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Monday, March 28, 2005

Nanotech has Arrived

I sincerely appreciate the work of analysts and writers who strive to provide a balanced assessment of nanotechnology’s future potential. As reader’s of this newsletter will appreciate, I’m among the first to call “bullshit” on companies that I think are over-hyping their technology—and often their stock’s—potential.

On the other hand, too many articles now seem to be going the other way and are minimizing the extraordinary progress the field of nanotechnology has already made. This approach is just as unhealthy as is undue “hype.” As examples, I cite two recent articles. The first comes compliments of “The Street”—an investment-related news source. Overall, the article provides a fair and balanced assessment of nanotechnology but, near the end, it states that “[t]urning these new properties into new products will take some time.” The statement is fair enough—in that there are still a great many new nanotech-related products on the horizon. But it is unfair in the sense that it seems to imply that there are few products yet on the market.

The second article, entitled Where are all the New Products is far less thoughtful and bemoans “the lack of nanoproduct commercialization in the United States.” (I would argue that commercialization in today’s global society is largely irrelevant … but that is a topic for a separate article.)

The fact is that there are a great number of “nanoproducts”—even in the U.S. For instance, American Pharmaceutical Partner’s new cancer treatment, Abraxane, employs nanoparticles. Quantum Dot’s nanocrystals are being used by Roche Diagnostics and GlaxoSmithKline. 3M’s is manufacturing nanocomposite tooth filler. General Motor’s is using nanocomposites in its 2005 Chevy Impala. Apollo Diamond is rearranging carbon atoms to manufacture synthetic diamonds. ChevronTexaco has spun-off a new nanotech company called Molecular Diamonds. Hybrid Plastics has been employing its POSS ™ technology to improve the characteristics in a number of plastics for quite some time. Inframat’s nanocoatings have been employed on the hulls of U.S Navy ships and on the engines of Air Force jets. NanoFilm has been making nanocoatings for windows, sunglasses and a variety of other products . Hyperion Catalysis’s FIBRILs ™ are being used in electroconductive polymers and Nanoscale Material’s FAST-ACT, which being used to neutralize hazardous chemical and biological agents, is already on the market.

The list of nanoproducts could go on and on. My point is that just as it is dangerous to over-hype nanotech, it is equally foolish to downplay its potential. The bottom-line is that nanotechnology is here today and it is only going to grow more prevalent in the not-to-distant future. Those investors who take a realistic assessment of nanotechnology will be the ones who profit.

Jack Uldrich

Related Links:
Nano-based Drug Delivery
Nanotechnology & the Dow Index of 2025