Nanotechnology in Sweden: Market Report

Sweden is located in Northern Europe. It covers a total area of 450,295 km2 and has a population of 9,103,788 as of 2012. It is one of the world's richest and most technologically advanced nations in the world.

Sweden has an export-oriented mixed economy. The country’s exports include paper products, machinery, iron and steel products, pulp and wood, chemicals and motor vehicles. The key imports include motor vehicles, petroleum and petroleum products, foodstuffs, chemicals, clothing, steel, iron and machinery.

The chief economically significant industrial sectors in Sweden include the automotive industry, telecommunications and the pharmaceutical industry. In 2011, the country’s GDP was $386.6 billion.

Nanotechnology Organizations

A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organizations in Sweden is given below:

KTH-USTC Joint Center for Bio- and Nano-Materials - This center is the outcome of the joint collaboration of Sweden’s Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) and University of Science and Technology of China. This center focuses on the nanomaterials and biomaterials with emphasis on the development of multi-scale computational approaches for drug design, photonics, enzyme catalysis and electronics.

NanoDiara - A consortium that focuses on the development of nanotechnology-based diagnostic tools used for early detection of diseases and also on the development of new blood and urine nanotechnology-based diagnostic biomarker assays.

Nanotechnology Companies

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

Camurus - Camurus provides innovative nanoscale drug-delivery systems for development of high-value therapeutics. Their advanced delivery solutions range from long-acting depots to lipid nanocarriers designed for improved intravenous, transdermal and oral delivery. These are used in partner projects with biotech and pharma companies worldwide for enabling and improving delivery of a wide range of difficult drug compounds, including peptides, proteins, and insoluble small molecules.

Camurus also develop drug product candidates, which exploit the varied benefits of our proprietary FluidCrystal® and FluidCrystal® nanoparticle technologies. Camurus' in-house product portfolio addresses significant healthcare needs in areas of growth-hormone disorders, cancer, oncology supportive care, metabolic disease, and drug addiction - medicines that are innovative and effective and that offer added patient benefits, including improved safety and convenience of handling and administration.

Graphensic - Graphensic AB is located in Linköping, Sweden. The company is a spin-off from Linköping University research and was founded by Rositza Yakimova, Mikael Syväjärvi and Tihomir Iakimov. Graphensic produces high quality epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide (SiC) using a patented High Temperature Graphene Process.

Nanologica - Nanologica is a privately owned company, with principles from fields of nanotechnology, phototonics, finance and economics. Their mission is to stabilize, encapsulate and conserve activities. They customize material properties to tackle issues pertaining to solubility, stability and controlled release prevalent in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sector, amongst others. By customizing the properties of their materials such as particle size and morphology, pore size and structure, and chemical functionalization of the surface, they can solve their customers’ problems to benefit consumers all over the world.

Micronic Mydata - Micronic Mydata develops, manufactures and markets laser mask writers, one of the world’s most advanced production systems used for photomask production. Micronic Mydata has more than three decades of experience of microlithography and photomask printing. The display mask writers are industry standard.

Oasmia - Oasmia Pharmaceutical AB develops a new generation of drugs within human and veterinary oncology. The product development aims to manufacture novel formulations based on well-established cytostatics which, in comparison with current alternatives, show improved properties, a reduced side-effect profile and an expanded therapeutic area. The product development is based on in-house research within nanotechnology and company patents.

Porenix - Porenix provides innovative nanotechnology for high-performance filtration, purification and extrusion. Their product line includes TEM windows,  membrane filters and filter holders.    

Porenix membranes offer 4 times higher permeability than the polymeric ion-track-etched membranes. The membranes are based on their inexpensive and efficient nanofabrication process enabling to produce billions of nanopores in thin silicon nitride membranes.

Qunano - Founded in Sweden in 2005, QuNano works to commercialize cutting-edge, proprietary semiconductor and non-semiconductor nanowire technology in diverse fields such as solid state electronics, solid state illumination, highly efficient photovoltaics, and the life sciences. QuNano enjoys a uniquely close cooperation with scientists at Lund University’s Nanometer Structure Consortium (nmC) and works to build a global intellectual property portfolio and to commercialize the cutting edge quantum nanoscale inventions of nmC participants and of QuNano scientists.

QuNano has also recently invented a process for synthesis of nanowires in the aerosol phase, termed “aerotaxy.” In recent months, QuNano has turned its attention to a family of non-semiconductor, oxide-based nanowires that are used as a sacrificial template during processing to produce useful hollow nano-structures for biomedical applications.

Q-sense - Q-Sense develops and markets research instruments based on the patented Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) technology. Their products are suitable for studying molecular interactions and surface science, as QCM-D measurements provide information about mass and structural changes at the nanoscale level.

Since 1999, when the first commercial QCM-D instrument was created, Q-Sense has become the leading supplier of acoustic resonator-based instruments. Their instruments are found in over 25 countries worldwide and there are currently over 1000 publications citing the use of the QCM-D technology.

Silex Microsystems - Silex Microsystems, the world’s largest pure-play MEMS foundry, is driving the sensory system revolution, partnering with the world’s most innovative companies to commercialize MEMS technologies that can change the world.

The lifecycle for MEMS development is complex and requires deep and specialized knowledge and expertise as a product goes from early prototypes to initial production to high volume manufacturing. Silex is dedicated to getting customers quickly, cost-effectively and reliably through this product development lifecycle with their expertise in rapid commercialization of MEMS products, and their proven, stable, high-volume MEMS manufacturing capabilities.

Smoltek - Smoltek was founded in 2006 to develop and on a commercial basis provide a unique substrate based conductive nanoscale technology, primarily to the semiconductor industry.

