Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Sweden: Market Report

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Sweden is situated in Northern Europe, covering a total area of 450,295 km2. As of 2012 estimates, it had a population of 9,103,788. It is also one of the world’s most prosperous and technologically advanced nations.

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

The major economically noteworthy industrial sectors in Sweden include telecommunications, automotive, and pharmaceuticals. In 2011, the GDP of the country was $386.6 billion.

Nanotechnology Organizations

A short introduction to the leading nanotechnology-related organizations in Sweden is provided below:

KTH-USTC Joint Center for Bio-and Nano-Materials

This center is the result of a collaboration between Sweden’s Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) and the University of Science and Technology of China. This center focuses on biomaterials and nanomaterials, with priority on advancing multi-scale computational methods for enzyme catalysis, photonics, drug design, and electronics.

NanoDiara

It is a consortium that encourages the advancement of nanotechnology-based diagnostic tools used for early detection of diseases, and also on the advancement of new urine and blood nanotechnology-based diagnostic biomarker assays.

Nanotechnology Companies

Sweden’s key nanotechnology-related companies are listed below together with a short introduction to each of them:

Camurus

Camurus offers advanced nanoscale drug-delivery systems for developing high-value therapeutics. Its cutting-edge delivery solutions range from long-acting depots to lipid nanocarriers engineered for enhanced oral, intravenous, and transdermal delivery. These are used in partner projects with biotech and pharma companies across the world, for allowing and enhancing the delivery of a broad range of challenging drug compounds including proteins, peptides, and insoluble small molecules.

Camurus also creates drug product candidates, which manipulate the varied benefits of its proprietary FluidCrystal® and FluidCrystal® nanoparticle technologies. Camurus’ in-house product series addresses significant healthcare requirements in areas of metabolic disease, oncology, cancer, supportive care, growth-hormone disorders, and drug addiction. It includes advanced and effective medicines that provide additional patient benefits, including better safety and convenience of handling and administration.

Graphensic AB

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

Nanologica

A privately owned company, with principles from fields of nanotechnology, phototonics, economics, and finance, its mission is to stabilize, capture, and conserve activities. The company tailors material properties to handle matters relating to stability, solubility, and controlled release prevalent in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical sector, amongst others. By modifying the properties of the materials like pore size and structure, particle size and morphology, and chemical functionalization of the surface, Nanologica can solve its customers’ snags to benefit consumers worldwide.

Micronic Mydata

The company develops, produces, and markets laser mask writers, one of the world’s most progressive production systems used for photomask production. It has over 30 years of experience in photomask printing and microlithography. The display mask writers are industry standard.

Oasmia Pharmaceutical AB

It develops a new generation of drugs within veterinary and human oncology. The product development aims to produce novel formulations based on proven cytostatics which, in comparison with existing alternatives, show a reduced side-effect profile, enhanced properties, and an expanded therapeutic area. The product development is based on in-house research within nanotechnology and company patents.

Porenix

The company offers groundbreaking nanotechnology for high-performance purification, filtration, and extrusion. Its product series include membrane filters, TEM windows, and filter holders.

Porenix membranes provide four times higher permeability when compared to the polymeric ion-track-etched membranes. The membranes are based on their low-cost and efficient nanofabrication process allowing the production of billions of nanopores in thin silicon nitride membranes.

Qunano

Established in Sweden in 2005, QuNano aims to commercialize innovative, proprietary semiconductor and non-semiconductor nanowire technology in different fields like solid-state electronics, highly efficient photovoltaics, solid-state illumination, and the life sciences.

The company enjoys a uniquely close partnership with researchers at Lund University’s Nanometer Structure Consortium (nmC) and works to develop an international intellectual property portfolio. It also looks to market the leading-edge quantum nanoscale inventions of nmC participants and of QuNano researchers.

Recently, QuNano invented a process for synthesizing nanowires in the aerosol phase, called “aerotaxy.” In the last few months, QuNano is focusing on a series of non-semiconductor, oxide-based nanowires that are employed as a sacrificial template during processing to create beneficial hollow nanostructures for biomedical applications.

Q-Sense

It develops and sells research instruments based on the patented Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) technology. The company’s products are ideal for exploring surface science and molecular interactions, as QCM-D measurements deliver data regarding mass and structural variations at the nanoscale level.

Since 1999, when the first commercial QCM-D instrument was developed, Q-Sense has become the top supplier of acoustic resonator-based instruments. Its instruments are found in more than 25 countries globally, and there are presently more than 1000 publications citing the use of the QCM-D technology.

Silex Microsystems

The world’s largest pure-play MEMS foundry is spearheading the sensory system revolution, collaborating with the world’s most advanced companies to market MEMS technologies that can transform the world.

The lifecycle for MEMS development is complex and necessitates deep and specialized expertise and knowledge, as a product goes from early prototypes to early production to high-volume manufacturing. Silex is committed to getting customers quickly, economically, and reliably through this product development lifecycle with its proficiency in quick commercialization of MEMS products, and its well-established, stable, high-volume MEMS manufacturing capabilities.

