Nanotechnology in Germany: Market Report

Germany is located in Central Europe. It covers a total area of 357,022 km2 and has a population of 80,457,737 as of 2017 estimates.

Germany has a social market economy that is Europe’s largest and the fifth largest in the world. Germany’s economic status has recovered from the recession phase between 2008 and 2009 by accepting manufacturing orders and exports from outside the Euro zone. Germany’s GDP as of 2018 estimates was $4.029 trillion. About 69.3% of the total GDP is contributed by the service sector, 30.1% by the industrial sector and 0.6% by the agricultural sector as of 2017 estimates.

The research and development efforts in the science sector play a significant role in Germany’s economy. The development of new technologies like nanotechnology has great economic potential and there are a great number of German companies focused on the development, application and distribution of nanotech-based products.

Germany, through the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, is working to create an innovation-friendly environment, promoting market-oriented research, development and innovation projects.

They are looking to accomplish this via their innovation strategy that will:

  • Introduce tax breaks for research and development activities
  • Encourage small and medium sized businesses to innovate
  • Introduce new investment grants for venture capital
  • Provide funding via the recently established new European Angels Fund
  • Provide seed finance for high-tech start-ups
  • Initiate 200 innovative university-based business start-ups

In 2011, Germany had 34,000 research companies and 110,000 innovative companies, and ranked 3rd in the EU Commission's Innovation Union Scoreboard behind Sweden and Denmark. They are committed to maintaining this ranking and in the process increasing the number of research companies to 20,000 and innovative companies to 140,000 by the year 2020.

Nanotechnology Organizations

A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organizations in Germany is given below.

NanoTUM - The TUM Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology focuses on coordinating research and education in nanotechnology and nanoscience. Some of their research areas include metallic nanostructures, nanocrystalline semiconductors, nanophotonics and nanosensors.

Cluster Nanotechnology - Explores the potential of nanotechnology by cross-linking nanotechnology competences from politics, economy and science.

Nanovalley - Supports innovative activities in various enterprises and focuses on transferring research results into new businesses and products. This organization supports research conducted by universities and companies that work towards the same goal of using nanotechnology for future developments.

Bioanalytik-muenster - Focuses on the study and research of nano-bioanalytics by developing strong contacts between the business and science sectors to ensure rapid exploitation of research results for product development, generating financial support and increasing the nanobioanalytical potentiality.

cc-NanoBioNet - A non-profit organization that supports research and development by bringing together companies, universities, hospitals and research institutes.

The NanoNetzwerkHessen - Concentrates on the funding of enterprises dealing with nanotechnology and materials technology. This organization plays a vital role in strengthening the international competitiveness and innovative ability in various small and medium sized companies.

Fraunhofer Nanotechnology Alliance - A research organization that serves to meet the needs of people through their research activities and also by designing and developing new products and improving techniques. This organization undertakes applied research of direct utilities to private and public companies.

Nanotechnology Companies

Germany is one of the world’s most active countries in terms of patent creation in nanotechnology, along with the US and Japan. Some of the major nanotechnology-focused companies in Germany are listed below along with brief introductions to each of them:

Accurion - Accurion GmbH is dedicated to providing high-end, reliable, state of the art technology for its two product lines - Imaging Ellipsometry and Active Vibration Isolation.

Aixtron - Aixtron produce Metal Organic Chemical Vapour Deposition (MOCVD) systems for applications such as LEDs, power electronics, and photovoltaic materials.

Anfatec - Anfatec develops, produces and sells scientific instruments for surface science, mainly scanning probe microscopes (SPM), controllers and components for scanning probe microscopes.

Aquanova - AQUANOVA is a technologically leading supplier of solubilisates (liquid solutions) and nanoscale encapsulation for nutrition, health, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and general industries.

Attocube Systems – Attocube Systems’ application fields include quantitative magnetic characterization on the nanoscale, optical emission from carbon nanotubes, anofocusing parabolic refractive x-ray lenses, and nanomanipulators and nanogrippers.

Bayer MaterialScience - As a market and customer-oriented inventor company, Bayer MaterialScience is promoting the development of carbon nanotubes (CNT). For example, Bayer MaterialScience's own laboratories are currently perfecting the cost effective industrial production of CNTs, because the demand for innovative, intelligent and environmentally friendly market solutions is growing all the time.

CAN - The Center for Applied Nanotechnology (CAN GmbH) is a technology service provider that promotes utilization of new findings in chemical nanotechnology and nanoanalysis for companies and research facilities in Germany and abroad.

