Nanotechnology in England: Market Report

England forms part of the United Kingdom. The majority of the country is made of of the central and southern part of the island of Great Britain. England also includes over 100 small islands

England has a population of 53,013,000 as of 2011 and covers a total area of 130,395 km2. England has a mixed market economy that is considered to be one of the largest in the world. England’s economy covers the bulk of the United Kingdom’s economy. Globally, UK has the 18th highest GDP PPP (purchasing power parity) per capita.

England is a leading country in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors and also in technical industries that include aerospace, the software industry and the arms industry. Tourism is a significant revenue industry in England whose exports include cars, pharmaceuticals, petroleum and crude oil.

Nanotechnology Organizations

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

  • Cambridge Innovation Consulting- Is a consultancy that strives to excel in the economic development of innovation across multiple sectors and industries and in high-tech commercialization. This consultancy focuses on contributing for the development of a framework for a unified and global nanotechnology action plan.
  • London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) - Uses nanotechnology and nanoscience to solve issues relating to environment, energy, information processing and healthcare. LCN also has well established contacts with nanotechnology communities and uses experimental research techniques such as microfluidics and nanofluidics, nanolithography and nanomaterials synthesis.
  • Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) - NanoKTN simplifies the nanotechnology Innovation landscape by providing a comprehensive method for transferring quality information on markets, technologies, partnering opportunities and funding.
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)- Defra collaborates with government agencies and departments to analyze and control the risks relating to the usage of new technologies like nanotechnology and chemicals.  The organization also aims to maximize the chief societal and economic benefits offered by nanomaterials and chemicals.
  • UK EPSRC - As part of its research facilities EPSRC provides access to a multi-functional nanoscale analysis system and conducts a cross research council program called Nanoscience through Engineering to Application.

Nanotechnology Companies

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

Aystorm Scientific - Aystorm Scientific provides support to a variety of high technology companies across the globe in the areas of thin films, semiconductors, photovoltaics, coatings, deposition processes, and matters relating to protection & verification of intellectual property and technology. They also provide a surface analysis and advanced materials characterisation service specialising in metrology of thin films, semiconductors, photovoltaic materials and nano layers. A combination of their knowledge of the science of materials, an understating of the technologies together with many years of experience of advanced analytical techniques is a significant benefit. This provides an advantageous platform from which to support early stage development of new products, monitoring and failure analysis issues. Such support will enable customers to innovate faster, optimise performance more effectively and maximise their competitive advantage.

Agar Scientific: A leading international supplier of consumables, accessories and specialist equipment for all disciplines of microscopy. The company has manufacturing facilities for the production of calibration specimens, grids, apertures and filaments. Agar offers a complete Online catalogue of consumables and accessories for electron and light microscopy to meet the needs of all working in biological and material science related fields. Their range of products includes:

  • TEM grids
  • Apertures
  • Calibration specimens
  • SEM stubs
  • Specimen preparation equipment
  • Filaments
  • Tweezers
  • Slides and coverglasses
  • Vacuum coating
  • Evaporation materials
  • Fixatives and resins
  • EM films
  • Magnifiers
  • Specimen storage

AssuredNano - AssuredNano™ exists to overcome the obstacles to nanomaterial commercialization resulting from SHE concerns. AssuredNano offers, for the first time, a way for responsible manufacturers to address nanomaterial SHE concerns based upon the use of good current practice. In so doing it provides a demonstration to all stakeholders in nanomaterials and nanotechnology that SHE issues are being taken seriously and tackled responsibly and that the health and safety of people exposed to nanomaterials or nano-enabled products will be ensured. Most importantly, AssuredNano is designed by industry experienced SHE experts to deliver a commonsense and realistic approach to nanomaterial SHE.

