Saturday, July 09, 2005

Buckyballs, again

An article on nanotech, purportedly about patent problems with nanotubes, is illustrated with a buckyball (C60). Oh, well, ... If you can't tell the difference between a nanotube and a buckyball, you shouldn't be talking about nanotech patents.

But the situation is the reverse for carbon nanotubes, a leading candidate to be used in electronics as our ability to manipulate silicon reaches its limits [see "Supertubes," IEEE Spectrum, August 2004]. And that could turn the commercialization of carbon-nanotube electronics into a sticky mess. "If you pick up one of these patents, you're going to have to license a whole bunch of others in order to use the one that you've got," says Matthew Nordan, vice president of research at Lux Research. The best way for the industry to clear a path through the mess and get products out is cross-licensing, he says. And the best way to achieve this sort of arrangement is through organizations similar to the MPEG Licensing Authority, in Denver, Colo., a one-stop shop where consumer electronics companies can buy packages of digital coding licenses if they want to make, for example, a DVD player.


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