This article was updated on the 6th March, 2023
Germany is a Central European country covering an overall area of 357,022 km2. As of 2022, the country’s population exceeds 84 million.
Image Credit: Pixels Hunter/Shutterstock.com
Germany has the largest economy in Europe and the fourth largest globally. The economic status of the country has recovered from the recession phase that occurred between 2008 and 2009 by accepting both manufacturing orders and exports from beyond the Eurozone.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, where economies across Europe and the world contracted due to the pressures of restricted movement, supply chain disruption, loss of available workforce, forced closures of entire industries, and more, Germany remained strong. Its economy contracted by just under 5%. Since then, the German economy has improved and continues to do so.
According to 2021 estimates, Germany’s GDP was $4.259 trillion. Approximately 3.14% of this is invested in research and design. Germany’s economy is boosted by remarkable efforts in scientific research and development. The advancement of novel technologies, such as nanotechnology, has excellent economic potential, and numerous German companies are committed to developing, distributing, and applying nanotech-based products.
Through the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Germany is working to develop an innovation-friendly atmosphere, supporting market-oriented innovation, research, and development projects.
The country is seeking to achieve these through its innovation method that will:
- Initiate 200 groundbreaking university-based business start-ups.
- Offer seed finance for high-tech start-up companies.
- Offer funding through the newly established European Angels Fund.
- Launch new investment grants for venture capital.
- Encourage medium- and small-sized businesses to innovate.
- Introduce tax breaks for activities relating to research and development.
Germany had 110,000 innovative companies and 34,000 research companies in 2011. It was ranked third in the EU Commission’s Innovation Union Scoreboard after Sweden and Denmark. The country has been focused on preserving this position and, in doing so, has raised the number of research firms by 20,000 and inventive companies to 140,000 as of 2020. The country also has over 40 federal research institutions.
The following sections briefly introduce the major nanotechnology-related organizations in Germany.
The TUM Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology is dedicated to coordinating education and research in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology. A few of its research domains include nanosensors, nanophotonics, nanocrystalline semiconductors, and metallic nanostructures.
The organization examines the potential of nanotechnology by cross-linking nanotechnology capabilities from science, economy, and politics.
The organization supports novel activities in different enterprises and focuses on translating research results into new products and businesses. It supports research performed by companies and universities working toward the same objective of utilizing nanotechnology for upcoming developments.
This organization focuses on the study and analysis of nano-bioanalytics by creating strong collaborations between the science and business industries to ensure quick exploitation of research outcomes for the development of products, maximizing the nano-bioanalytical potentiality, and generating financial support.
As a non-profit organization, cc-NanoBioNet works to promote research and development activities by bringing together research institutes, hospitals, universities, and companies.
NanoNetzwerkHessen focuses on funding enterprises that deal with materials technology and nanotechnology. It plays a significant role in reinforcing the international innovative ability and competitiveness of numerous small- and medium-sized firms.
Fraunhofer Nanotechnology Alliance
This research organization serves to meet people’s requirements via its research activities. It also engineers and develops novel products and enhanced techniques. The organization handles applied research of direct utilities to public and private firms.
Germany is one of the most active nations in the world with respect to patent creation in nanotechnology, along with Japan and the United States. The following sections briefly introduce some of the key nanotechnology-focused companies based in Germany.
Accurion is focused on offering reliable, high-end, advanced technology for its two product lines—Active Vibration Isolation and Imaging Ellipsometry.
Aixtron manufactures metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) systems for various applications like photovoltaic materials, power electronics, and LEDs.
Anfatec specializes in developing, producing, and marketing scientific instrumentation for surface science, specifically scanning probe microscopes (SPMs) as well as components and controllers for SPMs.
AQUANOVA is a technological leader, supplying liquid solutions (solubilisates) and nanoscale encapsulation for pharmaceutical, cosmetics, health, nutrition, and general sectors.
