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Everyday Nanotechnology

Producing Nanoparticles

Research, development, and production in the areas related to nanotechnology require premanufactured nanoparticles and other basic nanomaterials. One of the first nanoparticles created was the buckminsterfullerene, often shortened to “buckyball” or “fullerene.” Buckyballs are spherical molecules made up of sixty carbon atoms, measuring about one nanometer in diameter. Another nanoparticle, the carbon nanotube, consists of a lattice of carbon atoms forming a cylinder. It is useful for its light weight combined with a tensile strength greater than that of steel. Both of these carbon nanoparticles are used in the commercial manufacturing of various products. Yet another versatile nanoparticle is the quantum dot, or “nanocrystal.” Because of properties resulting from the arrangement of its electrons, a quantum dot produces light when charged with energy. The specific wavelength of light emitted depends on its size and composition.

Supply companies manufacture these nanoparticles, as well as other nanomaterials such as nanowire, nanoclay, nanopowders, and nanocoatings. The market for nanomaterials will grow in coming years as more nanotech products are developed. It is a competitive market, and as a result, the high price of nanomaterials is already falling.

Nanomaterials manufacturing offers career opportunities in research and development, as well as production. To remain competitive in the future, companies will focus on developing high-quality and specialized products. Many companies already produce nanomaterials intended for specific applications in semiconductors, fuel cells, catalytic converters, flat-panel displays, plastics, health care, and various other industries.

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