Nanotechnology Market Segments (Archived Report)

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(Archived Report)
Nanotechnology Market Segments

by James G. Barr

Docid: 00011131

Publication Date: 1609

Publication Type: MARKET


Nanotechnology allows objects
to be built with molecular precision by machines called assemblers, which
themselves are only a few atoms in size. In a nanotech world of the future,
assemblers will routinely manufacture inanimate objects in much the same
way that plants and animals are built by the molecular machines we know as
proteins. The ability to build at this scale and with this sort of
exactitude endows human beings with nearly absolute control over the nature
of matter. It is, in short, the stuff of science fiction made real.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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A branch of engineering, nanotechnology concerns itself with the design and
manufacture of objects and structures built at the molecular level of matter.


derives its name from the nanometer, an SI unit of measurement equaling
one billionth of a meter, or roughly equivalent to the diameter of four
medium-sized atoms. (SI stands for
System of Units.
) Nanotechnology is not just one science, but rather, a
broad field of investigation embracing many disciplines of engineering, physics,
chemistry, and the life sciences.

Nanotechnology is still a
very new field of study, and much of its most promising application lies
ahead. However, early achievements are powering solutions to problems in
computing, medicine, transportation, energy, and defense.

  • Nano scale circuits are pushing the size and power requirements ever
    lower for computer processor chips and storage devices.

  • Nanoscale
    particles are being used to preferentially target cancer cells with
    chemotherapy agents, sparing surrounding healthy tissue.

  • Carbon
    nanotube materials used in auto and aerospace components have dramatically
    increased strength-to-weight ratios and are not susceptible to failure
    from fatigue like metal alloys.

  • Researchers
    have used nanotechnologies to create soft, lightweight, easily portable
    solar cell arrays.

  • US
    military forces use nanostructured materials to protect vehicles, improve
    armor, and build autonomous combat vehicles.

As for potential uses, nanotechnology may be employed to facilitate space
travel. By far the greatest cost in space
exploration is going the first hundred miles: Launching payloads measured in
tens of tons into low-earth orbit. In one of the more futuristic (some
suggest fanciful) applications of nanotechnology, NASA envisions the use of
carbon nanotubes in the manufacture of super-long, super-strong space elevator
cables. First popularized by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1978 novel

Foundations of Paradise
, the concept of a space elevator is relatively
simple: Put a platform in space (in geosynchronous orbit with the Earth) and attach two cables. One cable goes to the Earth and the other is attached to a captured asteroid,
which acts a counterbalance to keep the platform from being pulled out of orbit. Now put the equivalent of an elevator car on the cable and you have a space
elevator. Instead of propelling satellites and other cargo into orbit by
rocket, people and materials would simply be lifted into space.


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A nanometer is one billionth of a meter (10-9 meters).
To get a better indication of scale, there are 25,400,000 nanometers
in one inch. Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter
at the nanoscale – between about 1 and 100 nanometers – and encompasses nanoscale science, engineering, and technology
as well as imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length
scale.1 Successor to micro-technology, which was responsible for the birth
of the personal computing and Internet industries, nanotechnology is seeing unprecedented growth. Nanoscale
compounds and materials have already appeared in consumer
products such as sunscreen, wrinkle- and stain-resistant clothes,
improved cell phone displays, coatings for eyeglasses, computer chips,
etc. A few additional examples include:

  • Nanocomposites. Nanocomposites are engineered materials
    that outperform
    traditional alloys in terms of strength, weight reduction, and/or
    accelerated chemical interactions. 
  • Nanocrystals. Nanocrystals of various metals have been shown to be up to
    300 percent harder than the same materials in bulk form.
  • NanotubesNanotubes produce materials that are very strong at very light
    weights. Depending on their structure, these tubes can be metals or
  • Nanoceramics. In healthcare, nanoceramics are used in dental implants and bone repair.

Other technologies are evolving and to promote development
several standards have been created, including ISO/TR
11360:2010 which describes a classifying system featuring a nano-tree where wide ranges of nanomaterials
can be categorized.

However, nanomaterials are not
just engineered; some occur
naturally, such as volcanic ash, sea spray, and smoke. In fact,
nanoscale materials have been used for thousands of years. As an example, nanoscale
gold was used in stained glass. As we know it today, nanotechnology began
around 30 years ago, and in 2000, the US National
Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was developed to help researchers
network and optimize development. In the future, we can expect to see
more nanotechnology-based medicines including using nanoparticles to
deliver toxic anti-cancer drugs to target tumors directly as well as
improving imaging tools. Nanotechnology can even help us go green by purifying drinking water and cleaning up environmental waste
and nanosensors
may soon help us detect food-borne pathogens.

