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  • Carbon Nanotube Project Gets Funding
Dec 2005
NEW YORK, Dec. 12 -- Advance Nanotech Inc., a provider of financing and other services to support the commercialization of nanotechnology, today announced financing for epi-CNT, a new research project based out of the Center for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) at the University of Cambridge, UK. The epi-CNT project (short for epitaxial growth of carbon nanotubes) will explore the development of a new, inexpensive and precise method for the controlled growth of single-wall carbon nanotubes for optical and electronic applications. The amount of the funding was not disclosed.

Those involved in the project say that carbon nanotubes are vital to the advancement of nanotechnology due to their extreme electronic, optical and mechanical properties; nanotubes play a key role in a variety of materials-based research projects ranging from space elevators to artificial muscles to ultrahigh-speed flywheels. Single-walled carbon nanotubes can be insulating, semiconducting or metallic depending on growth conditions. This wide range of physical properties enables a plethora of electronic, optical and material applications, including transistors, interconnects in integrated circuits, and components for optical networks. Successful commercialization of carbon nanotube applications requires robust, manufacturable and inexpensive control of the properties of the nanotubes, according to Advance Nanotech.

"Carbon nanotubes hold great promise for the advancement of technology across several industries ranging from optics to electronics to advanced composite materials. However it has been very difficult to grow nanotubes tailored for specific applications," said Peter Gammel, senior vice president, electronics, for Advance Nanotech. "The epi-CNT project will provide a controlled, robust and inexpensive method for manufacturing nanotubes for use in optical and electronic applications. This is a critical step toward allowing engineers to successfully develop applications based on their unique properties."

Single-walled carbon nanotubes can be either semiconducting or metallic, depending on their twist angle or "chirality." However, most electronic and optical applications (transistors, interconnects, etc.) need either semiconducting or metallic tubes -- not both. Current growth methods produce a mixture of both semiconducting and metallic tubes. As a result, scientists must separate the different types of nanotubes before they can be used, a costly and time-consuming process. Those involved say the epi-CNT project will develop catalysts that will try to control the chirality during the growth process, resulting in the growth of a single type of nanotube (either semiconducting or metallic).

The investment in epi-CNT was made in partnership with CAPE, an integrated research facility for electrical engineering with a staff of 20 academics, 70 post-doctoral researchers and 170 research students. CAPE is funded by Advance Nanotech, Alps Electric Company Ltd., Dow Corning Corp. and Marconi Corp. plc and is designed to encourage move research activities into product development and marketing, in collaboration with industry. In the past five years, numerous patents have been filed and 10 spinoff companies have been formed from projects which began in the electrical division within Cambridge's department of engineering.

Advance Nanotech is currently funding 21 portfolio companies in the electronics, biopharma and materials industries. The firm provides services ranging from funding, to human capital and research equipment essential to ensuring that the most promising companies can accelerate the path to rapid commercialization. In this way, investor exposure to any particular technology is mitigated with Advance Nanotech retaining the option to increase investment in those technologies that successfully mature.

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That branch of science involved in the study and utilization of the motion, emissions and behaviors of currents of electrical energy flowing through gases, vacuums, semiconductors and conductors, not to be confused with electrics, which deals primarily with the conduction of large currents of electricity through metals.
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