The company bases its offerings on its IP platform on how to control growth of carbon nanostructures and develops processes compliant with semiconductor industry demands.

Smoltek is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, and is utilizing the state of the art nanoscience research facilities at Chalmers University of Technology.

Sol Voltaics - Sol Voltaics AB ("Sol") is a venture-backed, development-stage nanotechnology company focused on development and commercialisation of a method of producing portable, semiconductor nanowire-based high-efficiency solar cells using a low-cost, very high volume production method based on guided self-assembly of nanowires in the gas phase.

The company holds key international intellectual property rights in the areas of nanostructure material growth, fabrication and devices as applied within the field of solar spectrum photovoltaics. In addition, the company is the only commercial participant in a key photovoltaic research project with several prominent international partners under the auspices of the European Union’s Framework 7 nanotechnology program.

Spago Imaging- SPAGO was established in 2007 and is now located in Lund, Sweden. SPAGO Imaging is a biotechnology company with expert capabilities in contrast agent and nanoscale life science research.

The main focus of the company is the development of an innovative and proprietary MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) contrast agent for earlier and more specific visualization of soft tissue tumors than is currently available.

SPAGO Imaging encompasses many years of experience from the contrast and pharma industries, including discovery research, early clinical and business development.

Obducat - Obducat is the world-leading supplier of lithography solutions for manufacturing and replication of advanced micro- and nano- scale structures.
 Obducat is a Sweden-based supplier of lithography solutions for production and replication of advanced micro- and nanostructures for industrial mass production as well as for research and development.

Obducat technologies enable the development and cost efficient manufacturing of next generation consumer products such as cameras, hard disks for mobile phones, flat panel displays for TVs etc.

Their goal is to provide their customers with viable and cost-effective lithography solutions that will give a competitive edge to the customers, enabling them to deliver break through applications and achieve improved profitability and success.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

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

Chalmers University of Technology - Promotes the significance and study of nanotechnology through the following research centers and programs:

  • Bionano Systems Laboratory: Conducts research on nanoscale materials, device structures and components based on silicon materials, circuits and microsystems including molecular and biological elements.
  • Master's Program in Nanotechnology: For students aiming at international careers in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology, both regarding the fundamentals of nanoscience and how to design and build components on the nanoscale.
  • Master's Program Materials Chemistry and Nanotechnology: Provides an engineering education within the materials field where emphasis is on synthesis, chemical characterization, physical and chemical properties and applications. Students can choose from courses that focus on different types of materials, materials chemistry and nanotechnology.
  • Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience- Conducts research on bio- and nanosystems, electronics and photonics. A cleanroom is also provided for micro- and nanofabrication with the latest equipment.
  • Nanofabrication Laboratory - A high-class cleanroom that facilitates nanotech research and fabrication of micro and nano technology. The laboratory offers cleanroom access, research collaboration and processing, prototypes and consultancy for academic and commercial interests.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology - Offers a Master’s program in Nanotechnology that provides students with a detailed study on size-dependent materials, device and system properties and how these properties can be used by controlled manipulation of the microstructure down to the atomic or molecular level. The program also deals with the application and fabrication of nanoscale devices.

Linköping University - Offers the Material Physics and Nanotechnology (MPN) Master's program whose key areas of interest include:

  • Surface and nanosciences
  • Electronic materials and devices
  • Computational physics
  • Organic/molecular electronics and sensors.

Lund University- Promotes the study of nanotechnology through the following programs and consortium.

  • Nanoscience Master’s Program:Is part of the Nanometer Structure Consortium and has its scientific base in a physics description of nanoscale phenomena and students can also choose to specialize in nanoelectronics, biophysics or materials chemistry.
  • Nanometer Structure Consortium: A center that promotes the development of nanotechnology and fields of science and their applications based on the properties and opportunities offered at the nanometer length scale. This center conducts research on the following nanotech areas:
    • Nano-physics
    • Nano-devices
    • Bio nanosciences
    • Materials science

Umea University - The Department of Physics conducts research on carbon nanostructures and nanomagnetism.

Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center - Promotes integration of cutting edge technologies and medical research. This center aims at promoting research activities that will help derive therapies for patients. The carry out projects at this center that focus on solving medical problems.

Recent Developments

A professor from Lund University recently developed a new process for semiconductor fabrication that uses gold nanoparticles instead of the conventional silicon substrate. This new process uses gas deposition and suspends gold nanoparticles in the gas flow. This causes nanoscopic semiconductor structures to grow on the gold nanoparticles followed by floating of the completed structures into an oven for curing.

Currently only standard conductive nanowires are grown but researchers hope to analyze this process in a more intense manner in order to develop unique nanowires that act as p-n diodes.

Recently, researchers from Lund University measured the Hall effect in nanowires. This significant breakthrough can be used to fine tune the electronic properties of nanowires and also help in developing a new range of nanowire-based devices.

In another recent discovery, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology developed a nanoplasmonic sensor platform that can be used to detect low-abundance biomolecules in small sample volumes. This newly developed nanoplasmonic sensor platform will help in transporting analyte to the sensor surface. By integrating nanosensors into nanochannels the analyte is transported to all the sensitive parts of the sensor thus improving time response and capture efficiency of this new nanoplasmonic sensor platform in comparison with traditional sensor systems.

These new developments demonstrate that Swedish researchers are making significant breakthroughs in the field of nanotechnology. They also demonstrate the diversity if the field.

Sweden also has numerous companies involved in nanotechnology. When one considers the population of Sweden and compares this to the nanotech activity, it becomes apparent that on a per capita basis they very active and no doubt a=making great strides towards becoming a knowledge-based economy.

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