In the Commercialization of Nanotech It's Rarely about the Technology

Problems with technology are not among the main obstacles to the commercialization of nanotech

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 Back in March, the tech news sites were aflutter with news of “nanoball” batteries that can charge a phone in 10 seconds.

Now Spectrum has an article in which a number of scientists are disputing the performance claims made by the MIT researchers who developed the technology. In the article it appears that just lurking beneath the controversy are developing disputes about IP and patent infringement.

Earlier this year, and actually for some time, I have been expecting more news to be coming out on nanotech and batteries. We got a rash of stories and with them expectations of near-term commercialization of these technologies.

I have been recently harping about how research is coming out a dizzying pace over the last few years in nanotech, but there is a shocking lack of commercialization.

The kind of patent and IP hurdles faced above is one factor and others include the shrinking private funding of companies  and a comparatively well-organized group of environmental groups who feel as though they have stumbled upon genetically modified crops and asbestos all wrapped up into one with nanotech.

With these factors it's a wonder that any companies involved in commercializing nanotech make it. Even companies that just a few years ago were touted as a success story are now seemingly falling apart.

There's plenty of blame to go around in this, not the least of which would be some of the poor business practices of these struggling companies, but when lawyers, short-sighted and greedy investors, and rabid NGOs are out to see something fail, it's hard to see how it can possibly succeed.

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The luminaries who dared predict the future of the transistor for IEEE Spectrum include: [clockwise from left] Gabriel Loh, Sri Samavedam, Sayeef Salahuddin, Richard Schultz, Suman Datta, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and H.-S. Philip Wong.

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The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

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