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Q & A With Len Yencharis
September 2002An interview with Dr. Dennis Wilson, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Nanotechnologies, Inc., and co-inventor of the proprietary process...
LEN YENCHARIS, AI: Since important discoveries such as the detection of RNAi results were verified with microscopy to detect the results of molecular interaction, is there an opportunity for the microscopy vendors and software suppliers to look at nanomaterials as a business opportunity?
DR. DENNIS WILSON, NANOTECHNOLOGIES: As the nanoparticle market continues to develop, three likely categories of customer for microscopy and image analysis software will emerge. First, the nanoparticle manufacturers already need these tools for the development and quality control of their materials. Companies such as Nanotechnologies, Inc.—already developing and producing a variety of nanopowders—are challenged with characterizing these materials on a daily basis. In many cases, current tools are inadequate for characterizing the small particle sizes (less than 10 nm) being produced.
An additional opportunity lies with purchasers of nanoparticles: companies which are incorporating nanoparticles into other products. These companies will have need for tools to assess the quality of their application of nanoparticles. The semiconductor manufacturing industry is currently wrestling with establishing in-line quality checks of CMP slurries prior to and during the wafer polishing process. The abrasive particles contained within the slurries must have a dispersion density and particle-size distribution suitable for meeting new stringent wafer contour requirements.
The third opportunity will be research and academic institutions, such as universities and government research laboratories. There, these tools are needed for ongoing research and education regarding nanoparticle development and behavior. The number of university nanotechnology and biotechnology centers is growing in the race for top-notch science and academic talent, and for the growing pool of available government and private money for these fields. These centers will need to characterize their work for publication and spin-off just as the commercial sector needs to characterize product.
YENCHARIS: Is there a need for standards to test and qualify (SPC—Statistical Process Control or other) nanomaterials for impurities—or are we looking at a process that may not need inspection in the traditional sense?