Kristin: Tuesday’s Plenary session featured three different speakers talking about applications, markets and innovation:
- A new class of nanomaterials brings power to the people – Roberto Mehalso. Bob talked about using nanoporous materials for super efficient batteries;
- Ten years along: is nanotech finally profitable? – Tim Harper. Tim talked about the expectations for nanotechnology markets; and
- Nanotechnology in Mexico: Current overview and perspective – Dr Francisco Medina. Francisco provided an overview and perspective of nanotechnology development in Mexico, specifically Jalisco.
A new class of nanomaterials brings power to the people – Roberto Mehalso
Bob demonstrated the microbattery in his phone by taking fast, flash photos of the audience again and again and again. He explained how the nanoprorous materials can be made from liquid crystal templates to produce highly effective and safe batteries for electronic equipment like cell phones. I’ve blogged Bob’s talk in more detail here.
The battery is made from a new class of nanoporous materials, produced by self-assembly of liquid crystal templates (basically soap) developed by Nanotecture. Mixing this surfactant with water gives rise to different chemical structures including micella, hexagonal, lamellar and cubic phases. This can be done using electrodeposition or chemical deposition and both methods can control pore size and structure…..
Ten years along: is nanotech finally profitable? – Tim Harper
Tim Harper from Cientifica reviewed the market success of nanotechnologies after 10 years. He stressed the importance of understanding the underlying technologies for investors and showed how many the share prices of many ‘nanotech’ companies declined through 2007 compared with a pretty flat sharemarket overall. Tim made the point that many of these ‘failures’ were based on the technology, rather than on an understanding of market needs (again we come to the issues of supply vs demand, technology push vs market pull). Companies who are making use of nanotechnologies as part of a broader customer solution eg BASF are more successful and he doesn’t think the VC model works well for emerging technologies. And he doesn’t think that public acccpetance is relevant. Tim also showed Gartner’s Hype Cycle (applied for nano) and suggested that the biggest issue for nano now is bridging the chasm between people who want technology and people who want solutions. Future expectations for nano? Tim says 80% of opportunities are in chemicals and pharmaceuticals by 2012.
Nanotechnology in Mexico: Current overview and perspective – Francisco Medina
Francisco Medina (from our host organisation) said that nano is alive and well in Mexico in theory, but in practice, the nano industry is not yet a major player.
- Stats on the supply side – 56 institutions, 449 researchers, 101 technicians, 87 postgraduate programs, 157 labs and 91 current projects.
- Stats on the demand side – 84 companies from Expansion (Mexican Fortune 500) recently responded to a survey. 50% of respondents ignore the subject (of nano), 76% have no or little lab infrastructure, 42% have no nano projects. He surmised that very few companies are actually involved in nanotechnology in Mexico.
Francisco also said that there is very little controversy over nano in Mexico and that most Mexicans are unaware – they don’t realise the size of the market or potential impact on their daily lives. Finally, Francsico said that Mexico does not need roadmaps or lots of money to laucnh its nano program. It needs imagination and political will! Nicely said!