Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nanotechnology and fullerenes

According to a press release, Lux Research and Foley & Lardner LLP reviewed all issued U.S. patents relating to eight classes of nanomaterials: 1) carbon nanotubes, 2) metal nanoparticles, 3) aerogels, 4) ceramic nanoparticles, 5) dendrimers, 6) quantum dots, 7) fullerenes, and 8) nanowires. The analysis reviewed 2,738 patents in total, covering 52,148 relevant claims that cross seven application categories.

It's not clear why carbon nanotubes are separated from fullerenes, because all carbon nanotubes are fullerenes (not all fullerenes are nanotubes, eg buckyballs.)

The press release also notes:

Carbon nanotube and quantum dot applications in electronics, where many crowded and vulnerable patents indicate a high likelihood of legal wrangling, are battles worth fighting. The large addressable markets relevant to these nanomaterials justify the cost of navigating the unfavorable patent outlook.

In healthcare/cosmetics applications nanomaterials with crowded or vulnerable patent landscapes like dendrimers, ceramic nanoparticles, and metal nanoparticles represent battles worth fighting because of the broad applicability of these materials to a number of large addressable markets.

Hidden opportunities - characterized by a favorable patent outlook and large market potential - occur in energy applications of ceramic nanoparticles like high-performance cathodes in the $48 billion battery market, and in electronics applications of nanowires which could keep Moore's Law going in the next decade.


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