Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Minnesota, USA: Market Report

Minnesota is located in the Midwestern United States. It covers a total area of 225,181 km2and had an estimated population of 5,379,139 in 2012.  

Over the last 200 years the economy in Minnesota has transformed from one dominated by raw materials to one based on finished products and services. In 2011, Minnesota’s GDP was $282 billion according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Manufacturing forms the backbone of Minnesota's economy. So it is not surprising to find that 19 Fortune 500 companies are located in Minnesota, of which 8 are manufacturers. In 2009, their medical device manufacturing industry was ranked second in the nation.

Minnesota is also a national leader in biosciences and ranked third in the US for patents per capita in 2010.

They are a leader in biofuels and wind, and were ranked in the top 5 states for clean technology in 2010 and are committed to nurturing the growth of clean tech companies. With a collaborative environment, strong ecosystem, supportive public policies and a skilled and highly educated workforce, Minnesota makes a strong case for clean tech companies to locate there.

In February 2013, Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment figure had dropped to 5.5%, well below the national figure of 7.7%.

Nanotechnology Companies

The major nanotechnology-related companies in Minnesota are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:

Cima NanoTech’s products include nanomaterial-based formulations for use as transparent conductive coatings in devices such as plasma displays, touch screens and solar cells.

Nanocopoeia - Nanocopoeia has grown into a major nanotechnology player in just 10 years. The core patents obtained from the University of Minnesota cover the use of ElectroNanospray™ to create nanoparticles out of virtually any material that can be put into solution or suspension.

Recognizing that the process equipment used to create medical device coatings can also create therapeutic nanoparticles for directed delivery, Nanocopoeia sharpened its focus on drug delivery in 2008.

NVE Corp - NVE Corporation develops and sells devices using spintronics, a nanotechnology they helped pioneer, which utilizes electron spin rather than electron charge to acquire, store and transmit information.

They make spintronics practical by manufacturing high-performance products including sensors and couplers that are used in industrial, scientific, and medical applications. They have also licensed their spintronic magnetoresistive random access memory technology, commonly known as MRAM.

Sensors acquire information, couplers transmit information, and memories store information. Thus their technology can provide the eyes, nerves, and brains of electronic systems.

3M Corp - 3M is a global innovation company that never stops inventing. Over the years, their innovations have improved daily life for hundreds of millions of people all over the world. They have made driving at night easier, made buildings safer, and made consumer electronics lighter, less energy-intensive and less harmful to the environment.

3M scientists and researchers are exploring a new world at a nanometer level, where materials exhibit unique physical, chemical and biological properties. These unusual properties are already being exploited in their dental restoratives and brightness-enhancing optical films for LCD displays. Many 3M technology platforms, including adhesives and coatings, are also being enhanced by the emergence of nanotechnology.

ArcNano - Arcnano employs state of the art manufacturing technologies and processes in a wide variety of disciplines spanning clean room wafer scale fabrication, precision machined parts, complex materials and electronics to make sensors, systems and mission critical components.  Arcnano serves the semiconductor, photonics, data storage, medical, military, aerospace, instrumentation, and national laboratory markets using skilled technical staff with the highest quality, a can-do attitude, and a strong devotion to the customer, delivering on-time, and building long term relationship.

Aveka Group - The AVEKA Group is a contract manufacturing and research & development company that focuses on particle technology. Their breadth of industry knowledge and wide spectrum of technology platforms allow them to provide unique insight and creativity which results in value-added products and services for their customers.

From lab scale samples to full-scale production, they have the manufacturing sites and quality systems to service a wide variety of applications and markets including specialty chemicals, industrial materials, food and nutraceuticals, pet food, agriculture, microelectronics, personal care, medical and pharmaceutical.

AVEKA produces nanoparticle dispersions for over 12 different industries, from aerospace and micro-electronics to manufacturing and medical device applications. They have the research and development infrastructure and production capabilities to formulate, design, and produce colloidal or nanoparticle dispersions to meet their clients' diverse market needs. They also work with both liquid and emulsion dispersions.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

A brief introduction to the leading academic institutions in Minnesota offering courses and research programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology through their research centers is given below:

University of Minnesota - Promotes research and study of nanotechnology through the following nanotechnology research centers and groups.

  • Center for Nanostructure Applications - Is involved through the following activities:
    • Faculty engaged in University of Minnesota
    • Nano-related workshops
    • Nano-related research
    • Announcements on nano related news
    • Calls for proposals
    • Conferences and national and regional nanotechnolgy related events.
  • Nanofabrication Center - Offer appropriate expertise and tools to researchers enabling them to develop nanoscale and micro technologies that include nanostructured materials, microsensors, integrated circuits, micro-optical systems and thin film coatings.
  • Mechanical Engineering Department - The University of Minnesota’s Mechanical Engineering Department are involved in the following nanotechnology research activities:
    • Exploring applications of highly uniform semiconductor nanocrystals.
    • Working on new nanoparticle-based medical imaging techniques and cancer therapies.
    • Analyzing the health and environmental impacts of gas-borne nanoparticles.
    • Creating new diagnostic tools and therapies for medical applications.

Recent Developments

The University of Minnesota are quite active in the field of nanotechnology. In their 2012 research highlights they reported:

  • The first all-gas phase manufacture of a nanocrystal-based electronic device
  • Nanoscale magnetic sensors and associated electrodes with low resistivities
  • Development of a universal template for producing nanoporous materials by nanocasting
  • High efficiency silicon nanocrystal light emitting devices
  • Imaging dopant atoms in semiconductor nanocrystals using electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) with annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy (ADF-STEM)
  • ZnO Nanowires for DNA electrophoresis
  • Printed, flexible carbon nanotube flexible circuits
  • Hot electron transfer from semiconductor nanocrystals
  • Auger recombinations in quantum dot materials
  • ABC triblock thin films for large area nanolithography
  • Robust hydrophilic nanoporous membranes

They also secured $8.1m in funding to establish The Nanoporous Materials Genome Center from the US Department of Energy. This center will develop high-end computational tool to characterize and predict the performance of millions of advanced materials at the nanoscale.

It seems that the University of Minnesota is committed to work in nanotechnology and consequently should keep producing new developments. Minnesota is also a leading light in the medical devices field, it is likely that this will be an area of nanotech development in the near future, along with clean technology.

Sources and Further Reading



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