Application fields of Attocube Systems include optical emission from carbon nanotubes (CNTs), nanogrippers and nanomanipulators, nanofocusing parabolic refractive X-ray lenses, and quantitative magnetic characterization on the nanoscale.
Covestro, a market and customer-oriented inventor company, is supporting the development of CNTs.
Center for Applied Nanotechnology (CAN GmbH)
CAN is a technology service provider that supports the use of innovative findings in chemical nanoanalysis and nanotechnology for research facilities and companies both in Germany and overseas.
Capsulution is a top nanotechnology enterprise specializing in the customer-oriented development of novel, market-oriented, and customized drug delivery solutions that seamlessly meet its customers’ requirements.
Capsulution is a spin-off of the Max Planck Society and a leader in the commercial utilization of new research outcomes from the area of nanotechnology. It is setting a new benchmark by using nanotechnology in the latest challenges of diagnostics, medical technology, and pharmaceutical therapy.
The Carl Zeiss group is a prominent organization of firms operating across the globe in the optical and optoelectronic sectors. It is largely involved in the field of nanotechnology via its industrial metrology, semiconductor manufacturing, and microscopy business units.
Carl Zeiss Microscopy is a leading manufacturer of electron microscopes and light microscopes worldwide. It produces compound light microscopes as well as an array of ion and electron microscopes, and fluorescence optical sectioning systems.
Carl Zeiss Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology has an extensive product portfolio spanning a broad range of major processes in microchip manufacturing, such as mask optimization and optical lithography. Chip manufacturers use Zeiss systems to create ever smaller, more energy-efficient, and faster microchips for each functional unit. In addition, Carl Zeiss has taken the first step into the future production of microchips with EUV lithography.
The business focus of Dreebit is on the fabrication, development, sales, distribution, and service of vacuum equipment and parts. It also focuses on facilities for nanotechnology and microtechnology based on electron and ion beam methods.
Evonik Industries is one of the top specialty chemicals companies in the world. Its specialty chemicals activities concentrate on high-growth megatrends, particularly nutrition, health, globalization, and resource efficiency. The company employs nanotechnology to improve processes and develop novel products and efficient solutions. This way, it makes a significant contribution to enhancing health, protecting the environment, and making lives more comfortable.
According to Evonik Industries, nanotechnology presents immense opportunities to enhance the generation and storage of energy. This also includes areas like mobile electronics and surface refinement, abrasion-resistant ceramic components, cosmetics, and catalysts that reduce the use of resources and boost the efficiency of production processes.
Three-dimensional (3D) surface metrology systems are provided by FRT GmbH for both production and research. The core activities of the company include the production, development, and global distribution of measurement software and equipment for metrology measurement of surfaces with nanometer and micrometer resolution.
FRITSCH is a globally respected producer of application-oriented lab instrumentation. For years, FRITSCH instruments have been used across the world for sample preparation in research and industrial laboratories, particle size reduction, and particle size analysis.
FutureCarbon focuses on developing and producing carbon nanomaterials and their enhancement to produce primary products or carbon super-composites for additional processing by industry. Carbon super-composites are essentially a mixture of materials that expose the unique properties of carbon nanomaterials in the macroscopic realm of real applications. All the materials of the company are produced on an industrial scale.
GXC Coatings integrates the most optimized traditions of optics and chemistry, which have been present at its site since the 19th century and have been part of its shareholder’s legacy. In 2000, these enduring experiences led to the establishment of GXC Coatings. Leveraging the growth opportunities in nanotechnology, GXC Coatings created the first coating materials for glass surfaces.
Since 2003, GXC Coatings has fueled advancements in polymer surfaces and new fields of application in protection and safety sensors, and added optics and displays to the current range. In 2009, GXC Coatings launched new, long-lasting solutions for self-cleaning surfaces used in entirely new markets.