Smoltek

It was set up in 2006 to develop and make a unique substrate-based conductive nanoscale technology, mainly for the semiconductor sector, on a commercial basis. The company’s offerings are based on its IP platform on how to regulate the growth of carbon nanostructures. It creates processes that match the demands of the semiconductor industry.

Headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, Smoltek is utilizing the advanced nanoscience research facilities at the Chalmers University of Technology.

Sol Voltaics AB (Sol)

It is a venture-backed, development-stage nanotechnology company. It is focused on the development and marketing of a technique for creating portable, semiconductor nanowire-based high-efficiency solar cells using an economical, very high volume production technique based on guided self-assembly of nanowires in the gas phase.

The company holds major international intellectual property rights in the fields of nanostructure material growth, devices, and fabrication as applied within the field of solar spectrum photovoltaics. Furthermore, the company is the only commercial member in a key photovoltaic research project with a number of renowned global partners under the auspices of the European Union’s Framework 7 nanotechnology program.

Spago Imaging

SPAGO Imaging was set up in 2007 and is currently situated in Lund, Sweden. SPAGO Imaging is a biotechnology company with professional capabilities in contrast agent and nanoscale life science study.

The company’s key focus is the development of a state-of-the-art and proprietary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent for earlier and more focused visualization of soft tissue tumors than is presently available.

SPAGO Imaging has decades of experience from the contrast and pharma industries, including early clinical, discovery research, and business development.

Obducat

It is the world-leading supplier of lithography solutions for engineering and replication of advanced micro- and nanoscale structures. Obducat is a Sweden-based supplier of lithography solutions for manufacture and replication of advanced micro-and nanostructures for industrial mass production, and for research and development.

Obducat technologies allows the development and economical manufacturing of next-generation consumer products like hard disks for mobile phones, cameras, flat panel displays for TVs, etc.

Its goal is to offer its customers with feasible and economical lithography solutions that will provide a competitive edge to them, allowing them to deliver innovative applications and attain better profitability and success.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Sweden has some of the top academic institutes offering courses and research programs in nanotechnology and nanoscience, which are mentioned below.

Chalmers University of Technology

It promotes the importance and study of nanotechnology through the following research centers and programs:

  • Bionano Systems Laboratory—It performs research on device structures, nanoscale materials, and components based on silicon circuits, materials, and microsystems including biological and molecular elements.
  • Master’s Program in Nanotechnology—This program is meant for students who are keen on global careers in the field of nanotechnology and nanoscience. Both fields relate to the fundamentals of nanoscience, and how to design and develop components on the nanoscale.
  • Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience—It performs research on bio-and nanosystems, photonics, and electronics. A cleanroom is also offered for micro-and nanofabrication with modern equipment.
  • Nanofabrication Laboratory—A high-class cleanroom that enables nanotech research and fabrication of micro-and nanotechnology. The lab offers research collaboration and processing, cleanroom access, prototypes, and consultancy for commercial and academic interests.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

It offers a Master’s program in Nanotechnology that gives students a comprehensive study on size-dependent materials, device, and system properties and how these properties can be employed through controlled manipulation of the microstructure down to the molecular or atomic level. In addition, the program handles the fabrication and application of nanoscale devices.

Linköping University

It provides the Material Physics and Nanotechnology (MPN) Master’s program whose core areas of interest comprise:

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

Lund University

It promotes the study of nanotechnology via the following programs and consortium.

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

Umea University

The Department of Physics performs research on nanomagnetism and carbon nanostructures.

Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center

It promotes the incorporation of advanced technologies and medical research. The center aims at boosting research activities that will help develop therapies for patients. The projects performed at this center focus on solving medical issues.

Recent Developments

A Lund University professor has formulated a new process for semiconductor fabrication that utilizes gold nanoparticles rather than the traditional silicon substrate. This new process employs gas deposition and suspends gold nanoparticles in the gas flow, causing nanoscopic semiconductor structures to grow on the gold nanoparticles. Following this, the finished structures float into an oven for curing.

At present, only regular conductive nanowires are grown but scientists hope to examine this process in a deeper manner to develop unique nanowires that serve as p-n diodes.

Recently, Lund University scientists measured the Hall Effect in nanowires. This major breakthrough can be used to tweak the electronic properties of nanowires, and also help in producing a new range of nanowire-based devices.

In another discovery, scientists from the Chalmers University of Technology created a nanoplasmonic sensor platform that can be used to sense low-abundance biomolecules in small sample volumes. This newly created nanoplasmonic sensor platform will help in conveying analyte to the sensor surface.

By combining nanosensors into nanochannels, the analyte is transported to all the sensor’s sensitive parts, thereby enhancing time response, and capture efficiency of this new nanoplasmonic sensor platform in contrast to conventional sensor systems.

These latest developments reveal that Swedish scientists are making important breakthroughs in the field of nanotechnology. They also demonstrate the diversity in the field.

Sweden also has many companies working on nanotechnology. When one looks at the Swedish population and compares this to the nanotech activity, it becomes obvious that on a per capita basis, it is highly active and undoubtedly making significant advances towards becoming a knowledge-based economy.

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