ATDBio - ATDBio was established to provide high quality oligonucleotides to scientists around the world. ATDBio oligonucleotides are used successfully in academic and commercial research in the fields of genetics, genomics, molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology and nanotechnology. They supply a wide range of custom-made unmodified and chemically modified oligonucleotides for small and large scale applications. Each oligonucleotide is unique, and they insist on the highest standards to maintain the best possible quality for every oligonucleotide. They have very high standards of quality assurance.

Avid Nano - Avid Nano was established in 2009 with a mission to produce the most exciting and innovative new dynamic light scattering products anywhere in the world.  Since that time, the company’s patent pending BladeCell disposable sample cuvette design and easy-to-use i-Size software has become popular with both experienced and novice users of DLS who appreciate the ease and convenience afforded by its unique design features.

The W130i DLS system is uniquely versatile too, allowing anyone to interchange disposable BladeCells and traditional quartz glass batch and flow through cuvettes without the need for special adapters or modifications.

All products from Avid Nano achieve the highest levels of performance, incorporating unique know-how and experience coupled with the technology, convenience and reliability you won’t find anywhere else

Ceimig Limited - A small Scottish based precious metal chemical company who supply a wide range of products to a variety of industries, including the pharmaceutical, semiconductor and the sensor and fuel cell industries. They have over 5 years of experience of synthesizing Osmium tetroxide (OsO4) and are currently supplying both crystal and solution to a range of customers worldwide. Ceimig Limited currently supplies platinum black powder to the sensor and fuel cell industries. Their in house research interests are focused on developing new technologies based on existing intellectual property (IP) as well as exploring new opportunities for a variety of different industries.

Cella Energy - Cella Energy Limited is a spin-out from the UK Government’s Science and Technology Facility Council (STFC) based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, UK. It was founded by Stephen Voller and Professor Stephen Bennington in January 2011 with £0.3m funding from the specialist UK chemical firm Thomas Swan & Co Ltd. Work began on the Cella technology in 2007 led by Professor Stephen Bennington and Dr Arthur Lovell at the 1,200 person STFC ISIS facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and at the London Centre for Nanotechnology at University College London (UCL).  The Cella technology is based around the encapsulation and nano-structuring of chemical hydrides in plastic. Currently the company is in the proof-of-concept stage where in collaboration with strategic partners, it is performing the engineering necessary to demonstrate the materials in real devices.

Lucideon - Lucideon is an international, independent materials technology company that applies its materials expertise in ceramics, metals and polymers to a range of sectors including healthcare, construction, ceramics, aerospace, nuclear and power generation.

From our state-of-the-art facilities in the UK, US and the Far East, we provide customised solutions to help you measurably improve performance, profitability and sustainability – of your materials, products and of your business.

Cressington - The Cressington company was originally formed in 1973 to offer a product design service in the field of high vacuum coating. Cressington currently offers a wide selection of desktop coaters. Cressington is committed to a continuous research and product development program to improve the performance of the coating range.

Malvern - Malvern Instruments provides the materials and biophysical characterization technology and expertise that enable scientists and engineers to understand and control the properties of dispersed systems. These systems range from proteins and polymers in solution, particle and nanoparticle suspensions and emulsions, through to sprays and aerosols, industrial bulk powders and high concentration slurries. Used at all stages of research, development and manufacturing, Malvern’s materials characterization instruments provide critical information that helps accelerate research and product development, enhance and maintain product quality and optimize process efficiency.

Our products reflect Malvern’s drive to exploit the latest technological innovations and our commitment to maximizing the potential of established techniques. They are used by both industry and academia, in sectors ranging from pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals to bulk chemicals, cement, plastics and polymers, energy and the environment.

Malvern systems are used to measure particle size, particle shape, zeta potential, protein charge, molecular weight, mass, size and conformation, rheological properties and for chemical identification, advancing the understanding of dispersed systems across many different industries and applications.

