Nanotechnology in California, USA: Market Report

Topics Covered

Have we missed you? Are you a company, organisation or research group operating in this region and feel you warrant inclusion on this page? Also please feel free to help us keep this page up to date with the latest news or research from your organisation or suggest general edits. Shoot through an email and one of our editorial team will get back to you.

Nanotechnology Organisations
Nanotechnology Companies
Nanotechnology Education
Recent Developments


California is located in the west coast of the United States of America. It has a population of 37,691,912 as of 2011. The state covers a total area of 423,970 km2 and is the third largest state in the USA.

The economic growth of this state is the fastest in the USA. In 2010, the gross state product was $1.9 trillion, the highest in the USA. California has a large enough economy to rank among the biggest countries in the world, as well as being the biggest state economy in the USA. In 2011, California's economy was the eighth largest economy in the world.

California's economy relies heavily on trade and financial service industries. High technology industries such as computing, electronic devices and software are a key strength in the region. California has a highly active environmental movement, which has given rise to demand for research and manufacturing in renewable energy technology and greener products.

The strong economy and healthy research communities in California has led to a large number of technology and scientific companies making their home in the region. Opportunities for national and international trade and collaborations with the large number of nanoscience research facilities make California an important global player in nanotechnology, as well as in the USA.

Nanotechnology Organisations

California has many world-leading organisations and networks committed to promoting nanoscience as well as exploring the challenges and future of nanotechnology. A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organisations in California is given below:

  • National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) -is an integrated partnership of 14 user facilities aiming to provide opportunities for nanoscience and nanotechnology research. They also conduct workshops, seminars and conferences covering school-aged children through to adult professionals so as to expose them to advanced and exciting research in nanotechnology. It is supported by National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • Northern California Nanotechnology Initiative (NCnano) - is an economic development initiative aimed at developing nanotechnology and nano-bio-IT convergence technology economy of Northern California, as this region is known for its hi-tech industries, entrepreneurial spirit, cutting edge technologies, and venture capital.  
  • International Association of Nanotechnology (IANT) - is a non-profit organization with the goals of fostering scientific research and business development in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology so as to benefit society. The IANT organizes regional meetings and an international congress for providing focus to the scientific research, product development, intellectual property and technology transfer, research collaboration, venture capital investment, safety, regulation, ethics, environmental and societal aspects of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology Companies

Nanotechnology is a versatile field with numerous applications covering myriad of industries. The major nanotechnology companies in California that cater to these diverse fields are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:

Keysight Technologies - Keysight is a global electronic measurement technology and market leader helping to transform its customers' measurement experience through innovation in wireless, modular, and software solutions. Keysight provides electronic measurement instruments and systems and related software, software design tools and services used in the design, development, manufacture, installation, deployment and operation of electronic equipment.

American Elements - American Elements is the world leader in the industrial application of materials science. American Elements supply advanced engineering materials, including nanomaterials, to thousands of global manufacturers in industry groups including energy, electronics, aerospace, defense, automotive, optics/photovoltaics, green technologies and pharma/cosmetics.

Anasys Instruments - Anasys Instruments provides innovative AFM and related accessories which offer chemical, mechanical, and thermal analysis at the sub-100nm scale. The company’s technology and products are being used to address metrology and analysis challenges in the polymers, pharmaceuticals, data-storage, and advanced-materials markets.

Applied Nanostructures - Applied NanoStructures, Inc. develops, manufactures, and supplies various nanostructures including both conventional and specialized SPM probes for most applications. They leverage extensive experience in nanofabrication technology and research in AFM probes to supply the highest quality probes utilizing the latest technology in the market.

Asylum Research - Asylum Research are a technology leader in atomic force and scanning probe microscopy (AFM/SPM) for both materials and bioscience applications. Their instruments are used for a variety of nanoscience applications in material science, physics, polymers, chemistry, biomaterials, and bioscience, including single molecule mechanical experiments on DNA, protein unfolding and polymer elasticity, as well as force measurements for biomaterials, chemical sensing, polymers, colloidal forces, adhesion, and more.

BaySpec, Inc. - BaySpec designs, manufactures and markets advanced spectral instruments, from UV-VIS spectrometers to handheld and portable NIR and Raman analyzers, for the biomedical, pharmaceuticals, chemical, food, semiconductor, homeland security, and the optical telecommunications industries.

Bruker Nano Surfaces - Bruker manufactures world class atomic force microscopes and other nano technologies that incorporate the very latest advances in AFM techniques for a wide array of application areas, from biology to semiconductors, from data storage devices to polymers, and from integrated optics to measurement of forces between particles and surfaces.

