmental science and agricultural fields.
    • Center for Nondestructive Evaluation: Develops noninvasive methods and instruments to study the integrity of structures and materials.
    • Microelectronics Research Center: Develops advanced devices, materials and process technologies in solar energy conversion, photonics and semiconductor fields.

Recent Developments

Researchers from the Iowa State University have created a tool that can be used to carry out plant cell-deliveries. By using this tool, nanotechnology researchers delivered a chemical and a gene into the walls of plant cells to study the expressions of the genes.

In another recent discovery, researchers detected a defect that can appear in quasicrystals. This new defect was detected after researchers found strange nano-sized areas on the surfaces of the quasicrystals. The defect passed beyond the surface region and spread into the bulk of the quasicrystal. This discovery proves that the usage of nanostructures to study the relationship between bulk and surface defects in materials provides more insights as to why these nanostructures are mostly strong.

There appears to be no shortage of nanotechnology research taking place in Iowa. The attractive business climate and financial credits available in conjunction with university expertise, make Iowa a prime location to establish a nanotech startup and it should only be a matter of time before more activity in the nanotech space is reported from Iowa.


Tell Us What You Think

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

Leave your feedback