2007 Best of Small Tech Awards

This is the sixth year of the prestigious Small Times’ Best of Small Tech Awards, which recognize the sector’s most exemplary products and people. The nomination and judging process began long before the awards were presented on November 15, during NanoCon International (see report, next page).

Entrants were nominated by themselves and/or peers; each submission was evaluated by the Small Times’ staff and a distinguished panel of industry experts, relative to each category. In determining the winners, our panel of judges considered criteria specific to each of the 11 categories. And except for the Lifetime Achievement award, which honors an entire career, awards were based on accomplishments between July 1, 2006 and July 1, 2007.

Our judges (see list on the right) deserve special credit for their diligence and the expertise they brought to the task. Each of them evaluated nominations in one to three categories (with full disclosure of any relevant relationships in this small community!). The evaluation process was often difficult, and in many cases worthy entries were edged out by a miniscule margin—which is, perhaps, testament to the energy and brilliance found in all areas of the sector.

Please join Small Times in congratulating not only the winners, but also the worthy runners-up—and in thanking all participants for their contributions.

2007 Lifetime Achievement Award

Honors: An individual in any discipline of small tech—e.g., research, engineering, business development, public policy, or finance—whose career has made consistent and important contributions to the sector.

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We invited Small Times’ 2007 Lifetime Achievement award winner to conclude the awards ceremony at NanoCon 2007 by addressing the audience. He obliged—with a presentation that highlighted the importance of standards for nanotech development and with an appeal for attendees to get involved in the standards process.

That kind of effort toward community building and improvement for the benefit of all is something industry players have come to expect from this year’s honoree, E. Clayton Teague, Ph.D. As director of the Federal National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) since 2003, Dr. Teague serves as a NIST representative to the National Science and Technology Council, reporting to the Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is also chair of the American National Standards Institute Technical Advisory Group to the ISO Technical Committee on Nanotechnologies (ISO TC 229). A tireless champion, he travels extensively to represent the small-tech sector to government, to support trade events and regional development efforts, and more.

But Teague has been working in the some of the fields now known as nano-technology since 1968. All of his academic degrees are in physics, and his work has included designing, constructing, and using scanning tunneling microscopes (STMs), atomic force microscopes (AFMs), and interferometers for ultra-high accuracy dimensional metrology. His accomplishments are too many to list, but include authoring or co-authoring more than 70 papers, jointly holding six patents, serving as editor-in-chief of the international journal Nanotechnology for 10 years, active participation in the metrology and standards communities for most of his career, and recipient of numerous awards, besides Small Times’ Lifetime Achievement 2007, including the Gold Medal, Silver Medal, and Allen V. Austin Measurement Science Award from the Department of Commerce, the Kilby International Award from the Kilby Awards Foundation, and an IR-100 Industrial Research and Development Award.

2007 Advocate of the Year

Honors: Industry activists who promote the small-tech industry and assist the growth of organizations and companies within the sector.

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The work of Dr. Horst Adams of Alcan Technology & Management Ltd. in Neuhausen, Switzerland, has furthered the transfer of nanotechnology R&D results to industrial applications. Specifically, Adams has established a global R&D network for the development of nanoparticle-enhanced materials, which during the past year has attracted the following institutions as members: Rice University (Houston), MIT (Boston), University of Texas at Dallas, Fraunhofer Institute (Germany), EMPA (Switzerland), Jiao Tong University (Shanghai, China), University of Dalian (China), Yonsei University (Seoul, South Korea), and SIIT (Matsue, Japan). In addition, he launched a global “peoples’ nursery” for young nanotechnology scientists, which sponsored its first theses (from the USA and China) during the past year.

2007 Advocate of the Year runners-up

Jean-Cristophe Eloy Yole Developpement (France)
Pekka Koponen founder and managing director, Spinverse Consulting (Finland)
Scott Livingston managing director, The Livingston Group, Axiom Capital Management Inc. (USA)
Del Stark CEO, European Nanotechnology Trade Alliance (UK)

2007 Application Product of the Year

Honors: OEM or end-user products that owe their unique characteristics to micro- and/or nanotechnology.

