Nanoscience has made an impact on a range of industries. With continuous developments, it will only get more exciting for investors.
Although the terms nanoscience and nanotechnology have been around for a long time, it’s common for them to be used interchangeably. However, it’s important to note that they are not the same.
According to Erasmus Mundus, the European Union’s higher education program, nanoscience refers to the study, manipulation and engineering of particles and structures on a nanometer scale. For its part, nanotechnology is described as the design and application of nanoscience.
In simple terms, nanoscience is the study of nanomaterials and properties, while nanotechnology is using these materials and properties to create a new product.
With that being said, here the Investing News Network provides a comprehensive look at nanoscience investing and nanomaterials, with an overview of the subjects and where they are headed in the future.
What is nanoscience?
The University of Sydney’s Nano Institute describes nanoscience as the study of the structure and function of materials on the nanometer scale. Nanometers are classified as particles that are roughly the size of about 10 atoms in a row.
Under those conditions, light and matter behave in a different way as compared to normal sizes.
“These behaviours often defy the classical laws of physics and chemistry and can only be understood using the laws of quantum mechanics,” the university’s research page states.
The Institute of Nanoscience of Aragon identifies carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as one example of a component that is designed at the nanoscale level. These structures are stronger than steel at the macroscale level.
Scientists, researchers and industry experts are enthusiastic about nanoscience and nanoparticles.
As noted in a study published by Jeffrey C. Grossman, a University of California student, quantum properties come into play at the nanoscale level. In simple terms, at the nanoscale level, a material’s optical properties, such as color, can be controlled.
Further, the paper states that the surface-to-volume ratio increases at the nano size, opening up “new possibilities for applications in catalysis, filtering, and new composite materials, to name only a few.”
In other words, the opening up of surface area, which adds new possibilities, can have drastic effects on everyday activities like manufacturing. New applications in catalysis can allow manufacturing to be sped up, while new composite materials can add more dimension to an end product.
What are nanomaterials?
As the Royal Society puts it, the aim of nanoscience and nanotechnologies is to produce new or enhanced nanoscale materials. Nanomaterials are formed when materials have their properties changed at the nanoscale level.
Nanomaterials involve elements that contain at least one nanoscale structure, but there are several subcategories of nanomaterials based on their shape and size.
According to the Royal Society, nanowires, nanotubes and nanoparticles like quantum dots, along with nanocrystalline materials, are said to be nanomaterials.
While these are broader classifications of nanomaterials, each of them has several submaterials. Graphene is one popular submaterial and is an example of a nanoplate.
The Integrated Nano-Science & Commodity Exchange, a self-regulated commodity exchange, includes a wide range of nanomaterials and related commodities and lists around 897 nanomaterials.
The exchange states that it is adding 200 new items each week for trading, along the lines of other commodities such as metals, energy and agricultural products. It plans to continue adding more materials each week as its entire product range is in excess of 4,500.
As can be seen, nanoscience and nanotechnology are used in a variety of applications across diverse fields, from energy to manufacturing. The University of Sydney’s Nano Institute highlights how nanoscience impacts manufacturing, energy and the environment through the continuous development of new nano and quantum materials.
Similarly, nanomaterials like graphene are having a major impact in the technology field — graphene is used for various purposes, including in cooling and in batteries.
Zion Market Research has predicted that the global nanomaterials market will see a revenue surge to US$16.8 billion by 2022, up from US$7.3 billion in 2016.
In the US, the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a US government research and development initiative that involves 20 federal and independent agencies, has received cumulative funding of US$27 billion since 2001 to advance research and development of nanoscale projects.
Investing in nanoscience
With growth predicted across multiple areas and industries, and with researchers and institutes working on developing the nanoscience field, investors have a slew of stocks to consider.
One popular investment avenue is via graphene, with companies in the space including Applied Graphene Materials (LSE:AGM,OTC Pink:APGMF) and Haydale Graphene Industries (LSE:HAYD). Nanotech stock options include NanoViricides (NYSE:NNVC), Nanophase Technologies (OTCQB:NANX) and Sona Nanotech (CSE:SONA,OTC Pink:LMTCF).
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bala Yogesh, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.