Sunday, September 17, 2006

Top Ten Broadest US Patents for Nanostructures

I have started playing around with automated sorting techniques to organize large sets of patents into ordered lists according to claim breadth. I applied these techniques to 1,754 nanostructure patents classified in class 977 (nanotechnology) of the US patent classification system and extracted the top ten most interesting results. Note: the sorting is based on the number of limitations in the claim and is not necessarily indicative of economic importance but merely the overall breadth of issued nanostructure claims. Here are the top ten results:

1. US Patent 5523438 (Hoerst AG, priority July 23, 1993)

Claim 1 - "A transition metal-fullerene intercalation compound."

2. US Patent 6940086 (Georgia Tech Research Corporation, priority Sept. 28, 2001)

Claim 1 - "A nanostructure, comprising a tin oxide (SnO2) nanowire."

3. US Patent 5424054 (IBM, priority May 21, 1993)

Claim 3 - "A hollow carbon fiber having a wall consisting essentially of a single layer of carbon

4. US Patent 6552172 (Habto Biotech, Inc., filed August 30, 2001)

Claim 1 - "Isolated fibrin nanoparticles having a mean diameter of 200-2000 nm."

5. US Patent 5958358 (Yeda Research and Development Co., Ltd., priority July 8, 1992)

Claim 1 - "A fullerene-like or nanotube structure of a transition metal chalcogenide."

6. US Patent 6368713 (Japan Science and Technology Corporation, priority July 18, 1997)

Claim 1 - " A hollow carbon microcoil having a pitch that is substantially zero."

7. US Patent 6939524 (The Regents of the University of California, priority March 5, 1999)

Claim 1 - " A composition of matter comprising a solid state material consisting essentially of C36 fullerene molecules."

8. US Patent 5310669 (The Trustees of Dartmouth College, priority June 22, 1992)

Claim 1 - "A substrate comprising a fullerene-coated surface having a biological substance attached to the fullerene-coated surface."

9. US Patent 6843850 (IBM, priority August 23, 2002)

Claim 1 - "A single-walled nanotube that has been manufactured in the absence of a catalyst."

10. US Patent 6683783 (Rice University, priority March 7, 1997)

Claim 1 - "A composition of matter comprising at least about 99% by weight of single-wall carbon molecules."

#3 and #9 are probably the most interesting as they give IBM pretty much complete control of single walled carbon nanotubes (at least until the patents expire). If anyone would like the complete sorted list of all nanostructure patent (~2.6 Meg Excel spreadsheet) send requests to

Coming Next Week - Top Ten Broadest US Patents for Manufacturing Nanostructures (e.g. dip pen nanolithography, nanoimprint lithography, self assembly, etc. )