Cambrios - the leader in nanotechnology-based solutions to enable the development of electronic devices with transparent conductors.  Our proprietary nanostructured materials can be deposited using existing production equipment to achieve enhanced performance of display devices and components at lower manufacturing cost.  ClearOhm™, our first product, is a directly patternable, wet-processable transparent conductive film that is poised to replace the industry standard sputtered indium tin oxide (ITO).

Chemat Technology - Founded in 1990, Chemat Technology, Inc. has established itself as a world leader in the development of advanced materials via sol-gel technologies. Headquartered in Northridge, California, in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, Chemat moved in 1999 to a 34,100-foot office/industrial building. It’s R&D labs are fully equipped with state-of-the-art analytical and processing equipment. Chemat owns facilities for chemical precursor synthesis, design and manufacturing of equipment, and advanced materials processing and characterization.

Fluidigm - Fluidigm develops, manufactures, and distributes systems composed of integrated fluidic chips (IFCs) enabling new efficiencies in science and industry. IFCs are created using a variation on nanoscale photo lithography to create chips with microscopic channels, pumps, valves, and other components.

HP Labs - Hewlett-Packard's research facility at Palo Alto pursues advances in such fields as utility computing, business-process innovation, digital imaging, customized printing, streaming media and experimental economics. At the same time, HP Labs scientists are exploring more radical technologies, including nanotechnology and computational bioscience.

IBM Research: Amalden - The IBM facility at Amalden, California boasts a rich history of breakthroughs that include the distributed relational database; the ability to position individual atoms; the first data mining algorithms; the IBM Microdrive – the world's smallest disk drive; racetrack memory; and innovations in data storage technology. Today, the researchers there are focused on new breakthroughs in areas as diverse as nanomedicine, services science and storage at the atomic scale.

Intel - Intel has approximately 12,600 employees in California at two major sites in Santa Clara and Folsom. Smaller research and development sites are located in Irvine and Berkeley. Intel Labs focuses on several research areas, many of which have strong links to nanotechnology. These areas include efficient computing, transportation, sustainability, and silicon photonics.

nanoComposix - nanoComposix specializes in the fabrication, characterization, and integration of nanomaterials into products and systems. Their mission is to enable our customers to maximize the potential benefits of nanotechnology through the use of precisely engineered, highly characterized nanomaterials.

Nanōmix, Inc. - UC Berkeley professors and award-winning physicists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Marvin L. Cohen and Alex Zettl founded Nanōmix in 2000 as a Berkeley Lab spinout to commercialize their proprietary nanotechnology for detecting a wide variety of biological molecules and gases for disease management, industrial process control, and the detection of pollutants in air and water.  Nanōmix has developed Sensation™, a carbon nanotube based electronic biosensor for use in decentralized Point of Care (POC) testing environments, including non-laboratory settings.

Nanosolar, Inc. - Nanosolar is a leading manufacturer of cost-efficient thin film solar cells and panels. We utilize an ‘industrial’ printing process to coat CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenium) and nanoparticle inks on low-cost aluminum foil in order to enable the industry’s lowest-cost solar cells and solar panels. With headquarters and solar cell manufacturing based in San Jose, California, and an automated panel assembly facility outside Berlin, Germany, Nanosolar is building an effective global distribution network to deliver cost-efficient solar power.

Nanosys Inc - Nanosys is an advanced materials architect. They design and build new materials at the molecular level to improve LCD color performance and battery storage capacity. Their solutions enable stand-out electronic products using known, viable manufacturing processes.

NeoPhotonics - NeoPhotonics Corporation is a leading developer and vertically integrated manufacturer of advanced integrated optical modules and subsystems designed to improve the performance and lower the costs associated with backbone and access optical networks. They are at the forefront of the long sought-after integration of active semiconductor, passive PLC and MEMS multi-dimensional switching functions into a single product. This integration is enabled by state-of-the-art integration, nanomaterials and nanoscale design and fabrication technologies.

Park Systems - Park Systems developed the world’s first commercial AFM in 1989, opening up a new world of research and development. Park Systems provides original and innovative AFM solutions for the most accurate nanoscale measurement.

Seagate Technology - Founded in 1979, Seagate is the leading provider of hard drives and storage solutions. Seagate offers the industry’s broadest portfolio of hard disk drives, solid-state drives and solid-state hybrid drives. In addition, the company offers an extensive line of retail storage products for consumers and small businesses, along with data-recovery services for any brand of hard drive and digital media type.

