Manipulating materials at 1 billionth of a meter…
The minute scale of nanotechnology and nanomaterials can be hard to fathom. 1 nanometer (nm) is 1 billionth of a meter, or 0.00000004 of an inch – a single strand of human hair is between 80,000 and 100,000 nm. The fact that such a scale exists and that useful activity can be done at that level is not a new concept, but it’s certainly a mind-blowing one for many of us. As neatly described by Gabriel Silva in Forbes in 2021: “Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary area of science and engineering that focuses on technologies and methods capable of manipulating and controlling materials and devices at a molecular scale using physical or chemical methods, or both. Typically, this takes place within a range of about 1–100 nanometers (nm).”
Given these complexities of scale you can rest assured that the smartest brains on the planet are attempting the mastery of nanomaterials. Nevertheless, even those scientists at the cutting edge of this most exciting of technological frontiers would likely be candid about the struggles in one particular area for nanomaterials – scale-up.
Industry-wide, the results of endeavors to scale-up nanomaterials have been mixed. Few companies have mastered the art of scale-up when it comes to taking a novel nanomaterial that can be produced at scale – and that is broadly accepted by manufacturers, end users, governments and the wider public as a safe, economical and useful new nanomaterial. Why?
This report seeks to outline first the technical challenges in nanomaterials scale-up, followed by the commercial barriers to growth, before outlining some key considerations that will enable both users and manufacturers of nanomaterials to maximize this exciting technology faster, more economically and with optimal performance results.