Nanotechnology Appears To Be in Retreat

While new reports indicate that nanotechnology is not getting commercialized as expected, at least we can still count on huge market numbers and NGOs demonizing the technology

1 min read
Nanotechnology Appears To Be in Retreat

The Australian Academy of Sciences in a soon-to-be-released report indicates that the number of nanotechnology companies in Australia is declining from an estimate of about 80 to around 55, and that the technology is simply not finding its way into commercial products.

According to the report, one of the key obstacles to this commercialization is “often dysfunctional” university intellectual property offices. I have covered this problem of poor tech transfer offices before when discussing a Cientifica report that came out late last year that recommended the following in order to start making money from nanotechnology: "Fire 90% of university tech transfer people and replace them with people who understand how small businesses and science based innovation actually works.”

While that draconian measure may in fact fix the problem (or not), TNTLog recently noted that once you overcome that hurdle you are faced with regional obstacles in the shape of poorly conceived government innovation frameworks. This failure of government research policy is particularly acute in Europe as a recent report  from the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School details.

There have been at least two short-term results that I have noticed from this inability to get research from the lab into markets.

One is that Lux Research, which is widely referenced for its nanotechnology market numbers that finally reached an apex of $2.9 trillion by 2014 and $1.5 trillion for 2010, has reduced its estimates by 21% to $2.5 trillion in 2015.

The second result (or lack thereof) is that despite Australia’s Academy of Sciences noting the dwindling prospects of nanotechnology in its country, Australia’s Friends of the Earth will continue to portray nanotechnology as a monolithic industrial agent of heartless corporate globalization. Some things never change.

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.

Avicena

If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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