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Home > Press > Rush to Market in Nanosensors, But Most Aren't 'Nano'

True nano-enabled sensors are rare; while size-dependent properties create dramatically improved devices, “good enough” existing alternatives limit opportunity

Rush to Market in Nanosensors, But Most Aren't 'Nano'

San Francisco, CA | May 26, 2005

Nanosensors have been pushed forward as a key early nanotechnology application, with boosters projecting billions of dollars in market opportunity. Sensors happen to be among the simplest electronic devices one can make from nanomaterials, yielding an abundance of development activity. But of 66 companies claiming to offer nanosensors, only 13 actually harness the size-dependent properties of nanomaterials, according to a new report from Lux Research entitled “Putting the ‘Nano’ in Nanosensors.”

Lux Research defines nanosensors as devices that employ nanomaterials, exploiting novel size-dependent properties, to detect gases, chemicals, biological agents, electric fields, light, heat, or other targets. Plenty of investment has gone into nanosensor companies; in March, for example, Nanomix received $16 million in Series C funding, primarily to move a disposable respiratory sensor to market. Homeland security spending has served as a potent catalyst: the $41 billion U.S. homeland security budget – and the creation of centers like MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, a $50 million research collaboration with the U.S. Army – has convinced entrepreneurs that a large addressable market lies on the other side of a working nanosensor.

“Nanosensors deliver sensitivity orders of magnitude better than conventional devices,” said Lux Research Senior Analyst David Lackner. “But today’s nanosensors aren’t ready for prime time. Until sample handling and selectivity issues are resolved, nanosensors can be deployed only under highly controlled conditions. Plus, costs are high and unlikely to fall in the near term. The mass markets that could deliver enough volume to bring prices down won’t adopt until sensors are cheaper, and the sensors won’t be cheaper until they’re produced in greater volume. Thus nanosensor players are aiming at military projects, where price is less of an issue, to break the cycle.”

For the report, Lux Research constructed an assessment tool categorizing 66 companies identified as offering nanosensors. The report is available immediately to clients of Lux Research’s Nanotechnology Strategies advisory service.

For information on how to become a client, contact Steve Mills at (646) 723-0163.


About Lux Research:
Lux Research is the world's leading nanotechnology research and advisory firm. We help our clients make better decisions to profit from nanoscale science and technology, tapping into our analysts' unique expertise and unrivaled network. Our clients include top decision makers at large corporations, portfolio managers and analysts at leading financial institutions, CEOs of the most innovative start-ups, and visionary public policy makers.

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