Market Segments

Nanotechnology applications and nanomaterials are becoming ubiquitous across
the industrial spectrum. According to Research and Markets: Global Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials
Industry – 2013
, nanotechnology is influencing a wide range of market
segments, including:

  1. Adhesives and sealants
  2. Aerospace and aviation
  3. Automotive
  4. Communications
  5. Civil engineering, construction, and exterior
  6. Hygiene, cleaning, and sanitation (including
  7. Electronics and photonics
  8. Energy
  9. Environment
  10. Food, agriculture, and beverage
  11. Marine
  12. Medical and life sciences
  13. Military and defense
  14. Packaging
  15. Paper
  16. Personal care
  17. Plastics and rubber
  18. Printing
  19. Product security and anti-counterfeiting
  20. Sensors
  21. Sporting and consumer goods
  22. Textiles
  23. Tools and metals

Today’s consumers represent the
broadest – if not necessarily the biggest – beneficiaries of
nanotechnology. For example:

  • Nanoscale additives in polymer
    composite materials for baseball bats, tennis rackets,
    motorcycle helmets, automobile bumpers, luggage, and power tool
    housings can make them simultaneously lightweight, stiff,
    durable, and resilient.
  • Nanoscale additives to or
    surface treatments of fabrics help them resist wrinkling,
    staining, and bacterial growth, and provide lightweight
    ballistic energy deflection in personal body armor.
  • Nanoscale thin films on
    eyeglasses, computer and camera displays, windows, and other
    surfaces can make them water-repellent, antireflective,
    self-cleaning, resistant to ultraviolet or infrared light,
    anti-fog, antimicrobial, scratch-resistant, or electrically
  • Nanoscale materials in cosmetic
    products such as complexion treatments, creams and lotions,
    shampoos, and specialized makeup provide greater clarity or coverage, cleansing,
    absorption, and antioxidant, antimicrobial, and other health
  • Nano-engineered materials in the
    food industry include nanocomposites in food containers to
    minimize the growth of
    bacteria in order to keep foods fresh. Nanosensors built into plastic packaging can warn against
    spoiled food and are being developed to detect
    salmonella, pesticides, and other contaminates on food before
    packaging and distribution.
  • Nano-engineered materials in
    automotive products include high-power rechargeable battery
    systems, thermoelectric materials for temperature control,
    lower-rolling-resistance tires, high-efficiency/low-cost sensors
    and electronics, thin-film smart solar panels, and fuel
    additives and improved catalytic converters for cleaner exhaust
    and extended range.
  • Nano-engineered materials make
    superior household products such as degreasers and stain
    removers, environmental sensors, air purifiers
    and filters, antibacterial cleansers, and specialized paints and
    sealing products.2

Current View

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Nano Products Are Plentiful

Maintained by The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, the Nanotechnology Consumer Products Inventory
lists 1827 products that have been introduced to the
market since 2005. The products are divided into eight
categories for easy reference and information retrieval:

  • Appliances – 68 products
  • Automotive – 214 products
  • Cross Cutting – 142 products
  • Electronics and Computers – 101 products
  • Food and Beverage – 118 products
  • Goods for Children – 37 products
  • Health and Fitness – 908 products
  • Home and Garden – 356 products

Note: Some products appear in multiple categories.

Nano Risks Are Real

According to a 2012 National Research Council Report entitled “U.S. Nanomaterial Risk Assessment Needs Much Improvement,” the
federal government needs a better management plan and additional budget
to assess the potential environmental and health risks posed by
nanomaterials. Unfortunately, the means to perform the assessment does
not currently exist, despite the rapidly expanding presence of
nanomaterials in consumer goods. With the number of products containing
nanomaterials expected to increase, the council cautioned that
nanomaterials, as well as the populations and environments being
exposed, should be identified and quantified, nanomaterial interactions
should be examined, and infrastructure should be in place to facilitate
feedback.3 The NNI is committed to working with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to forge a path forward to achieve the goal of the responsibly developing nanotechnology.

However, as analyst Steven Vaughan observes, “Potential
risks from nano are both unknown and unknowable. Unknown because little
risk assessment has taken place to date … and unknowable
because scientific expertise in chemical assessment has not kept pace
with scientific expertise in nanotechnology. Put simply, we are not
currently capable of testing all of the inherent properties of all nanomaterials.”4

Thus, this
continued focus on safety issues and risks is vital, especially with
the current nano market flourishing and the promising outlook for
nanotechnology over the next several decades.