The main activities of Hielscher Ultrasonics are focused on developing and producing ultrasonic devices for use in industrial and laboratory applications. Ultrasonic devices developed by Hielscher Ultrasonics are currently utilized in production plants and laboratories in all continents across the globe. The company incorporates its ultrasonic devices in intricate ultrasonic systems, like wire cleaning systems.
Image Credit: GrAl/Shutterstock.com
Based in Saarbruecken, Germany, ItN Nanovation AG is one of the world’s top nanotechnology companies creating next-generation water filtration systems for large industrial clients.
JPK Instruments is a top producer of nanoanalytical instruments, specifically based on optical tweezers systems and atomic force microscope (AFM) for life sciences as well as soft matter applications.
Kleindiek Nanotechnik is a young, customer-oriented high-tech company, committed to developing novel nano- and micro-positioning systems. Highly accurate positioning techniques are turning out to be increasingly significant because of miniaturization in micro-mechanics, optics, semiconductor technology, medicine, gene technology, and biotechnology.
Since 1992, Klocke Nanotechnik has been developing its Nanomotor technology, which means it had ventured into the market even before it was established. Klocke Nanotechnik’s initial microgripper was introduced in 1994, when there was nothing to grip. Currently, the company can gain from this long-time experience with associates across the globe.
LayTec is a leading market leader in the area of in-situ metrology for laser and LED production. It provides optical and other non-destructive, in-line, and in-situ metrology solutions for use in thin films. Since 2008, the company has also been promoting its established know-how for research and development beyond the semiconductor sector. These sophisticated in-line metrology solutions are developed and improved for large-area deposition methods like organic, polycrystalline, and amorphous thin-films.
Munich-based Leon-nanodrugs GmbH aims to implement recent developments in nanoparticle manufacturing to improve access to vaccines and cancer treatments.
NanoFocus AG develops, manufactures, and distributes measurement technology as well as software packages for defining technical surfaces. The company’s products include 3D and 2D scanning profilometers, in-line inspection systems, and confocal measurement systems.
Nanoscape specializes in supplying porous, nanocrystalline materials. The company develops customized application solutions for current CleanTech markets. In particular, Nanoscape delivers the following products:
- Encapsulation and triggered-release technology
- Ready-to-use coating formulations, suspensions, and dispersions
- Innovative porous materials with nanometer particle size
- Customized surface modifications and functionality
Nanoscribe deals in laser lithography systems, enabling the development of real 3D micro and nanostructures predicated on two-photon polymerization in UV-curable photoresists. Uniquely designed photoresists add to the exceptional performance in 3D microfabrication. The fundamental technology of direct laser writing (DLW) is a robust platform developed for a wide range of applications like life sciences, material research, (opto)electronics, photonics, and micro-optics.
This high-tech, precision machining company makes the tiniest devices at the nanoscale. The company supplies top semiconductor producers across the globe and also to all the industries that need ultra-precision components.
Omicron NanoTechnology is a leading company supplying analytical instrumentation solutions for the research and development of nanotechnology. The company develops novel instruments that deliver excellent performance and integrate analytical tools into advanced multi-technique analytical systems utilizing its “multi-technique” philosophy.
Particular develop nanoparticles from nearly all solid materials scattered in organic solvents or water. With the help of a physical laser ablation process, these nanoparticles attain a very high surface activity and purity.
Physik Instrumente (PI) specializes in manufacturing motion control and nano-positioning systems that offer the highest precision.
When PI introduced piezoelectric nano-positioning technology nearly four decades ago, the usual customers were universities and research laboratories working on Fabry-Perot interferometers, laser cavity tuning, and filters. Not many envisioned that whole industrial sectors like biotechnology or semiconductor manufacturing would come to rely on the advancement in nano-positioning. Now, even the precision machining industry has started to depend on nanometer-level positioning systems.
PlasmaChem produces nanomaterials, ultra-thin film, plasma, vacuum, and detonation technologies, and also explores their use in technical and biomedical fields.
In science and industry, RETSCH instruments are used for preparing samples for many different analytical techniques, and also for particle size analysis in the context of quality monitoring and production control.
