Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Oregon, USA: Market Report

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Oregon is situated in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and spans a total area of 255,026 km2. As of 2012, it had a population of 3,899,353.

Oregon’s 2011 GDP was $194.7 billion, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis. The manufacturing sector was the single largest contributor.

Oregon also claims to have international competitive benefits in five industry sectors:

  • Forestry and wood products
  • High technology
  • Clean technology
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Outdoor gear and activewear

The advanced manufacturing industry is the core of Oregon's economy and contributes 10% of private sector jobs. The industry is highly competitive and continues to invent and prosper, producing everything from medical products and precision instruments, to steel fabrication and trucking.

Oregon has many high-tech companies that have made a name for the state across the world and has, in turn, resulted in the development of sectors such as digital displays, bioscience, and software development.

Oregon, is aiding local companies to compete in the international marketplace through the Oregon Innovation Council (InC) and the High Tech Extension Service. It enables them to access state-of-the-art research and development facilities, and 450 scientists who can help turn ideas into prospects. These facilities include the ONAMI Signature Research Center that promotes nanotechnology. The program is sponsored by state, federal, and private grants and has helped form 18 companies so far.

Nanotechnology Organizations

A short introduction to the main nanotechnology-related organization in Oregon is given below:

Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing Initiative (SNNI)

SNNI aims at creating a range of nanomanufacturing methods and nanomaterials that are environmental friendly and cause minimal harm to human health. It carries out research into nanoparticle chemistry and uses the principles of green chemistry in nanoscience so as to create high-performance nanomaterials, and economical and efficient manufacturing methods for these nanomaterials.

Nanotechnology Companies

The key nanotechnology-related companies in Oregon are mentioned below, together with a short introduction to each of them:

FEI

It is the world leader in the production and distribution of electron microscopes, including transmission electron microscopes (TEM), scanning electron microscopes (SEM), focused ion beam tools (FIB), and DualBeam™ instruments for nanoscale research, serving a wide range of customers worldwide. FEI’s international customer base includes scientists, lab managers, engineers, researchers, and other skilled professionals.

CSD Nano

The company distributes high-performance, patent-pending Anti-Reflective Coating (ARC) technology to solar-cell companies to boost their product performance.

Anti-reflective (AR) coatings for photovoltaic (PV) cover glass are of considerable interest to the solar industry since they provide a direct way to boost module efficiency, thereby lowering $/Watt. Vacuum deposited multi-layer AR coatings have long been employed in other applications.

Yet, for solar PV modules, these coatings suffer from two major disadvantages: they decrease reflection in a comparatively narrow wavelength range and they are only effective in a restricted range of incident angles. Furthermore, the cost of vacuum-deposited multi-layer coatings is too high for PV cover glass use, particularly in light of the latest price pressures experienced by solar module manufacturers.

Bio-inspired silica anti-reflective films from CSD Nano work on the principle of the light gradient index of refraction. Gradient surfaces have a low net reflectance based on destructive interference of an infinite series of reflections; each with an incremental variation in refractive index.

AcryMed

It is a pioneer in the development of advanced wound care and infection control technologies. In response to growing antibiotic-resistant pathogens and the increased concern for medical device-related infections, AcryMed researchers have focused their efforts on identifying solutions to improve the efficacy of medical products and enhance patient care.

The company was the first to effectively add the infection-fighting properties of ionic silver with its proprietary moisture-control wound dressings as well as wound-care gels under the brand name SilvaSorb®. SilvaSorb® products are extensively recognized by medical professionals as the standard-of-care for chronic wounds and burns, and are presently distributed by Medline Industries.

Leveraging its proficiency in silver antimicrobial technology, AcryMed has been able to derive the benefits of nanotechnology with the broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity of ionic silver in the creation of SilvaGard®, an engineered surface treatment for medical devices.

Rogue Valley Microdevices

Set up in 2003, the company was the first to establish a microelectronics manufacturing plant in beautiful Southern Oregon. Its MEMS foundry & manufacturing facility contains processing equipment capable of large-scale manufacturing yet sufficiently flexible to house wafer sizes from 50 to 300 mm. Rogue Valley Microdevices offers full Device Fabrication and Design services together with a range of individual processes to support its growing network of satisfied customers.

