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Nanotechnology is one of the most important technologies in this century and it is evoking a new industrial revolution. Nanotechnology is changing basic research in the fields of information technology, biological science, environmental science, energy sources, material science, and others. The trend of industrial elements toward small features, high density, fast transmission, low energy cost and high production rate, has generated a greater requirement of miniaturization for elemental materials. Nanomaterial containing nanostructures are the best material to fulfill these needs. Carbon nanotubes are among the most broadly discussed, researched and applied.
Since their discovery in 1991, carbon nanotubes have attracted much attention and research funding, due to the strength of their cylindrical structure, which is constructed of a hexagonal array of carbon atoms. Their structure, as well as the unique electrical, magnetic, and optic characteristics have generated a huge potential of industrial and scientific applications. The fields of carbon nanotube applications include: photo-electric elements, electric elements, biomedical science, energy materials, and artificial diamonds. International technology and industry are focused on this technology, without regard to countries, or research fields. International industrial giants with interest in this technology include IBM, Intel, and NASA in the United States, NEC, Samsung and Showa Denko Companies in Japan, and Max-Planck Institute in Germany. International technology companies are keenly interested in the application of the carbon nanotube to current and future technologies. There can be as many as 40 billion carbon nanotubes contained in a square millimeter.
Carbon nanotubes are microscopic, tube-shaped structures, which essentially have a composition of a graphite sheet rolled into a tube. Carbon nanotubes have unique, interesting and potentially useful electrical and mechanical properties, and offer potential for various uses in electronic devices. Carbon nanotubes also feature extremely high electrical conductivity, very small diameters (much less than 100 nanometers), large aspect ratios (i.e. length/diameter ratios greater than 1000), and a tip-surface area near the theoretical limit (the smaller the tip-surface area, the more concentrated the electric field, and the greater the field enhancement factor). These features make carbon nanotubes ideal for electron field emitters, white light sources, lithium secondary batteries, hydrogen storage cells, transistors, and cathode ray tubes (CRTs).
STUDY GOAL AND OBJECTIVES
The goal of the study was to perform an exhaustive look at the field of nanocarbon materials, with a focus on single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT), multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWNT) and fullerenes, while also investigating carbon nanofiber production and technology. More than 180 companies were found to be manufacturing nanocarbon materials that measured 100 nanometers, or less. Those companies are profiled in the report, which includes contact information. Companies that have gone out of business, or merged with other companies in the past two years, are also noted.
Further, an exhaustive search was made of companies, which are incorporating carbon nanotubes and other nanocarbon materials into products that are now being sold. In addition, the study looked at products, which are under development, and are likely to enter the market in the next five to ten years. The activities of more than 900 companies and institutions in the past two years are noted.
SCOPE AND FORMAT
The primary focus of the report is the production of multi-wall carbon nanotubes and single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT). However, attention is paid to producers of nano-carbon fibers that range above and below the threshold for nanotechnologies, having a measurement smaller than 100 nanometers. The report examines production of carbon nanomaterial in Europe, Asia and North America
Attention is also paid to producers and consumer of graphene, which is basically an unrolled carbon nanotube, consisting of a single atom layer of carbon molecules. The report provides a brief, but thorough, update on activities in the field of carbon nanomaterials for the past two years and projects their growth through 2015.
Both the International Standards Organization (ISO) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) subdivide nanomaterials into “nano-objects” and “nano-structured materials.” According to ISO TS 27687, nano-objects include nanoplates, nanofibers and nanoparticles, and are nano-scale at least in their exterior measurements. In other words, they measure between one and 100 nanometers in length, width or height. Another ISO working group is currently working on the hierarchy and definitions of nanostructured materials, which include materials with a nanoscale structure within the material or on its surface. Prominent examples are nanocomposites, agglomerates and larger aggregates.
Nanocarbon products include single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNT), fullerenes, graphene, carbon nanofiber and nanodiamonds. Production capacity for all products increased from 996 metric tons in 2008 to more than 2190 tons in 2009 and 4065 tons of capacity in 2010, and is expected to exceed 12,300 tons in 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 24.8% a year. Total production value is expected to reach about $435 million in 2010 and reach a value of $1.3 billion in 2015.