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nanotechnology Nanotechnology is fundamentally a materials science that has the following characteristics:

  1. Research and development at molecular or atomic levels, with lengths ranging between about 1 to 100 nanometers.
  2. Creation and use of systems, devices, and structures that have special functions or properties because of their small size.
  3. Ability to control or manipulate matter on a molecular or atomic scale.

Nanotechnology — also known as Nanotech — impacts all high-tech fields and disciplines, and research activities in this leading edge science can be classified as follows:

  • Nanomaterials - physical substances with structural dimensions between 1 and 100 nm.
  • Nanotools - devices that manipulate matter at the atomic or nano scale.
  • Nanodevices - systems with nanostructured components that perform some assigned function other than manipulating nano or atomic scale matter.

Now that you know what nanotechnology is, how can investing in this small technology reap big rewards?  Just like investing in anything else, there are pitfalls when it comes to investing in nanotechnology.  But there is also great potential in this fascinating technology.

How do you determine whether investing in a certain nanotechnology company will fall in the category of "pitfall" or "potential"?  Well, the success of a company depends on three primary factors, and investors who pay attention to these fundamentals should have no problem separating good potential from bad.  First of all, ask yourself whether the company you are considering has the ability to produce the technology.  Second, is there a real need for the technology?  And third, is anyone else using — or in the process of developing — a better manufacturing method?  This doesn't mean that investors should only choose companies that are risk-free.  In fact, investors who take calculated, well-thought out risks often fare better in the end than those investors who don't.

Many innovations in nanotechnology simply sound too "weird" for investors to consider:  Technology for developing a cell phone so small that an insect or tiny implanted device could use it, for example, or molecular- sized "bombs" that can kill individual cancer cells.  While strong markets for such products don't exist now, they certainly might exist in the future.

When all is said and done, investing in nanotechnology is just like investing in anything else.  While nanotechnology can give some companies a real advantage, too many organizations are using the term loosely in order to woo investors.  It's up to the individual investor to apply due diligence to determine whether the opportunity is worth investing in.  The best investors, when all is said and done, investigate potential companies from a standard business perspective.

Private industry, academia, and government laboratories are working together to advance research in nanotechnology because its potential applications are many and varied.  Several years ago, Business Week (now Bloomberg) featured an informative article, entitled How to Invest in Nanotech, and this website provides information about diverse nanotechnology investment opportunities. More recently, however, Time Magazine published an insightful article about the Nanotech Mania Fading Away.

Nanotechnology Resources

  • Sevin Rosen Funds
    Venture capital firm with a successful track record of funding early-stage ventures.
  • NanoBusiness Alliance
    Industry association founded to advance the emerging business of nanotechnology and microsystems.
  • The Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies
    Strives to develop the scientific principles that govern the design, performance, and integration of nanoscale materials.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Advanced materials and nanotechnology research center.
  • Phantoms Foundation
    Interdisciplinary nanobusiness and nanoelectronics research network.
  • Fish & Richardson P.C. > Industries > Nanotechnology
    Provides a full range of legal services to clients workings in nanotechnology.
  • Foresight Institute
    Leading nanotechnology forum, focusing on the coming ability to build materials and products with atomic precision.
  • Project on Emerging Technologies
    Dedicated to helping ensure that as nanotechnologies advance, possible risks are minimized, public and consumer engagement remains strong, and the potential benefits of these new technologies are realized.  The project was established in April 2005 as a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • The Investor's Guide to Nanotechnology and Micromachines
    Glenn Fishbine's guide to the burgeoning field of nanotechnology.
  • Nanotechnology Word Cloud
    Nanotechnology information resources, news headlines, and bibliography.

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