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Electronic device uses spur funding for nanomaterials

Nano-C and Nantero are targeting applications including new types of memory chips

by Melody M. Bomgardner
April 18, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 17

A micrograph image of very skinny nanotubes is shown.
Credit: Nano-C
Nano-C makes high purity dispersions of carbon nanotubes for use in electronic devices.

Two firms specializing in nanoscale carbon materials have raised funds to help them meet the needs of customers producing a variety of electronic devices.

Nano-C, an MIT spin-off founded in 2001, raised $11.5 million from investors including Ray Stata, cofounder of integrated circuit maker Analog Devices. Meanwhile, Nantero received $29.7 million in investments from strategic partners including the venture arms of Dell, Cisco, and Kingston Technology.

The two firms are connected: Nano-C supplies carbon nanotubes to Nantero for use in a new type of computer chip called nonvolatile random access memory.

In addition to chips, Nano-C says, its high-purity nanotubes, fullerenes, and functionalized nanomaterials will be used in printable organic photovoltaics, extreme ultraviolet lithography photoresists, and optoelectronic films used in electronic displays.

Compared to more prosaic uses of nanomaterials, such as polymer reinforcement, “electronics is definitely one of the harder application development efforts,” says Anthony Schiavo, an analyst at Lux Research.

Both firms’ ability to stay in business during many lean years is paying off, Schiavo adds. Nano-C developed very pure, but very expensive, nanomaterials, he points out, while Nantero spent time finding and focusing on its core market of memory devices.

Nano-C CEO Viktor Vejins says the company was “able to not just innovate but optimize, to where these devices are finally ready to commercialize.” He says the memory chips and photovoltaics will get to market in 2019; the display films will be ready in 2020.


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