Tekon® - Tekon is the leader in green ecologically friendly surface cleaners, protective coatings and polishes.  They specialize in cleaners and protective sealing products for glass, metal, wood and other man-made surfaces. As the industry leader, Tekon® has extensively researched, developed and field tested its products over the last seven years with its Tek Home® Division.

XEI Scientific - XEI manufactures and sells the Evactron® De-Contaminator, which removes hydrocarbon contamination from SEMs, FIBs and other vacuum systems. It has been described as the only accessory you can buy for the SEM that will improve the performance of the instrument.

Xerox PARC - Since its inception, the Palo Alto Research Center, a Xerox company, has pioneered many technology platforms – from the Ethernet and laser printing to the GUI and ubiquitous computing – and has enabled the creation of many industries. Incorporated as an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox in 2002, PARC today continues the physical, computer, and social sciences research that enables breakthroughs for their clients' businesses.

Xradia - Xradia develops technology to help advance innovation in science and industry by providing unique insight through superior X-ray imaging solutions. Xradia products utilize advanced X-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging methodology and optics to nondestructively produce 3D images of objects with exceptional spatial resolution and contrast.

Zeta Instruments - Zeta Instruments manufactures high-performance imaging systems that can analyze high-roughness, low-reflectance surfaces for solar cell, LED, and other micron-scale manufacturing test applications.

Nanotechnology Education

California is home to a number of world-leading universities that offer research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Given below is a list of universities and academic institutions in California and the academic courses or research opportunities offered by them in various aspects of nanotechnology:

California Institute of Nanotechnology - promotes research and development and provides professional education and training in nanotechnology to meet the needs of the emerging industry for the benefit of the society.

University of California - The University of California, founded in 1868, operates across 10 campuses all around the state. It is well regarded in many subject areas, including scientific disciplines like chemistry, physics and engineering.

  • UC Berkeley
    • The Berkeley Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Institute (BNNI) is the umbrella organization for expanding and coordinating Berkeley research and educational activities in nanoscale science and engineering.
    • The Biomolecular Nanotechnology Center (BNC) is an 11,500 sq ft class 1,000/10,000 cleanroom facility located in Stanley Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. The BNC is a unique fabrication and experimentation facility specializing in BioMEMS (Biomedical Micro-electromechanical systems) and Microfluidic devices.
    • The Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems (COINS) is a multidisciplinary nanoscale science and engineering center (NSEC) funded by the National Science Foundation with its headquarters at the  University of California at Berkeley and satellite campuses at Stanford, Caltech, and University of California at Merced.The goal of COINS is to develop and integrate cutting-edge nanotechnologies into a versatile platform with various ultra-sensitive, ultra-selective, self-powering, mobile, wirelessly communicating detection applications.
  • UC Davis - The Northern California Nanotechnology Center (NCNC) is a world-class research, development and teaching facility for micro- and nanotechnology located at the UC Davis College of Engineering. Founded in 2004, the laboratory – a 10,000 square-foot, class 100 cleanroom facility – is dedicated to fostering and promoting research, development and teaching in the field of micro- and nanotechnology, as well as providing an effective environment for non-traditional applications of classical microfabrication.
  • UC Irvine - There are a number of groups working in nanotechnolgoy at UC Irvine, including Professor Peter Burke's research group, and several researchers within the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.
  • UC Los Angeles - The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) is an integrated research facility with locations at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Its mission is to encourage university collaboration with industry and to enable the rapid commercialization of discoveries in nanoscience and nanotechnology.
  • UC Merced
    • The interests of the Nanotechnology and Renewable Energy research group at UC Merced span traditional topics in condensed matter physics such as correlated magnetic phases and coupled quantum systems, as well as with emerging multi-disciplinary themes such as hybrid solar cells and plasmonics-based opto-electronic devices.
    • The Nanotechnology Focus Area of the UC Merced Energy Research Institute studies the use of nanostructures (e.g., nanoparticles, nanowires, and nanotubes) to develop new types of solar energy generation technologies. Research in this area includes using carbon nanotube solar cells and quantum dot semiconductors for solar energy conversion, and the generation of hierarchical architectures using nanomaterials that can be readily integrated for device applications such as solar cells.
  • UC Riverside - Research in the Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology Group focuses on the design, synthesis and processing of nanostructured materials including thin-film zeolites, carbon nanotubes, and nanowires and nanotubes of metals and semiconductors. These nanostructured materials are assembled into multifunctional devices for a wide range of applications such as spintronics,biosensors,thermoelectrics, dielectrics, and fuel cell catalysts and membranes.
  • UC San Diego - The Department of NanoEngineering at UCSD covers a broad range of topics, but focuses particularly on biomedical nanotechnology, nanotechnologies for energy conversion, computational nanotechnology, and molecular and nanomaterials.
  • UC San Francisco - The UCSF Nanofab allows researchers to fabricate and characterize biomedical micro- and nano-systems. Specific areas that have been enabled by this resource include microfluidic cell-based assays, nanoscale probes for imaging, biomaterials for orthopedic applications, drug delivery platforms for tumor targeting, and regenerative medicine.
  • UC Santa Barbara
    • The UCSB Nanofabrication Facility support a broad line of lithography, thin-film deposition, reactive ion etching, and characterization tools in support of device fabrication for a variety of materials, including InP, GaAs, GaN, SiC, Si, and other novel materials.
    • The NSF Center for Nanotechnology in Society at UCSB serves as a national research and education center, a network hub among researchers and educators concerned with societal issues concerning nanotechnologies, and a resource base for studying these issues in the US and abroad. The Center addresses education for a new generation of social science and nanoscience professionals, and it conducts research on the historical context of the nano-enterprise, on innovation processes and global diffusion of nanotech, and on risk perception and the public sphere.
    • The UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN) studies the effects of nanomaterials on a range of biological systems in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. From this research, the UC CEIN will design a comprehensive risk-ranking model, based on the potential toxicity, mobility, and persistence of the nanomaterials.
  • UC Santa Clara - A number of research groups are working in the area of nanoscience and nanomedicine at UCSC, including researchers in the Biomedical Research Group and the NASA Ames' University Affiliated Research Center. There is also a Nanochemistry Cluster in the COSMOS Summer School for Mathematics and Science.