Capsulution - Capsulution are a leading nanotechnology enterprise specialized in the customer-specific development of tailored, innovative and market-oriented drug delivery solutions that perfectly meet the needs of their customers.

As a spin-off of the Max Planck Society, their enterprise is a pioneer in the commercial utilization of the latest research results from the field of nanotechnology. They are opening up new frontiers by applying nanotechnology to the modern challenges of pharmaceutical therapy, medical technology and diagnostics.

Carl Zeiss Microscopy - The Carl Zeiss group is a leading organization of companies operating worldwide in the optical and optoelectronic industry. Carl Zeiss is heavily involved in the world of nanotechnology through its microscopy, semiconductor manufacturing and industrial metrology business units.

As a world leading manufacturer of both light and electron microscopes, Carl Zeiss Microscopy manufactures compound light microscopes as well as a diverse range of fluorescence optical sectioning systems, electron and ion microscopes.

Carl Zeiss Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology has a broad product portfolio covering a wide range of key processes in microchip manufacturing, including optical lithography and mask optimization. Zeiss systems enable chip manufacturers to produce microchips that are ever smaller, faster and more energy-efficient per functional unit. Carl Zeiss have also taken the first step into the future microchip production with EUV lithography.

Dreebit – Dreebit’s business focus is development, fabrication, sales and distribution, and service of vacuum equipment and components, and facilities for micro and nanotechnology based on ion and electron beam techniques.

Evonik Industries - Evonik is one of the world's leading specialty chemicals companies. Their specialty chemicals activities focus on high-growth megatrends, especially health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization.

Evonik uses nanotechnology to develop innovative products and efficient solutions and to enhance processes. In this way, they make an important contribution to protecting the environment, improving health and making lives more comfortable.

Evonik believe nanotechnology opens up enormous opportunities to improve the production and storage of energy, and in areas such as surface refinement and mobile electronics, catalysts that increase the efficiency of production processes and minimize the use of resources, as well as in cosmetics and abrasion-resistant ceramic components.

Fries Research and Technology - Fries Research & Technology GmbH (FRT) offers 3D surface metrology system for research and production. Their main activities are the development, production and worldwide distribution of measurement equipment and software for metrology measurement of surfaces with micro and nanometer resolution.

FRITSCH - FRITSCH is an internationally respected manufacturer of application-oriented laboratory instruments. FRTISCH instruments have been used for decades worldwide for particle size analysis, particle size reduction and sample preparation in industry and research laboratories.

FutureCarbon - FutureCarbon specializes in the development and manufacture of carbon nanomaterials and their refinement to create carbon super-composites or primary products for further processing by industry. Carbon super-composites are combinations of materials that unfold the special characteristics of carbon nanomaterials in the macroscopic world of real applications. All of their materials are manufactured on an industrial scale.

GXC Coatings - GXC Coatings combines the best traditions of chemistry and optics, which have been part of their shareholders legacy and which were present at their site since the 19th century. In 2000, these long-lasting experiences led to the foundation of GXC Coatings. Capturing the chances of the rise in nanotechnology, the young company developed the first coating materials for glass surfaces.

Since 2003, GXC pushed developments for polymer surfaces and new areas of application in safety and protection, sensors, and displays and optics were added to the existing portfolio. In 2009, GXC introduced new, lasting solutions for self-cleaning surfaces employed in completely new markets.

Hielscher Ultrasonics - Hielscher's activities are focused on the development and production of ultrasonic devices for use in laboratory and industrial applications. Today, ultrasonic devices made by Hielscher Ultrasonics are being used in laboratories and production plants on all continents across the world. Hielscher Ultrasonics integrates the ultrasonic devices into complex ultrasonic systems, such as wire cleaning systems.

ItN Nanovation - ItN Nanovation AG, based in Saarbruecken, Germany, is one of the leading nanotechnology companies in the world, developing innovative water filtration systems for large industrial customers.

JPK Instruments - JPK Instruments are a lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­er of nanoanalyt­i­cal in­stru­ments, par­tic­u­lar­ly based on atom­ic force mi­cro­scope (AFM) and op­ti­cal tweez­ers sys­tems, for life sci­ences and soft mat­ter ap­pli­ca­tions.

Kleindiek Nanotechnik - Kleindiek Nanotechnik is a young, customer oriented high-tech company, focusing on developing innovative products in micro and nano-positioning.

Due to miniaturisation in semiconductor technology, optics, micro-mechanics, medicine, and gene and biotechnology, highly precise positioning techniques are becoming increasingly important.

