SEMI Offers Nanotech Start-Up Database


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SEMI Offers FREE Nanoelectronics/nanoenergy Tracking Tool for Members

Just like most of the SEMI membership, we too have found most of the existing nanotechnology resources distressingly out of date, and too unfocused to be very useful; too heavy with companies making pharmaceuticals, sunscreens and anti-bacterial socks of limited interest to the electronics industry. So like most folks tracking developments in this area, we’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of our own of who’s doing what in nanotechnology that will impact the electronics and energy industries. And with so many member companies telling us they could use a better database for tracking this volatile commercial landscape, we’re making our internal tool available for members to use. Go to the Nanotechnology Members page and click on the link with the coin icon to view the report. You will be asked to login with your SEMI member company email address.

We don’t pretend this is the complete list of all companies worldwide involved in nanoelectronics and nanoenergy, but in our efforts to meet the needs of our growing nanotech membership, we have put considerable time and effort into tracking who these folks are and what they do. We’ve been collecting nanotechnology company data for the last year or so from nanotechnology company directories and listings, at nanotechnology events, and from news reports, and gathering product and technology information from company websites and executives. We’ve concentrated on tracking new players and new technologies, primarily start-ups and smaller companies, or those from outside the electronics sector, that are using nanoscale materials’ unique properties in new ways, in products that use electrons. This means we haven’t included the big names in mainstream semiconductors and semiconductor equipment and materials, even though they are driving major developments in evolutionary nanoscale processing.

Heavy sector concentration on nanoparticles and nanotubes so far, but staggering range of new technologies in the works

Most of the folks actually selling commercial nanotech products so far are materials suppliers, with the largest crowds scrambling after the nanoparticle and nanotube markets. But even within these niches there’s a vast variety of technologies, aimed at a wide range of different applications. And among companies developing nanoelectronics and nanoenergy-related applications, the diversity of technologies and products is staggering.

Almost half of the nearly 400 nanoelectronics and nanoenergy companies on our list make some sort of nano material. Another third are developing applications, and a quarter target supply. While the SEMI database doesn’t include all the companies in the world targeting nanoelectronics applications, it does represent a fairly diligent and wide ranging collection of data, and likely gives a reasonable overview of the current nanoelectronics and nanoenergy landscape.

Materials largely means nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes, with 78 companies supplying particles of various kinds, and 46 supplying carbon nanotubes or CNTs—those two products alone account for about two-thirds of the materials suppliers, and about one-third of the total companies in the database. (Totals exceed 100 percent because of overlap.) Note also that this figure includes just those companies that say they’re targeting some sort of application that uses electrons, not just sporting goods or cosmetics.

Nanoparticles, however, turns out to now include far more than just metal powders for conductive inks and coatings. Companies are making everything from organic nanoparticles for OLEDs; to solid nested nanospheres for solid lubricants for semiconductor equipment; high surface area, highly porous nano metal oxides that absorb chemicals for filtration.

Another hot area is analysis tools that can read nanoparticles’ patterns of magnetic properties or fluorescence or other assorted unique spectral characteristics to tag and identify everything from fake currency and designer clothes to frozen foods, tumors, and semiconductor wafers.

An even more wide-ranging variety is seen in the various products being developed by the companies on the list manufacturing devices of some sort. The most activity is focused on sensor and semiconductor markets, with some 21 companies each, followed closely by optoelectronics (17), while a dozen each target nanotech-enabled displays, batteries and solar cells. But that means that the largest group of companies (another 37) are working on developing other, less mainstream, applications. Much interesting work is afoot in thermoelectrics, with apparent progress on materials and systems to use electrons for cooling, or conversely to harvest energy from heat. Also intriguing are the developments in nanostructured membranes, not only for electrode membranes for fuel cells, but also for separating chemicals and gases, and for purifying and desalinating water.

Most of the companies on the list are focused on the semiconductor market, followed by optoelectronics, displays and sensors respectively. This clearly demonstrates the semiconductor industry as one of the largest target markets for nano-anything, and certainly nanoelectronics as the key market to benefit from nanotechnology, with over 65 percent of the companies targeting this market. Increasingly, there is a lot of effort focused on energy, including fuel cells, solar cells and batteries, with regards to hydrogen storage, increasing efficiency and a variety of other areas, making up the remaining 35 percent of target applications.

Please note that this basic beta-version working nanotechnology company database is not as elegant as a finished commercial product. We didn’t add macros to simplify searching, but we did try to make it easier to find players in particular fields by categorizing companies both by general type and by specific details for both technology and applications, all searchable by keyword using the Excel’s filter tool’s custom search option. We’ve made our best stab at including the most common likely key descriptive terms, but industry input on how to do this better, and on any other ways to make this tool more useful, would be much appreciated. We’ll try to incorporate suggestions and corrections in updated versions.

Please send your comments or questions to Lubab Sheet, senior director Emerging Technologies, SEMI at Lsheet@semi.org or 1.408.943.6921.