The innovative Planetary Ball Mills of RETSCH both meet and exceed the need for rapid, reproducible grinding down to the nano range. These mills are employed in the most challenging tasks, ranging from colloidal grinding to regular sample processing and sophisticated materials development.
SENTECH Instruments GmbH specializes in developing, manufacturing, and marketing sophisticated quality instruments for photovoltaics (offline and inline measurement tools), thin-film metrology (ellipsometer, spectroscopic ellipsometer, and reflectometer), and plasma process technology (ALD, plasma deposition systems, plasma etcher, and custom-made solutions).
SÜSS MicroTec is known for supplying process equipment for microstructuring in the semiconductor sector and associated markets. The company’s portfolio covers a detailed range of solutions and products for photomask processing, wafer bonding, and backend lithography, supplemented by micro-optical components.
Sympatec specializes in developing, manufacturing, and selling an extensive range of advanced instruments for particle size analysis, such as ultrasonic extinction, laser diffraction, image analysis, and photon cross-correlation spectrometry. The Sympatec product range is mainly used in cement, pharmaceutical, food and beverages, chemical products, research and development, plastics, mineral raw materials, metal and magnetic powders, and inorganic raw materials.
Waldkirch-based Vitrocell produces state-of-the-art exposure systems for in vitro studies. Its technology has emerged in numerous publications recently, due to its application in Covid-19 research.
WITec has proven itself as a market leader in the area of nano-analytical microscope systems, such as SNOM, AFM, and Raman.
Image Credit: ALPA PROD/Shutterstock.com
Nanotechnology Research and Education
The following sections list some of the top academic institutes in Germany providing research programs and courses in nanotechnology and nanoscience.
Technische University Dresden
Ranked 82nd in the world in terms of its performance as an institution of nanoscience and nanotechnology, Technische University Dresden is one of Germany’s top universities for innovation in this field. The university is particularly focused on quantitative methods and studies that develop our understanding and mastery of nanoscale phenomena. Additionally, nanomechanics and nanoelectronics are a key focus of the institution, which the university’s research teams apply to develop novel strategies for exploiting devices and materials with nanoscale complexity.
Center for Applied Nanotechnology
The Center caters to research institutions and companies, providing contract research and development services in the field of nanotechnology. A few of their projects include:
- Development and improvement of nanostructured composite materials for innovative systems for the generation and storage of energy.
- Clinical diagnostics of Diabetes—In Vivo Imaging of Beta cell Receptors by Applied NanoTechnology (VIBRANT).
The university supports nanotech study via the Center for Nanoscience, which, in turn, supports and coordinates interdisciplinary studies in the nanoscience field in the Munich area and consolidates nanoscale research activities from the fields of medicine, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and biophysics.
Jacobs University of Bremen
The university supports study and research in the area of nanotechnology through the NANOFUN Research Center for Functional Materials and Nanomolecular Science. The Center uses basic molecular and theoretical knowledge to develop functional nanostructures and materials. The research domain of nanomolecular science and functional materials extends into numerous disciplines.
University of Kassel
The university supports nanotechnology-based research and studies through the institutes mentioned below:
- Institute of Nanostructure Technologies and Analytics works on research and development of optical as well as optoelectronic devices with micro and nanostructure technologies, focusing on application-oriented fundamental research.
- Center for Interdisciplinary Nanostructure Science and Technology (CiNSaT) develops nanoscience activities in association with the departments of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, natural sciences, mathematics, and philosophy. CiNSaT focuses on theoretical analysis, synthesis, and characterization and application of nanostructures.
The university provides an interdisciplinary bachelor’s program in Microtechnology and Nanostructures that covers important aspects of physics with engineering sciences. The program focuses on miniaturization and emphasizes the development of an interdisciplinary technique to interpret and use nanostructured and microfabricated systems.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
The Center for Functional Nanostructures performs studies on nanostructures with biological, optical, electronic, and energy storage and conversion functions. Nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, nanoenergy, and nanobiology are the research areas of this centre.