Klocke Nanotechnik - Klocke Nanotechnik have been developing their Nanomotor technology since 1992, effectively meaning Klocke Nanotechnik entered the market even before it existed. Their first microgripper was presented in 1994 but at that time there was nothing to grip. Now, Klocke Nanotechnik can benefit from this long-time experience with partners all over the world.

LayTec - LayTec is the world market leader in the field of in-situ metrology for LED and LASER production. LayTec offers optical and other non-destructive in-situ and in-line metrology solutions for thin film applications.

Since 2008, LayTec has also been marketing its proven expertise for R&D and industrial applications beyond the semiconductor industry. These advanced in-line metrology solutions are designed and optimized for large-area deposition techniques such as amorphous, polycrystalline and organic thin-films.

NanoFocus - NanoFocus AG is a developer, manufacturer and distributor of measurement technology and software packages for the characterization of technical surfaces. Their products include 2D and 3D scanning profilometers, confocal measurement systems and in-line inspection systems.

Nanoscape – Nanoscape is a leading provider of porous, nanocrystalline materials and a developer of tailored application solutions for today’s CleanTech markets. Specifically, Nanoscape provides:

  • Novel porous materials with nanometre particle size
  • Tailored surface modifications and functionality
  • Ready-to-use dispersions, suspensions and coating formulations
  • Encapsulation and triggered-release technology

Nanoscribe - Nanoscribe produces laser lithography systems, allowing for the fabrication of true three-dimensional micro and nanostructures based on two-photon polymerization in UV-curable photoresists. Specifically designed IP-photoresists contribute to the unique performance in 3D microfabrication. The underlying technology of direct laser writing (DLW) is a powerful platform for a variety of applications such as micro-optics, photonics, (opto)electronics, material research and life sciences.

nanotools - nanotools is a high tech, precision machining company, making the smallest devices to the nanometer. They are a supplier to the leading semiconductor manufacturers worldwide, as well as to all industries that require ultra-precision components.

Omicron NanoTechnology - Omicron NanoTechnology is the world’s leading supplier of analytical instrumentation solutions in nanotechnology research and development. They create innovative instrumentation with state of the art performance and combine analytical tools into sophisticated multi-technique analytical systems using their “multi-technique” philosophy.

Particular - Particular produces nanoparticles from almost any solid material dispersed in water or organic solvents. Using a physical laser ablation process, their nanoparticles achieve a very high purity and surface activity.

Physik Instrumente – Physik Instrumente manufactures nano-positioning and motion control systems of the highest accuracy. When PI introduced piezoelectric nano-positioning technology almost 40 years ago, typical customers were research labs and universities working on laser cavity tuning, Fabry-Perot interferometers and filters. Few foresaw that whole industrial sectors like semiconductor manufacturing or biotechnology would become dependent on progress in nano-positioning. Today, not even the precision machining industry can do without nanometer-level positioning systems.

PlasmaChem - PlasmaChem GmbH. manufactures nanomaterials, detonation, vacuum, plasma and ultra-thin film technologies, and investigates their biomedical and technical applications.

RETSCH - RETSCH instruments are used in science and industry for preparing samples for a wide range of different analytical methods, as well as for particle size analysis in the context of production control and quality monitoring. RETSCH’s innovative Planetary Ball Mills meet and exceed all requirements for fast and reproducible grinding down to the nano range. They are used for the most demanding tasks, from routine sample processing to colloidal grinding and advanced materials development.

Sentech Instruments - SENTECH Instruments GmbH develops, manufactures, and sells advanced quality instrumentation for thin film metrology (reflectometer, ellipsometer, spectroscopic ellipsometer), photovoltaics (inline and offline measurement tools), and plasma process technology (plasma etcher, plasma deposition systems, ALD, and customized solutions).

Süss MicroTec - SÜSS MicroTec is a leading supplier of process equipment for microstructuring in the semiconductor industry and related markets. Their portfolio covers a comprehensive range of products and solutions for backend lithography, wafer bonding and photomask processing, complemented by micro-optical components.

Sympatec - Sympatec develops, manufactures and sells a wide range of state of the art instruments for particle size analysis including laser diffraction, ultrasonic extinction, photon cross correlation spectrometry and image analysis. The primary applications of the Sympatec range of products are pharmaceutical, chemical products, cement, food and beverages, inorganic raw materials, metal and magnetic powders, mineral raw materials, plastics, research and development.

WiTec - WITec has established itself as a market leader in the field of nano-analytical microscope systems (Raman, AFM, and SNOM).