California State University - Whilst it is less research-focused in general than the University of California, courses with a nanotechnology component are offered as part of the following programs at CSU:

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

  • Roukes Group - They conduct exploration of new physics at the nanoscale, and apply this knowledge to realizing advanced tools for the biomedical and life sciences. They deal with everything from systematic nanodevice engineering for practical applications, to biological investigations enabled by novel devices, to quantum measurements with nanosystems at ultralow temperatures.
  • Kavli Nanoscience Institute - The KVI aims to push nanofabrication capabilities beyond the current state of the art. Multi-user cleanroom and laboratories are available for nanostructure synthesis, fabrication, and characterization.
  • Caltech Nanofabrication Group - Under the leadership of Professor Axel Scherer, the group is primarily interested in the design, fabrication, and characterization of nanoscale photonic, magnetic, and fluidic devices and systems.
  • The Atwater research group is engaged in interdisciplinary materials and device research, spanning photonics and electronics and with applications in Si-based photonics, plasmonics, renewable energy and mechanically active thin film devices. Current research areas include nanocrystal electronic materials and devices, nanophotonic materials and devices, plasmonics, thin film and nano-enhanced photovoltaics, and ferroelectrics.

University of Southern California - USC Nanotechnology Research Laboratory, directed by Dr. Chongwu Zhou, has research interests in a variety of nanotech fields, including carbon nanotubes and graphene for devices and circuits, synthesis and applications of nanowires, biosensing, and drug delivery.

Recent Developments

In February 2012, researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and The State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY-Buffalo) have developed a method that increases the effectiveness of radiation therapy for head and neck cancer treatment in mouse models by more than 50 percent.

The researchers developed a nanoparticle formulation that sensitizes the tumor, and as a result, increases the efficacy of radiation therapy in a mouse model of head and neck cancer by half.

In August 2012, a team led by scientists at Caltech made the first-ever mechanical device that can measure the mass of individual molecules one at a time. This new technology, the researchers say, will eventually help doctors diagnose diseases, enable biologists to study viruses and probe the molecular machinery of cells, and even allow scientists to better measure nanoparticles and air pollution.

In September 2012, Nano-Sharp Inc., a new startup company at UC Davis, created razor blades and surgical tools through the use of semiconductor manufacturing technology. They will be producing these with silicon wafers which will reduce the cost compared to that of current silicon or ceramic blades.

In the same month, a "Challenges and Opportunities for Businesses Engaged in Nanotechnology" workshop was organized by the University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. Speakers consisted of scientists, government specialists, and international business leaders, who reinforced the fact that Nanotechnology is set to be a driving force for economic growth in California in the next decade.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback