Heightened Profile for Nanotech?

During a hearing on the future of nanotechnology by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Altair Nanotechnologies president and CEO Alan J. Gotcher, PhD, urged increased federal funding, suggesting that nanotech be compared to the man-on-the-moon and human genome projects. "Private-sector participation is critical — federal funding to for-profit companies has to be accepted as a trade-off for their sharing of results," said Gotcher. (www.altairnano.com)

Meanwhile, other developers announced and demonstrated new nano-based sensors. The Korean company Planet82 Inc. claims the first U.S. demonstration of an image sensor that uses nanotechnology to enable high-resolution photos or video in the dark without a flash. Planet82 says its Single Carrier Modulation Photo Detector (SMPD) is 2000 times more sensitive to light than other image sensors. The company used the principles of quantum mechanics to produce thousands of electrons from one photon. SMPDs can be produced using standard CMOS processes. (www.planet82.net)

And at the Nano Tech 2006 show in Tokyo, Nano-Proprietary Inc. subsidiary Applied Nanotech showed hydrogen and carbon monoxide sensors and biosensors based on enzyme-coated carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Nano Tech is reportedly the world's largest nanotechnology exhibit and conference, drawing approximately 45,000 visitors. (www.icsinc.co.jp/nanotech/index_e.html, www.nano-proprietary.com)

Finally, market research by NanoSensors Inc. shows that demand for sensors will grow rapidly over the next few years and that the Department of Homeland Security, foreign governments, and the private sector will demand security products and services. NanoSensors plans to create new paradigms for secure and safe military, homeland, and commercial venues. Its next generation of sensors will be based on porous silicon and CNT technology to detect explosives, chemicals, and biological agents at very low concentrations.