Nanotechnology Education and Research

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

Nanoscale Science & Nanotechnology Research Group - A leading research group conducting research in nanotechnology and nanoscale science. This research group focuses on the study of silicon nanocrystals, nanodiamonds, silver nanoparticles, gold nitride, biominerialzation, ferromagnetism, nanotoxicology, optics, photon reactions on ice, carbon capture and biomimetics.

Brunel University - The Experimental Techniques Centre plans to develop an MSc course on “Nanomaterials Processing” in collaboration with the Wolfson Centre for Materials Processing.

University of Cambridge - Their Nanoscience research center-provides open access to researchers from different university departments to the university’s nanofabrication and characterization facilities that have low noise laboratories and clean rooms.

Lancaster University - The North West Nanoscience Doctoral Training Centre (NOWNano) offers an interdisciplinary PhD programme that commences with a training programme dealing with different nanoscience disciplines. A research project will then start and continue for a period of 3.5 years. This project will be supervised by leading researchers specialising specially in nanoscience.

Newcastle University - nanoLAB Research Center offers a Nanoscale Science and Technology research degree (MPhil/PhD) that covers the following topics:

  • Micro and nanoscale design
  • Fabrication
  • Nanoscale materials and electronics
  • Manufacturing and manipulation
  • applications of nano and microelectronics in medical science
  • Chemistry of nano-scale systems
  • Microelectromechanical (MEMS)/nanoelectromechanical (NEMS) systems and devices.

University of Bath University - Offers PhD projects that include topics such as electronic nanodevices from biological liquid crystals, graphene nanomechanics and applications, “nanosurgery” of nail and hair cells using an atomic force microscope, nano-machines and electronic properties of silicon nanodevices.

University of Birmingham - Offers research projects on topics such as novel nano-sized electrocatalysts for fuel cells applications, toxicity of nanoparticles - aggregation of nanoparticles in lung surfactant and effects of magnetic fields on nanoparticles in fluids.

University of Bradford - The Centre for Polymer Micro and Nano Technology allows access to expertise and equipment required by companies in order to invent an efficient nanoscale surface feature molding or micromolding process.

University of Bristol - Offers a MSc course that deals with Nanoscience & Functional Nanomaterials.

University of Huddersfield - The Centre for Precision Technologies (CPT) offers research in precision engineering and has three separate research groups that include the surface metrology research group, the advanced machining technology group, and the engineering control and machine performance group.

University of Manchester - National Graphene Institute (NGI) - The £61m National Graphene Institute (NGI) is the national centre for graphene research in the UK, drawing in specialists from across the globe. It houses state-of-the-art cleanrooms, plus laser, optical, metrology and chemical labs and equipment - the ideal environment for world-class graphene research.

Imperial College London - The nanoscience and nanotechnology department provides nanotechnology courses and research areas such as:

  • MRes Nanomaterials
  • MSc Advanced Materials
  • MSc Bioengineering (Biomaterials stream)
  • Bio-nanotechnology
  • Carbon nanostructures (including graphene)
  • Nanomaterials synthesis (nanoparticles)
  • Nano-spintronics and magnetism

University of Oxford - Provides research on the topic “Under the nanoscope”, short courses on nanotechnology and courses on nanomedicine and nanotechnology. The university also has a Nanotechnology Summer School whose theme for 2012 is 'An Introduction to Bionanotechnology'. Presentations on this topic will be conducted by the university’s efficient practitioners and researchers.

Nottingham Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre: Offers a co-ordinated nanotechnology resource for research and teaching of nanotechnology and postgraduate Masters programme in nanoscience. The center’s significant Nanoscience and Nanotechnology areas are:

  • Nanoscale Assembly
  • Nanopharmaceuticals
  • Single Molecule Nanoscience
  • Carbon Nanostructures
  • Bionanotechnology
  • Nanoparticulates

University of York - The York JEOL Nanocentre provides high-quality research training and teaching for upcoming scientists to PhD students. The center offers part and full-time MSc courses and also short courses. Research is carried in a number of fields and some of them are given below:

  • Nanolithography
  • Nanoparticles
  • Oxide based nanostructures
  • Semiconductor nanostructures
  • Biological ligands on nanomaterials for medical applications

UCL (University College London) - Offers the following courses:

  • MSc in nanotechnology and regenerative medicine
  • Postgraduate diploma in nanotechnology
  • MSc in nanotechnology
  • PhDs in nanotechnology research

London School of Economics (LSE) - The Nanotechnology Policy and Regulation programme offers research on regulatory and policy developments in nanotechnologies and currently researches on the approaches to regulate the health and environmental risks of using nanotechnology.

University of Liverpool - Offers MChem that is a combination of chemistry and nanotechnology. This four year course focuses on practical and theoretical chemistry in the first two years, application of chemistry and chemical processes in the third year and specialization in chemical nanotechnology in the fourth year. The university also offers research programs on nanotechnology.

University of Warwick - Offers research on advanced materials such as nanotechnology that collaborated with the Departments of Chemistry and Physics. The research covers a wide range of applications in nanotechnology, micro-systems technology and precision measurements.  The Department of Chemistry provides research on the development of new materials and techniques for nanoscale imaging, characterization of surfaces and device fabrication.
Loughborough University - The nanotechnology research group in the Department of Materials concentrates on the study of nanomaterials- synthesis, characterization and applications. Some of the university’s significant nanotechnology related projects include:

  • Nanostructured coatings
  • Clay/Polymer nanocomposites prepared using dual surfactants
  • Nanostructured advanced ceramic components
  • Polymer nanocomposites

University of Southampton - Offers the following nanotechnology related courses:

  • MSc Nanoelectronics and Nanotechnology
  • MEng in Electronic Engineering with Nanotechnology
  • MPhys Physics with Nanotechnology

The Nano Research Group focuses on engineering and fabrication from the microscale to the nanometre scale to develop a range of unique materials, integrated systems and devices. This group also operates the Southampton Nanofabrication Centre for microfabrication and high-spec nanofabrication.

Recent Developments

With nanotechnology gaining significance in the present scenario, recent reports from the UK highlight the opinions of experts who feel that a balance should be maintained between the benefits and risks of nano products in order to regulate the usage of nanotechnology and make it eco friendly.

The efforts to control nanotechnology usage in the UK have been limited and the country’s previous government formulated a UK Nanotechnologies Strategy in order to highlight that the existing laws were good enough to monitor the usage of nanotechnology. However, the Cardiff-based BRASS Centre expressed the need for new regulations as the existing laws were not wholly effective.

In June 2013, NanoKTN's NanoMed mission helped to generate sales for Izon Science's qNano measurement tool to ETH Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Zurich.

Meanwhile UK researchers in conjunction with Australian researchers have been able to improve the drug targetting of tumours using nano-biosensors and a new imaging technqiue.

Graphene is also a very popular nanomaterial in England, following is discovery by researchers at the University of Manchester in 2004 and their subsequent Nobel Prize in 2010. The government backed £61m National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester opened ealrier this year and is intended to turn research into products. The university itself has dedicated £32m to fund attempts to find commercial applications for graphene and is also participating in the EU’s €1bn Graphene Flagship Initiative. One company that the University of Manchester has funded is 2-DTech that is currently providing graphene solutions for the graphene revolution.

While some in England are debating the benefits and risks of nanotechnology, there are others that have identified the potential for this technology and are forging ahead with their research. There also seems to a great deal of collaboration amongst English researchers which is no doubt speeding their development processes. The University of Manchester also appears to be acting as a global hub for graphene reasearch and develeopment based on ground breaking work by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov. This will attract more research funding from the private sector and abroad as people clamour to get aboard the graphene train with those that have proven expertise in the area.

Favourable government funding and a strong research sector make England a hotspot for nanotechnology developments. Consequentlly, England is worth watching for both nanotech developments and commercialisation.

Sources and Further Reading


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