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Parallel Synthesis Technologies Inc.’s Silicon Microarray Technology, a micromachined set of silicon pin tools for printing DNA or protein microarrays. The printing elements produce microarrays with up to 50,000 spots of DNA (of about 250 picoliters each) on a 25mm x 75mm substrate, and are substantially less expensive than traditional technologies. Both micromachining and the unique properties of single-crystal silicon are essential for the performance of this product. The silicon pins offer many advantages over competing products, which are manually machined metal pins. They include 10-to 100-fold higher dimensional tolerances, 75% cost savings, higher pin-to-pin uniformity, more precise sample delivery and uptake, and longer pin life.

Parallel says that the technology’s potential scalability, reduced costs, and greater accuracy will allow the penetration of microarrays into medical diagnostics, drug discovery, pharma-cogenics, and protein engineering.

2007 Application Product of the Year runners-up

Discera’s MOS1
Polychromix Inc.’s PHAZIR Plastics Analyzer
VTI Technologies’ SCP100 Pressure Sensor
New Scale Technology’s Squiggle Motor

2007 Business Leader of the Year

Honors: Executives of micro/nano product, tool, material, or services companies who are successfully leading their companies through commercialization and market penetration. Serve as role models for responsible business and create a positive environment for workers.

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NanoDynamics’ chairman and CEO Keith Blakely exhibited strategic vision, technical leadership, and business acumen in leading the development of products capable of improving energy, water, and infrastructure globally. This past year, his initiatives have included introduction of the Rev 50H solid oxide fuel cell and launch of a joint venture (called Epik Energy) with Shell Technology Ventures to apply nanomaterials and nano-technology to solve some of the oil and gas industry’s most pressing challenges. NanoDynamics’ revenue grew $866,705 between 2005 and 2006, to $4,146,000.

He has established international and domestic partnerships to quicken the commercial success of NanoDynamics’ products and has identified/recruited leading executives to serve on its management team and board. And, this serial entrepreneur has made an ongoing commitment to guiding others in leadership, exemplified in chairmanships of the Western NY Technology Development Center and Erie County Industrial Development Agency’s Venture Investment Committee.

2007 Business Leader of the Year runners-up

Kevin Maloney QuantumSphere Inc.
David Moxam Authentix
Klaus SchroeterNANOIDENT Technologies AG
Erich ThallnerEV Group

2007 Company of the Year

Honors: Micro/nano product, tool, material, or services companies that provide superior products and/or services, are making major commercial advances in their industry(ies), and are focused on meeting customer needs.

FormFactor Inc. has worked to change the approach wafer probe card manufacturers are taking to tackle rising test costs through tighter collaboration with IC manufacturers. Form-Factor’s MEMS-based wafer probe cards enable manufacturers to validate their devices while they are still in wafer form, which leads to accelerated yield learning and reduced packaging costs. A key strength of FormFactor’s products is their ability to enable high test parallelism—that is, increase the number of die tested during each touchdown on the wafer surface—which improves throughput.

FormFactor introduced several new products during the past year (including Harmony XP and PH150XP) that enable greater parallelism in DRAM test. And, it achieved a milestone for its Takumi parametric probe card, which has now been adopted by 20 leading IC manufacturers. In addition, FormFactor developed a full-wafer probing contact technology that can provide a 10x reduction in pitch and potentially allow the probing of 1000x more contacts on a 300mm wafer in a single touchdown.

This past year, FormFactor selected a site in Singapore for its second manufacturing facility. The company has continued to achieve record revenues for nine consecutive quarters, and for fiscal 2006 grew revenues 55% (to $369.2 million), outpacing both the semiconductor and semiconductor capital equipment markets.

