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The future is in nanotech
Focus on new applications for carbon nanotubes / Japan is an important driver for Bayer MaterialScience's innovation strategy / Dr. Tony van Osselaer guest speaker at the International Nanotechnology Business Summit
Bayer is successfully exploiting the innovative potential of nanotechnology, as demonstrated by the appearance of Bayer MaterialScience and Bayer Technology Services at the NanoTech fair in Tokyo from February 21 to 23, 2007. As the world's largest trade show for nanotechnology, with over 45,000 visitors, 385 exhibitors and 740 stands last year, NanoTech will be presenting a broad spectrum of highlights in this field again this year. Centrally located in Hall 4 of the Tokyo Big Sight convention center, the German Pavilion will house a joint exhibition by the German industry and science community showcasing Germany's concentrated expertise in nanotechnology. And it is impressive, commensurate with the country's position as a top player in the global nanotech business. The Bayer exhibits (Booth C-16J, Hall 4) focus on Baytubes® carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Bayer Technology Services and Bayer MaterialScience teamed up to develop a cost-effective production process for CNTs that paves the way for their industrial application.
The future of the material sciences is closely linked to nanotechnology. "The main purpose of our appearance here in Tokyo is to communicate the truly remarkable possibilities of Baytubes® to a broad professional audience," explains Martin Schmid, head of the new Baytubes® operations at Bayer MaterialScience. "For example, they make plastics not only electrically conductive, but also very stable and strong. At the same time however, the material remains extremely lightweight." These improved properties are already being put to use today in the production of various sports goods, such as ski poles and baseball bats. Carbon nanotubes are also in great demand as electrically conductive additives for the manufacture of antistatic packaging used to pack sensitive electronic components, for example. "The potential is enormous and the Asian market is very important for nanotechnology," observes Schmid. "With investments totaling US$ 2.7 billion in 2005, Japan ranks number two in the world behind the United States. Research and development are given top priority in Japan. Considering this it is no wonder that Japanese researchers like Dr. Sumio Iijima have made key contributions to the discovery and characterization of the CNT class of materials. We want to take advantage of NanoTech and stage a constructive exchange of ideas on new fields of application for our Baytubes®."
Japan is an essential element in Bayer MaterialScience's innovation strategy in the Asian region. "We maintain very close contacts with our Japanese customers. As global trendsetters, they not only are critical for the local commercial success of Bayer MaterialScience, but also play a significant role in both our APAC and global business growth," says Andreas Amling, senior country representative for Bayer MaterialScience in Japan, summarizing the far-reaching significance of the Japanese market. "Japan is a technology superpower and has the world's second-largest consumer market. With our New Business department for the APAC region here in Tokyo, we have our finger on the pulse of the market when it comes to identifying trends in their infancy and subsequently converting them into product innovations and new business models," Amling continues.
Another example of current research activity at Bayer MaterialScience is the study of highly functional, UV-resistant carbosiloxane crosslinkers. Sol-gel technology helps to obtain highly crosslinked, nanoparticulate coatings that are extremely scratch-, weather- and chemical-resistant, as well as anti-adhesive. The crosslinkers could be used in hard coat systems for plastic parts, in automotive clear coats to protect against bird droppings and scratches, or in anti-graffiti paints. Bayer MaterialScience already has a nanomaterial for sale on the market: the Dispercoll® S line of silica dispersions. They serve as formulation components for one-component, water-borne polychloroprene (Dispercoll® C) dispersion adhesives, which are an environmentally friendly alternative to solvent-borne adhesives and can be used, for example, for bonding floor coverings, shoes and foams. Similarly, a new generation of flame-retardant Bayblend® FR polycarbonate/ABS blends is now commercially available. Their improved fire performance is based on special oxidic nanoparticles combined with other additives, which together promote the formation of flame-retardant carbon deposits on the surface of a plastic in the event of fire. The application potential is considerable, particularly in housing components for the household appliance, entertainment electronics and information technology industries.
At the "International Nanotechnology Business Summit", an accompanying event at the NanoTech fair, the main theme is the worldwide cooperation between industry and science. This event provides a platform for exchanging experiences and discussing potential applications for nanotechnology. On February 22, Dr. Tony van Osselaer, Bayer MaterialScience Board member responsible for production and technology, will outline the significance of nanotechnology as a platform for various areas of innovation, such as intelligent materials, functional surfaces, energy and medical technology, from the standpoint of a leading global material manufacturer.
Also at NanoTech, Bayer Technology Services will be presenting its comprehensive nanotechnology know-how and service package. In addition to the development of cost-effective processes for synthesizing and handling custom nanoparticles such as Baytubes®, it primarily includes the modification and processing of nanoparticles in support of application development activities, as well as the characterization of nanoparticles. "By combining synthesis and process development with characterization, we are able to offer our customers effective support on an industrial scale for the development of innovative products based on nanotechnology," explains Dr. Axel Eble, head of Product Design & Nanotechnology at Bayer Technology Services. These services are used in the development of new materials, but also in the life sciences for pharmaceuticals and crop protection products. For example, nanophosphors for diagnostic applications are to be introduced at the event.
Another main theme of Bayer's trade show appearance is the company's extensive research activities in the safe and responsible use of nanomaterials, including its involvement in numerous initiatives, such as the NanoCare project. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), this research project pools the expertise of 13 businesses, universities and research institutions. Working together, they aim to elaborate generally accepted measurement and testing methods that can be used to evaluate the safety aspects of nanomaterials. Bayer is further involved in a number of working groups in the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), in the Responsible Production and Use of Nanomaterials Working Group of the Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (DECHEMA) and in international standardization (ISO) for nanotechnology.
About Bayer MaterialScience AG
With sales of EUR 10.7 billion in 2005, Bayer MaterialScience AG is one of the world’s largest polymer manufacturers. Its main fields of activity are the production of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of everyday life. The main consumer sectors are the automotive, electrical/electronics, construction, sports and leisure industries. Bayer MaterialScience has production facilities at 40 sites around the world and a workforce of approx. 18,800. Bayer MaterialScience is part of the Bayer Group.
More news and information about products, applications and services of Bayer MaterialScience can be found at http://www.bayerbms.com . Data and facts about the company itself can be found at http://www.facts.bayerbms.com .
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