University of Konstanze
The university performs studies in the field of nanotechnology via the Collaborative Research Center 767 Controlled Nanosystems, the objective of which is to explore the interaction between nanostructures and their macroscopic setting and also among themselves. A few of their project areas are given below:
- Time-dependent transport in correlated electron nanostructures
- Terahertz quantum optics with semiconductor nanostructures
- Optically controlled phonons in nanostructures
- Structural control of nano-scale model systems
University of Hannover
The university performs studies in the area of nanotechnology via the Institute for Solid State Physics. The Nanostructures Group of the institute promotes nanotechnology-based studies through several research facilities, such as the following:
- The Laboratory of Nano and Quantum Engineering
- The Center for Quantum Engineering and Space-Time Research
- The School for Contacts in Nanosystems
CeNTech offers the infrastructure to enable direct and interdisciplinary associations between the faculties of the University of Münster. It performs studies on the development of novel nanotechnology-based innovations that can be advanced up to the product level.
RWTH Aachen University
The Central Lab for Micro- and Nanotechnology (ZMNT) serves as the core micro- and nanotechnology facility at RWTH Aachen University. The university recognizes the scientific and economic importance of nanotechnology, and with its dedicated facility, it aims to overcome current scientific limitations with the development of nanotechnology.
In 2022, a research team in Germany published the results of their work in the Journal of Optical Microsystems. These findings described new insights gained by combining experiments with calculations and simulations, which led to a deeper understanding of the reasons why placing transparent microspheres onto a sample enhances the resolution of an interferometry-based microscopy technique.
The team at the University of Kassel examined how light interacts with microspheres, increasing our understanding of the previously poorly understood enhancement. This nanotechnology breakthrough will be important for developing methods of probing delicate samples, such as biological systems.
In 2023, German pharmaceutical company Leon-nanodrugs GmbH, a globally-known disruptor of nanotechnology for the pharmaceutical industry, announced its latest technological breakthrough with its novel reactor. The innovation is important for the production of lipid nanoparticles, as well as for encapsulating mRNA or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The success of the project represents a significant milestone in product development, with product commercialization now on the horizon.
The product will be important to furthering research in the biopharmaceutical industry, particularly that which focuses on genetics.
At present, more than 700 research groups and university departments are studying nanotechnology, with more than 50% of these groups and departments pursuing studies in the materials sector.
Germany is a nation that embraces and encourages technology and innovation. It is committed to spearheading research, and interpreting how this helps in driving the economy. With the extent of research activity happening in this country, advances in nanotechnology will undoubtedly continue in the years to come.
Get in touch with us if your company is making a significant impact on the Australian nanotechnology market, we would love to hear from you.
References and Further Reading
Carlos Caceres, Mai Chi Dao, and Aiko Mineshima. 2021. Beyond the Pandemic: Five Charts on Germany’s Economic Recovery Plan [online]. International Monetary Fund. Available from: https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2021/07/13/na071521-beyond-the-pandemic-five-charts-on-germanys-economic-recovery-plan (Last accessed January 2023)
Central Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnology (ZMNT) [online]. ZMNT Aachen University. Available from: https://www.zmnt.rwth-aachen.de/ (Last accessed January 2023)
Germany's population grew strongly in the 1st half of 2022 [online]. Destatis. Available from: https://www.destatis.de/EN/Press/2022/09/PE22_410_12411.html (Last accessed January 2023)
LEON successfully completes development of its innovative reactor for more efficient production of lipid nanoparticles [online]. Yahoo Finance. Available from: https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/leon-successfully-completes-development-innovative-140000863.html (Last accessed January 2023)
Lisa Brown. 2022. The World’s Largest Economies, 2022 [online]. CEO World. Available from: https://ceoworld.biz/2022/09/05/the-worlds-largest-economies-2022/ (Last accessed January 2023)