Chemical Week: November 2005
Nanophase Technologies, a technology leader in nanomaterials and nanoengineered products, and Alfa Aesar, the research chemicals unit of Johnson Matthey, jointly announce the formation of a mutually exclusive partnership to supply selected nanomaterials for a variety of research and development applications. Alfa Aesar is well-known in the global research community and will be distributing research quantities of Nanophase's nanomaterials. Alfa Aesar currently plans to distribute approximately twenty-two Nanophase products, as nanoparticles and nanoparticle dispersions, to a global customer base that includes companies and academic institutions through their various sales and marketing channels.
Nanophase has historically offered research quantities of nanomaterial products for early stage research and development in addition to supplying metric ton quantities for commercially established applications. Nanophase's research materials business is one facet of the Company's business development activities and is intended to promote the use of its products in novel application development for long-term growth opportunities. Under the terms of the partnership, research quantities of selected nanomaterials and nanomaterial dispersions will be marketed in the new nanomaterials sections of the Alfa Aesar Catalog of Inorganics, Organics, Metals, and Materials to global customers via 12 million catalogs and Alfa's well-known website.
"Melding the strengths of Nanophase's integrated platform of nanomaterial technologies and delivery capabilities with Alfa Aesar's global marketing and distribution business is an ideal arrangement for building a stronger global market awareness of Nanophase's nanomaterial solutions," stated Ian Roberts, vice president of U.S. & International Sales. "This partnership is synergistic with Nanophase's market partner approach and leverages our sales and distribution capability by adding a world-class promoter of research materials. We anticipate that the partnership will significantly increase Nanophase's research sales, accelerate nanomaterial market penetration and application development, and contribute to Nanophase's revenue growth."
"Alfa Aesar is continually looking to add to its extensive product portfolio, and partnering with Nanophase allows us access to their cutting-edge technology and product lines," stated Barry Singelais, Director, Research Chemicals. "The Nanophase products will complement our existing high purity inorganic product line, and will give our customers a new line of nanomaterials for their research. Alfa Aesar will stock these products in our global distribution centers, allowing for same-day shipment to our customers."
Nanotechnologies Inc. (Austin, TX) is one of the few commercial startup nanomaterial companies. It has partnerships with several firms to develop applications for its nanoscale metals and oxides, and recently received an undisclosed equity investment from Air Products (CW, June 18, p. 17). Sales are expected to jump from $60,000 in 2002, to $1.2 million this year, and the company is on target to break even by first-quarter 2005, says Dennis Wilson, founder and chief technology officer.
Wilson got the idea for Nanotechnologies in 1999 when he was a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas (Austin). The plasma process can produce fine-tunable nanoparticles, and also has the advantage of being able to produce nanoscale metals, a much less crowded market than nanoscale metal oxides, Wilson says. He proposed the idea to a group of well-heeled local businesspeople—”CEOs of IPOs”—which became “angel” investors, providing $4 million to get Nanotechnologies off the ground. “They took me under their wing and made me into a businessman,” Wilson says. The company raised another $6.2 million financing in 2002.
Nanotechnologies has since expanded to a total of 25 staff, and it recently hired a seasoned industry executive, Randy Bell, as CEO, who has focused on developing partnerships targeted at high-value end-use markets. Deals include a partnership with Essilor (Charenton-le-Pont, France) to develop a nanoscale oxide-based optical coating, and one with AcryMed (Portland, OR) to develop the market for nanoscale silver antimicrobials. The deal with Air Products will target markets including electronics, Wilson says.
“We chose to work with Nanotechnologies because of its unique process, which produces outstanding metal and metal oxide nanoparticles,” says Jeffrey T. DePinto, business development manager/ nanotechnology strategies at Air Products. “Its technology is scalable and economical, and provides great potential value for high-growth markets in our performance materials division,” DePinto says.