Nanotechnology Research and Education

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

Center for Applied Nanotechnology - Offers companies and research institutions contract research and development services in the area of nanotechnology. Some of their projects include:

  • Development and optimization of nanostructured composite materials for new systems for energy generation and storage.
  • Clinical diagnostics of Diabetes – In Vivo Imaging of Beta cell Receptors by Applied NanoTechnology (VIBRANT).

Ludwig-Maximilians-University - Promotes nanotech study through the Center for Nanoscience, which promotes and coordinates interdisciplinary research in the field of nanoscience in the Munich area and consolidates research activities at the nanometer scale from the areas of physics, biophysics, chemistry, biochemistry and medicine.

Jacobs University of Bremen - Promotes study and research in the field of nanotechnology through the NANOFUN Research Center for Functional Materials and Nanomolecular Science, which applies fundamental theoretical and molecular knowledge for the development of functional materials and nanostructures. The research area of functional materials and nanomolecular science extends into diverse disciplines.

University of Kassel - Promotes nanotechnology-based study and research through the institutes given below:

  • Institute of Nanostructure Technologies and Analytics, working on research and development of optical and opto-electronical devices with micro and nanostructure technologies with focus on fundamental research that is always application-oriented.
  • Center for Interdisciplinary Nanostructure Science and Technology (CiNSaT), developing nanoscience activities in collaboration with the departments of mathematics, natural sciences, electrical engineering, computer science, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and philosophy. CiNSaT deals with the synthesis, theoretical analysis, characterization and application of nanostructres.

Saarland Universities - Offers an interdisciplinary bachelor’s program in Microfabrication and Nanostructures. This program covers fundamental aspects of physics with engineering sciences and a focus on miniaturization and emphasis on the development of interdisciplinary approach to understanding and using microfabricated and nanostructured systems.

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology - The Center for Functional Nanostructures conducts research on nanostructures with optical, electronic, biological, and energy storage/conversion functions. Their research areas include nano-photonics, nano-electronics, nano-biology, and nano-energy.

University of Konstanze - Conducts research in the filed of nanotechnology through the Collaborative Research Center 767 Controlled Nanosystems, which aims to study the interaction of nanostructures with their macroscopic environment and among themselves. Some of their project areas include:

  • Structural control of nano-scale model systems
  • Optically controlled phonons in nanostructures
  • Terahertz quantum optics with semiconductor nanostructures
  • Time-dependent transport in correlated electron nanostructures.

University of Hannover - Conducts research in the field of nanotechnology through the Institute for Solid State Physics. The institute’s Nanostructures Group supports nanotechnology-based research through a number a research facilities, such as:

  • The School for Contacts in Nanosystems
  • The Center for Quantum Engineering and Space-Time Research
  • The Laboratory of Nano and Quantum Engineering.

CeNTech - Provides the infrastructure for direct and interdisciplinary collaborations involving faculties of the University of Münster and conducts research on the development of new nanotechnology based inventions that can be developed up to the product level.

Recent Developments

Researchers from the Institute of Polymer Research at Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG) and the Institute of Material Science at Kiel University (KU) recently published an article on the research study that derived how a membrane with polymer fibers and proteins can be developed into a filter for tiny, anon-scaled particles in aqueous solutions. These researchers discovered how protein undergoes a change underwater. The resulting materials are able to capture all the metal nanoparticles during the filtration process.

BASF, a leading chemical company, has been conducting the Dialog Forum Nano since 2008. This forum aims to promote transparent communication about nanomaterials. Through this forum, BASF aims to establish itself as a company that not only uses new technologies to develop new products, but also provides good communication about these new technologies with representatives from labor unions, research institutes, industry, consumer and environmental organizations and churches.

The 2012 Nanotechnology Conference in Düsseldorf aimed to encourage members in Texas and Germany to improve the market potential for nanotechnology. These new discoveries in the field of nanotechnology and the initiative taken by many companies, educational institutions and research centers to promote the awareness and significance of nanotechnology establish the fact that Germany is a nanotechnology hub and will continue to be so in the future.

There are currently over 700 university departments and research groups that are researching nanotechnology, with over half of these departments and groups pursuing research in the materials industry.

Germany is country that encourages and embraces innovation and technology and is committed to remaining at the forefront of research, understanding how this helps drive the economy. With the amount of research activity occurring in Germany, there is no doubt that developments in nanotechnology will be continue to be forth coming.

Sources and Further Reading

This article was updated on 29th April, 2019.

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