2007 Company of the Year runners-up

Authentix Inc.
Knowles Acoustics
NANOIDENT Technologies AG

2007 Innovator of the Year

Honors: Individuals who creatively develop products, services, businesses, and applications to further the progress of micro- and nanotechnology and its adoption.

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Dr. Yuri M. Lvov is a professor of chemistry, and the Tolbert Pipes Eminent Endowed Chair in Micro and Nanosystems at Louisiana Tech University. He has worked during the past year to pioneer drug reformulation through polyelectrolyte nano-encapsulation, which has allowed stable nano- and micro colloids of important cancer drugs. He extended the same approach for improvement of cellulose microfibers from recycled paper through polyelectrolyte nanocoating, which has allowed increased usage of recycled fiber in paper. His results are protected with four US patent applications and were widely published in peer-reviewed journals. All products resulting from Dr. Lvov’s research are available in large scale.

Dr. Lvov’s total citation index is above 4,000. His NSF, NIH, NASA, DoE grants, and industrial contracts have exceeded $5 million in the last five years. In November 2006, Lvov was named the Louisiana State’s Top Researcher in New Technologies (an annual Louisiana award for the best researcher).

Dr. Lvov was among the pioneers of the layer-by-layer nanoassembly technique based on alternate adsorption of oppositely charged components.

2007 Innovator of the Year runners-up

Stephen Y. Chou Princeton University
Paul J. Glatkowski Eikos Inc.
Wan-Thai Hsu Discera
Daniel Resasco, Ph.D. SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc.

2007 Micro/Nano Tool of the Year

Honors: Products designed to facilitate discovery, characterization, or production of micro- and nanotechnologies or applications.

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Nanopowders and fine micron-sized powders do not flow in a consistent manner when dry. Hence, in dry form, they cannot be used to produce thermally sprayed coatings. This category of industrial coatings has been shown to benefit greatly by the use of nanomaterials, but applications have been limited by the lack of production equipment to deliver nano-powder coatings.

Northwest Mettech Corp.’s Model 650 Nanofeed Liquid Powder Feeder bridges that gap. As far as we can discern, this is the first tool on the market aimed at producing thermal spray coatings of nanopowder and ultra-fine micron powders. Its availability means that thermal spray coatings can now be considered a viable commercial option to replace coatings currently produced through higher cost methods, such as PVD. Applications include thermal barrier, fuel cell, catalytic, and solar cells.

2007 Micro/Nano Tool of the Year runners-up

CytoViva Inc.’s CytoViva Imaging System
IntelliSense’s IntelliSuite
BioForce Nanosciences Inc.’s Nano eNabler
Nanonex Corp.’s Nanoimprint System

2007 Nanomaterial of the Year

Honors: Materials or applications of nanomaterials that significantly advance existing products or enable new products.

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QuantumSphere Inc.’s QSI-Nano Manganese is a catalyst material used in the cathode of zinc/air batteries to increase their longevity and power output more than 320%, enabling new power applications. Zinc/air batteries have one of the highest weight energy densities of all portable power sources.

QSI-Nano Manganese is blended with carbon, Teflon, and a current collector, and pressed into sheets. These sheets are incorporated directly into the cathode compartment of the battery. QSI developed a special process to blend these materials, to highlight and promote nanoparticle catalytic activity.

QSI says Nano Manganese offers the highest purity, uniformity, and catalytic activity on the market and can be produced in volume to meet the demand for next-generation portable power sources. Catalyst purity and uniformity are essential in a high-performance battery, and QSI’s nano-catalyst production process purifies the catalyst in-situ, without the need for costly purification steps downstream from the production process.

2007 Nanomaterial of the Year runners-up

Phiar Corp.’s Metal-Insulator Electronics
nCoat Inc.’s N01
SusTech’s Thera-med
Advanced Diamond Technologies Inc.’s UNCD Wafers

2007 Researcher of the Year

Honors: Individuals whose investigative and novel discoveries are expected to have significant impact on the future development of micro- and/or nanotechnology-based products and applications.