Rogue Valley’s MEMS Foundry Capabilities include Wet and Dry Etch, PECVD Nitride, PECVD Oxide, Front to Back Alignment, Low Stress LPCVD Nitride, Metal Lift off, PECVD Silicon Carbide, Amorphous silicon, PolySilicon, Thermal Oxidation, N2/H2 Annealing, and a range of PVD films.

Applied Physics Technology

APTech handles both production and development of electron emitting materials and electron sources. Tailored design and fabrication capabilities augment the company’s standard catalog items to meet its customers’ requirements. Partnering is available for more challenging product necessities, mostly for main component realization.

Applied Physics Technologies maintains an active role in fundamental electron emission research and publication, striving to bring the latest ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

Norsam Technologies Inc.

It delivers microscopic, high technology products and services to its customers. The company runs a lab located in Hillsboro, Oregon and maintains a corporate office in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The company offers precision microscale products and services to materials science, microscopy, metrologic, semiconductor, and other industrial and research customers.

The company has created a microfilm replacement technology for archival preservation which replicates microscopic pages of text and illustration onto metal or silicon discs; the newest development in these technologies is the NanoRosetta™ archival preservation system, which utilizes special microscopic processes to offer analog and/or digital data, data or pictures onto nickel plates (or onto gold or silver colored polymer discs).

Densities of about 50,000 pages can be accomplished on a 150-mm nickel wafer. The nickel wafer is much more long-lasting as compared to microfilm/microfiche and acts as a replacement for those less archival media.

Dune Sciences

It is a technology company focusing on products and services that allow the development and marketing of nano-enabled products. The company uses numerous patented and patent-pending technologies to build interfaces for the integration of new materials and devices in energy technologies, medicine, bionanotechnology, and nanoscience.

Dune Sciences is the only manufacturer of active, or functionalized, TEM grids in the world which allows users to see more clearly on the nanoscale. The patent-pending SMART Grids products are sold worldwide directly from Dune Sciences or from one of its distributors.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Some of the top academic institutes in Oregon offering courses and research programs in nanotechnology and nanoscience are mentioned below:

University of Oregon

It encourages study on nanotechnology through the research centers mentioned below:

Center for Advanced Materials Characterization in Oregon (CAMCOR)—It offers facilities to support research in bioscience, nanoscience, materials science, chemistry, and geology. CAMCOR’s Nanofabrication and Imaging Facility offers equipment used for supporting nanofabrication, electrical characterization methods, and high-resolution electron microscopy.

ONAMI—The institute’s main nanotechnology-based research areas include:

  • Green Materials Chemistry
  • Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing
  • Nanometrology, Nanoelectronics, and Nanobiotechnology
  • Microtechnology-Based Energy and Chemical Systems

Oregon State University

The university supports nanotechnology-based study and research through the following research centers and courses:

Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering Department—It provides a Nanotechnology Processes Option as part of the undergraduate chemical engineering program. This is a new initiative that allows students to comprehend how to apply the key skills of the ChE discipline in producing nano-based products.

Nanomaterial-Biological Interactions Knowledgebase—It performs the following operations to highlight the hazards linked with nanomaterial exposure by defining the associations between nanomaterial physicochemical properties and the biological responses to their exposure. The different tasks are mentioned below:

  • Predicts potential biological influences of unsynthesized nanomaterials
  • Identifies the functional design principles of high performing, environmentally-benign nanomaterials
  • Organizes and examines data and compares outcomes across research platforms in an effort to describe strong structure-activity relationships
  • Acts as a repository for annotated data on the physicochemical properties of nanomaterials and their biological interactions

Recent Developments

Scientists at Oregon State University recognized the possibility and advantages of accelerating the speed of prototype nano-biosensors that can be used in the field of medicine, and also in the development of new drugs, environmental monitoring, and toxicology.

Specialists feel that these biosensors can help carry out speedy medical lab tests and allow doctors to diagnose diseases within a short span of time. Through this new discovery, the scientists emphasized the unique competences of carbon nanotubes.

Pacific University received a $40,000 grant from Medical Research Foundation of Oregon New Investigator Award for a research project entitled “Mitigation of doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity by naturally occurring polyphenols delivered using polymeric nano-systems.”

In the meantime, CSD Nano reached the semifinals in the Willamette Angel Conference, which could net them an investment stake of more than $200,000.

Oregon is fairly active in the area of nanotechnology. Government-lead initiatives are helping to promote the case. If these initiatives continue, there is no reason that nano-related activity should decline, so the state of Oregon should be on the radar for nanotech developments in the days ahead.

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