Nanotechnology in Rhode Island, USA: Market Report

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Nanotechnology Organizations
Nanotechnology Companies
Nanotechnology Research and Education
Recent Developments


Rhode Island, located within the New England province of the Appalachian Region, covers a total area of 3,140 km2 and has a population of 1,050,292 as of 2012.

Rhode Island's 2011 GDP was $50.1 billion, up from $33 billion in 2000. Its economy is based on a number of growing industries which include healthcare, financial services, marine products, defense and manufacturing.

The state of Rhode Island also encourages innovation in manufacturing through services such as:

  • Innovation tax credits of up to 50% (max. $100,000)
  • Manufacturing tax credits up to 4% for new facilities and machinery and equipment used in production processes
  • High performance manufacturer investment tax credit up to 10%
  • Research and development tax credit up to 22.5%
  • Assistance with workforce development programs, export programs and site selection

Nanotechnology Organizations

A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organization in Rhode Island is given below:

Rhode Island Consortium for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology - Is a collaboration between Brown University and the University of Rhode Island and focuses on the development of research projects under topics such as nanohealth, nanotools and nanomaterials. This consortium is also involved in developing and purchasing of instruments that can be used for "seeing," manipulating and measuring at the nanoscale.

Their projects concentrate on the development and implementation of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials that can be used to obtain renewable and sustainable energy. Usage of nanomaterials in biotechnology and health care is also part of their research work.

Nanotechnology Companies

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

The NanoSteel Company - NanoSteel is the world leader in proprietary nano-structured steel material designs. Over its ten-year history, NanoSteel has created progressive generations of iron-based alloys from surface coatings to monolithic steel. For the oil & gas, mining and power industries, NanoSteel has successfully introduced commercial applications of metallic coatings to prolong service lifetime in the most extreme industrial environments. For the automotive industry, NanoSteel has achieved a significant breakthrough in the development of nano-structured sheet steel with exceptional strength and ductility. NanoSteel is a privately held company funded by lead shareholders EnerTech and Fairhaven Capital.

Solaris Nanosciences - Solaris' primary mission is to provide low manufacturing cost, high efficiency and long life solar cells to capture a major portion of the projected growth of the global renewable energy market. Equity financing and Company resources are used exclusively towards this goal. However, since Solaris' NanoAntennaTM materials present a number of other large market opportunities which are validated in part by the development of high efficiency photovoltaics, they have begun to pursue these other applications through externally funded collaborations, contracts, and agreements. These other applications of their nano-antenna technology and intellectual property include the enhancement of human vision, high performance liquid crystal displays, and chemical and biological sensing.

Reade Advanced Materials - Reade Advanced Materials was established in 1983 by Mr. Charles Reade, Jr. as a new READE® business unit. It continues the historical Chemical Division of the family business as a manufacturer, value add custom & toll processor / packager, and global "factory packed" distributor of higher technology specialty chemical solids (metal, alloy, mineral, ceramic, composite, polymer, enzyme, nanomaterial, and other custom compositions).

Nabsys - Nabsys is dedicated to enabling advances in life sciences and healthcare through strategic deployment of a novel positional sequencing platform with broad applicability for DNA analysis. The Nabsys platform uses solid-state nanodetectors to analyze single DNA molecules, revealing both location and identity of DNA sequences over long distances. The system is designed to set new standards for accuracy, speed and scalability, offering compelling advantages for the analysis of genome structural variation, genome mapping, and both targeted and whole genome sequencing. Nabsys was the first company to receive a “$1000 Genome” award from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health for an electronic approach to sequencing DNA.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

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

The University of Rhode Island - Is involved in nanotechnology through the following center, while the Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Chemical Engineering also have involvement in nanotechnology.

Brown University - Promotes the significance of nanotechnology through the research centers described below:.

  • Laboratory for Innovation in Nanostructured Carbon: Concentrates on the development of nanomaterials and structures and on the effective usage and implications of these nano materials for human health and the environment. Current research is based on the following topics:
    • Nanomaterials and the natural environment
    • Mechanistic nanotoxicology
    • Synthesis and applications of 3D graphene architectures
    • Carbon materials and mesogenic materials
  • Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation- Supports research groups and centers working on molecular and nanosciences. The key research departments working in this area are:
    • Nanohealth Initiative
    • Center for Advanced Materials Research
    • Center for Nanoscience & Soft Matter
  • Nano & Micromechanics Laboratory: Conducts research and provides education on the computational, theoretical and experimental study of micromechanics and nanomechanics of materials. The laboratory’s current research on nanostructures includes:
    • Nanotribology
    • Metal Surfaces reshaping by Ion Bombardment
    • SWCNT cutting by Sonication
    • Nanopipe
    • Nanoasperity
    • Nanotube

Recent Developments

The drive for new innovations in the field of nanotechnology in Rhode Island is increasing with universities and companies exploring the nanotechnology field through a number of research projects and development of new nanotechnology-based products.

A student from the University of Rhode Island recently invented Lego-based atomic force microscope that helps in promoting the study of nanotechnology among school students. This new device comprises a low-power laser, a Lego-Mindstorm controller and specific software that allow users to form a 3-D graph of a scanned sample.

At the same university, researchers have used nano fibers to connect nerves, proving more degrees of freedom for neural hand prostheses.

Other researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering have used nanotechnology to control alpha particles in the body, thus limiting the damage done to surrounding tissues while treating cancer.

Engineers from Brown University and QD Vision Inc. recently invented nanoscale single crystals capable of producing blue, green or red laser light suitable for digital displays. This discovery highlights the fact that all these colors can be produced from just one material thus replacing the usual method of using different semiconductor materials and long crystal growth processes to form just one color. This new nanotechnology-based method thus enables digital displays to show a wide range of colors simultaneously.

Brown University researchers have also shown how ingesting silver nanoparticles in antimicrobial health tonics can lead to the argyria, a condition where the skin turns a striking grayish blue shade.

Despite its diminutive size there appears to be a significant amount of nanotech activity in Rhode Island. The novel discoveries described in the article showcase the growth of nanotechnology in Rhode Island that is likely to become a state rich in nanotechnology in the coming years.


  1. United States Census Bureau - Rhode Island Quick Facts
  2. Widespread Economic Growth Across States in 2011 (PDF)
  3. Rhode Island - Economy and Workforce
  4. Rhode Island - Manufacturing
  5. Hand Neural Prosthetics (PDF)
  6. Advanced Cancer Treatment Using Alpha Particles (PDF)
  7. How Silver Turns People Blue


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