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Overall Market Growth

BCC Research revealed in a November 2014 report, Nanotechnology: A Realistic
Market Assessment
, that the global market for nanotechnology is expected to
reach $64.2 billion by 2019, a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of
19.8 percent. According to BCC:

  • Nanomaterials, particularly nanoparticles and nanoscale thin films, dominated
    the nanotechnology market in 2013, accounting for 78.8 percent of the market. This segment is predicted to grow to $52.7 billion by 2019 and register a
    healthy 20.7 percent CAGR.
  • Nanotools …, which is comprised of devices that are used
    to manipulate or measure nanoscale objects or substances, accounted for 21
    percent of
    the 2013 nanotechnology market. This segment is expected to reach nearly $11.3
    billion by 2019 to register a solid CAGR of 16.2 percent.
  • Nanodevices …, which was valued at just $39 million in 2013,
    is projected to surge to $183.4 million in 2019. This growth will primarily be
    driven by increasing consumer demand for smaller and more powerful electronic

Market Segment Growth

Fueling the overall growth in nanotechnology is
demand in several distinct market segments.

Nanomaterials. In a December 2014 report,
Nanotechnology Industry Review and Prospects: Key
Technologies and Markets in 2015 and Beyond
by Research and Markets, 2014 witnessed
numerous major advances enabled by nanomaterials in
consumer electronics (quantum dots), medicine and
coatings technology. The number of nanocellulose and
graphene producers and applications developers has
grown significantly. Other 2D nanomaterials are now
the focus of widespread research.

Carbon Nanotubes. Plunkett
Research reports that as of 2015, so much progress had been made in
nanotech research and development that commercialization was accelerating
broadly. One factor boosting the adoption of nanotechnology is an increase in
the manufacture and availability of carbon nanotubes. These nanotubes have been
shown to have highly valuable qualities, including incredible strength,
extremely light weight and high conductivity of electricity.

Nanomedicine. The global market for healthcare nanotechnology is growing rapidly according to
a new study by Grand View Research. The ability of engineered nanoparticles to
cross through the blood brain barrier provides [a] platform for groundbreaking
innovations … in the field of cancer therapy.

Technological Advancements

According to Research and Markets, recent major technological advancements in
the nanotechnology market are:

  1. Medicinal drug delivery
  2. Crop protection and
    live stock productivity
  3. Water purification
  4. Early detection of
    various chronic disorders or diseases
  5. Solar energy storage.6


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According to the NNI, nanotechnology has the potential to “profoundly change our economy
and improve our standard of living, in much the same way as information
technology advances have revolutionized our lives and the economy over
the past two decades.”7
However, many major applications for nanotechnology are still up to a
decade away, while private investors are more interested in
shorter-term returns on
investment. Thus, the government must continue to fund this technology heavily for the time being. At the same time, more private sources of
funding will be necessary to ensure autonomy for nanotechnology
entrepreneurs pioneering innovations designed to serve a broader market beyond
government. The following recommendations should be considered for the nanotechnology market:

  • Funding from venture capital firms may be
    necessary to drive more commercialization of research. Government funding alone may not promote broad innovation.
  • Training
    for future nanotechnology workers should begin now, as two million
    nanotechnology jobs are projected to be needed in the US alone by 2020.
  • The US government needs a better plan
    to assess the potential environmental and health risks posed by
    nanomaterials. Merely putting “nano” on labels is not sufficient to warn consumers of potential dangers.
  • With the market poised for extreme growth, these recommendations need to be seriously considered sooner rather than later.


1 National Nanotechnology Initiative.

2 Ibid.

3 National Research Council.

Steven Vaughan. "Laying Down the Law on Nanotechnology." Guardian News and Media
. June 11, 2012.

5 "Healthcare Nanotechnology (Nanomedicine) Market Size to 2020."
Nanotechnology Now. June 5, 2015.

6 "Global Nanotechnology Market Insights, Opportunity,
Analysis, Market Shares and Forecast 2016-2022." Research and Markets. 2016.

National Nanotechnology Initiative.

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About the Author

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James G. Barr is a leading business continuity
analyst and business writer with more than 30 years’ IT experience. A member of Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Mr. Barr
has designed, developed, and deployed business continuity plans for a
number of Fortune 500 firms. He is the author of several books,
including How to Succeed in Business BY Really Trying, a member
of Faulkner’s Advisory Panel, and a senior editor for Faulkner’s
Security Management Practices
. Mr. Barr can be reached via
e-mail at

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