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Rice University professor Ching-Hwa Kiang applies a nano-technology solution to a difficult, longstanding biology question: protein folding. Using atomic-force microscopy to do single-molecule manipulation and force measurement, she has developed a technique for stretching a protein and following its path to understand folding pathways. This work is important because protein misfolding may result in malfunction of biological processes and disease such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even cancer. The technique can also be applied to any proteins as well as RNA and DNA, and it’s expected to lead to further discoveries in medical and life sciences.

Her discovery was published in Physical Review Letters and is widely publicized.

Kiang and her co-workers discovered single-walled carbon nanotubes in 1993 [US patent 5,424,054 and Nature 363, (1993) 605]. Since Kiang joined the Rice faculty in 2002, she has focused her research on nanoscale biophysics. Her recent breakthrough in the emerging field of biological physics has demonstrated her potential to be a leader in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

2007 Researcher of the Year runners-up

R. Douglas Carpenter QuantumSphere Inc.
Zhihong Chen IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center
Dr. Claude Gagna New York Institute of Technology
Dr. John J. Kasianowicz National institute of standards and technology

Report from NanoCon 2007

By Barbara G. Goode
“Not everything we pursue succeeds,” said Agilent Technologies’ CTO Darlene Solomon in the opening keynote address at NanoCon International, which was held November 13-16, 2007 in Santa Clara, CA. “If it did, we wouldn’t be asking enough questions.”

Questions and answers were a feature of every session, including the pre-conference workshops on advanced nanomanufacturing and best practices for environmental, health, and safety.

Solomon’s keynote included predictions that indicate increasing integration. For instance, she said that “hyphenated techniques” (e.g., combined methods such as spectroscopy and microscopy) will become increasingly common in the next five years. And, she noted, “nano informatics” will leverage the example set by bio informatics to integrate heterogeneous data.

The keynote panel discussion that followed explored nanomaterials manufacturing and turned up some interesting revelations—and more predictions. For instance, Dr. Alan Gotcher, president and CEO of Altairnano, expects a doubling of production in 2008 following Altairnano’s 300% growth in 2007, and says his company can reduce its costs by one-third each year. And another panelist, Dave Arthur, CEO of Southwest Nanotechnologies (SWeNT), said SWeNT is producing Kg/day now and resisting the temptation to “move up the value chain,” but he sees consolidation coming. However, “everyone is struggling with pricing,” said Gotcher.

Besides the keynotes, the sessions attracting the greatest numbers of attendees focused on smart materials, alternative energy applications, and integration of nano into OEM products. The conference ended with presentations by international representatives, and an exploration of the positive impacts of nano.

For 2008, the event has been renamed “Small Tech Conference and Expo” and will be held November 10-12 in Santa Clara. It will include greater coverage of MEMS and other small tech—a change that corresponds with Small Times’ own vision.

2007 Best of Small Tech judging panel

Bruce Alton, Micralyne
Pamela Bailey, TinyTechJobs
John Barratt, Natural Carbon
John Bedz, Michigan Small Tech
Tom Breunig, The Adelsa Group
Gene Burk, MEMS Consulting Services
Richard Carter, Ultra Electronics
Don Featherstone, Sterne Kessler Goldstein Fox
Lynn Foster, Greenberg Traurig
Joe Glachino, Wireless Integrated Microsystems ERC, University of Michigan
Patti Glaza, Clean Technology and Sustainable Industries Organization
Avinash Kant, Broadpoint Securities
Kelly Kordzik, Fish Richardson
Scott Livingston, Axiom Capital
James Peterson, Jones Day
Jeffrey Rosedale, Woodstock Washburn
James Ryan, College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, U. Albany
Katie Szcsepaniak Rice, Wasatch Venture Fund
Mauricio Terrones, Advanced Materials Department, Instituto Potosino de Investigacion Cientifica y Tecnologica, Mexico
Cynthia Volkert, Institute for Materials Physics, University of Gottingen, Germany
Neil Wyant, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business


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