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Posted: July 1, 2010
Well over 2000 companies worldwide already involved in nanotechnology
(Nanowerk News) At the latest count, over 2100 companies from 48 countries are involved in nanotechnology research, manufacturing or applications - a number that keeps growing at a considerable pace.
With more than 1100 companies, the U.S. is home to roughly half of all nanotechnology firms. 670 companies are in Europe, 230 in Asia and 210 elsewhere in the world. Within Europe, Germany is represented with 211 companies, followed by the U.K. with 146 companies.
Over 270 companies are involved in the manufacture of raw materials such as nanoparticles, nanofibers and -wires, carbon nanotubes, or quantum dots. More than 340 companies are active in life sciences and pharmaceutical fields. The vast majority with well over half of all companies are involved in manufacturing instruments, devices, or advanced materials and components.
Relevance of the Nanoscale to Industry
Nanotechnology is not an industry; nor is it a single technology or a single field of research. What we call nanotechnology consists of sets of enabling technologies applicable to many traditional industries; therefore it is more appropriate to speak of nanotechnologies in the plural.
The ongoing quest for miniaturization has resulted in tools like the atomic force microscope and the scanning tunneling microscope. Combined with refined processes such as electron beam lithography, these instruments allow researchers to deliberately manipulate and manufacture nanostructures; something they couldn't do before. Engineered nanomaterials, either by way of a top-down approach (a bulk material is reduced in size to nanoscale patterns) or a bottom-up approach (larger structures are built or grown atom by atom or molecule by molecule), go beyond just a further step in miniaturization. They have broken a size barrier below which quantization of energy for the electrons in solids becomes relevant. The so-called quantum size effect describes the physics of electron properties in solids with great reductions in particle size. This effect does not come into play by going from macro to micro dimensions. However, it becomes dominant when the lower nanometer size range is reached. Materials reduced to the nanoscale can suddenly show very different properties compared to what they show on a macroscale. For instance, opaque substances become transparent (copper); inert materials become catalysts (platinum); stable materials turn combustible (aluminum); solids turn into liquids at room temperature (gold); insulators become conductors (silicon).
A second important aspect of the nanoscale is that the smaller a nanoparticle gets, the larger its relative surface area becomes. Its electronic structure changes dramatically. Both effects lead to greatly improved catalytic activity but can also lead to aggressive chemical reactivity.
The fascination with nanotechnologies stems from these unique quantum and surface phenomena that matter exhibits at the nanoscale, making possible novel materials and revolutionary applications.
The Nanotechnology Company Directory
Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature and broad range of nanotechnologies, a comprehensive company directory compiled by Nanowerk, the leading nanotech information site, groups nanotechnology companies into four main categories:
biomedicine and life sciences
products, applications, and instruments
services and intermediaries.
Each category is made up of several sub-categories to provide a detailed breakdown into a relevant industry structure. For instance, the main category products, applications, and instruments consists of these eight sub-categories;
This is the latest directory offering from Nanowerk and, like all other Nanowerk databases and directories, the Company Database is freely accessible on the Nanowerk website.
A valuable addition to other Nanowerk services like the Nanomaterial Database™, the nanoDEGREE database database, a free nanoJOBS job posting service, the NanoBusiness section, various directories, or a packed events calendar, the Nanowerk Company Database is yet another example of Nanowerk's continuing effort to provide relevant and high-quality content and services to the nanotechnology community that go far beyond just printing press releases.