Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Taiwan: Market Report

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Taiwan, located in Eastern Asia, covers a total area of 35,980 km2 and had a population of 23.57m in 2017.

Taiwan has a capitalist and export-driven economy with the industrial sector playing a major role. The key industries in Taiwan include pharmaceuticals, electronics, machinery, communications and information technology products, chemicals, armaments, petroleum refining, food processing, consumer products, iron and steel, textiles, cement and, vehicles.

Towards the latter half of the 20th century, Taiwan experienced steady and rapid growth in its economy and industrial sector. The chief exports in Taiwan include measuring, photographic, optical and medical instruments, electronics, chemicals, machinery, plastics, flat panels, textiles and metals. The key imports include precision instruments, metals, crude petroleum, organic chemicals, machinery and electronics. Taiwan’s GDP in 2019 was $618 billion.

Nanotechnology Organizations

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

  • TANIDA - A non-profit organization that aims to facilitate the integration of R&D efforts at research institutions, universities and industries to accelerate the commercialization of nanotechnology and meet the industrial requirements of developing high value-added products and technology.
  • Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) - An applied research organization that spans multiple industrial technology fields. The materials, chemical and nanotechnology sector is one of the current key research areas of this organization. Research in this key area involves collaboration with competitive industries in Taiwan to develop key materials and components in the field of electronics, optoelectronics and, panel displays. ITRI aims to develop high-end materials and components through the integration of nanotechnology and materials/chemical technologies.
  • Taiwan Nanotechnology EHS Database - This company focuses on the environmental applications of nanomaterials and conducts nanotechnology research on the following topics:
    • Nanotechnology Applications
    • Nanotechnology Implications in Environments
    • Nanomaterial Occupational Health and Safety
    • Nanomaterial Toxicity
    • Risk Assessment and Medical Surveillance

Nanotechnology Companies

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

  • ARDIC Instruments - founded as a platform for technology commercialization. They partner with leading research institutions to commercialize their cutting edge research which allows them to reach the market by using ARDIC's expertise in market-driven product development.
    Through a deep understanding of the technology and user relationship, ARDIC takes a holistic perspective in developing instruments that are not only technologically advanced but also perfectly suited to the needs of the end users.
  • Advanced Nanopower - this Company was established in 2004 and is devoted to the production of Multi-wall Carbon Nanotubes (MWNT) and the development of Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) related products. ANP has successfully developed many types of high purity CNTs. Depending on the needs of the product, they offer different types of CNTs to their customers in many forms such as powders, solutions, slurries and pastes.  
  • Polytron Technologies - this company is committed to offering the best products at competitive prices to all customers in the international community. One of these products is Polynano, a CNT field emission device that makes a perfect display.
  • SINO Nanotechnology Corporation - they have been dealing with research and sales of inorganic nano-coating systems and other chemical products for almost 20 years.
  • Teco Nanotech - focuses on the research, development and manufacturing of CNT field emission displays, however, the company is also developing CNT and other nanocomposite applications.
  • Xin Nano - This is a joint venture of Xintek, Inc. in the USA and TECO Nanotech Co. Ltd. It is the world leader in producing high quality CNTs for field emission (including field emission displays, backlight units and X-ray sources) and thermal and electrical conducting applications. Their CNT based field emission cathodes are cold cathodes that can be turned on and off instantly and have multi-pixel capabilities. They also offer many new device design ideas that enable the development of the next generation of high speed, compact and energy efficient vacuum electronic devices; such as medical and security x-ray CT scanners.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Some of the leading academic institutions in Taiwan offering courses and research programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and are listed below:

  • University system of Taiwan - promotes research in the field of nanotechnology through the below mentioned research center:
    • Center for Nano Science and Technology - this organization trains researchers and practitioners in the field of nanotechnology and nanoscience and provides high quality research that will enable Taiwan to become a leading country in these fields. The center also focuses on the commercialization of nanotechnology in Taiwan.
  • Nano Optoelectronics Laboratory - located at The National Taiwan University, the laboratory’s key nanotechnology-based research areas include:
    • Carbon Nanotube
    • Nanoparticles
    • Nanoimprint & Nanofabrication
    • Organic Solar Cells
    • Silicon Solar Cells & Antireflection Coating
  • Taiwan International Graduate Program on Nano Science and Technology - This a collaboration between Academia Sinica, the National Taiwan University and National Tsing Hua University. The organization offers training and research opportunities to Ph.D. students interested in exploring nanotechnology areas such as new nanomaterials and structures, characterization of nanostructures and nanomaterials, nanodevice engineering, theoretical modeling and, nano-biotechnology.

Recent Developments

Researchers at Taiwan's National Defense University recently developed tubes and light bulbs by using nano-carbon materials. In comparison with existing bulbs, these are more environmentally friendly and significantly more energy efficient. The researchers highlighted the fact that nano-carbon materials can be used to manufacture mercury-free light sources.

Taiwan has a memorandum of understanding with a European research consortium to promote and improve the interaction on transnational nanotechnology research in engineering and materials science.    

Along with these nanotech-based discoveries and initiatives to promote the significance of nanotechnology, experts are hoping to see an increase in the output value of products made in Taiwan using nanotechnology. In addition, Foxconn, the manufacturer largely responsible for many Apple products, will manufacture CNT products for touch applications, sensors, cables and LED lighting.

Researchers from the National Taiwan University have coated platinum onto tellurium nanowires which have been used to make modified carbon fiber microelectrodes using a galvanic displacement reaction. This results in highly electroactive electrodes for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC).

Despite an uncertain global economic climate in recent years, Taiwan's economy has registered an annual growth rate equal to 4% over the last 5 years. A formal economic relationship with China has also helped to see Taiwan come through the financial crisis more quickly. Whilst back in 2012, data indicated that manufacturers accounted for 95.9% of R&D expenditure, this will be affected by the loss of contracts to manufacture chips for Apple.

With cheaper labor available in China, Taiwan will need to transition to a higher technology, more service oriented economy. If they make this transition and continue to increase expenditure on R&D and increase the output of products using nanotechnology, there is little doubt that the nanotechnology sector will benefit greatly and become a global force.

Sources and Further Reading

This article was updated on the 3rd September, 2019.

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