Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Ten U.S. Nanotechnology Patents for 2007

Several hundred nanotech patents have issued over the past year. This is my list of the top ten based on the potential for near-term commercialization/value and claim breadth in light of the potential market.

10) US Patent 7,195,754 (Eikos Inc.)

This patent presents basic claims to carbon nanotubes as a component of sunscreen with advantages to UV blocking.

Claim 1 - "A sunscreen composition containing carbon nanotubes."

9) US Patent 7,179,561 (Nanosys)

This patent is basic to the use of nanowires in PEM fuel cells.

Claim 1 - "A fuel cell comprising inorganic nanowires which are derivatized with at least a first functional group which binds to a metal catalyst deposited on a surface of the nanowires, wherein the nanowires are deposited or directly grown on a proton exchange membrane of the fuel cell."

8) US Patent 7,274,998 (Intel)

This patent is basic to a near-field approach to high resolution maskless lithography.

Claim 1 - " An apparatus comprising: an array of nanowires placed at a distance to a resist layer, the array forming a plurality of light emitting diodes (LEDs), the distance corresponding to a near field region of light emitted by the LEDs with respect to the resist layer; and a control circuit coupled to the array to control the LEDs to emit the light to pattern a feature in the resist layer. "

7) US Patent 7,291,284 (Nanoink)

This patent is basic to the use of dip pen nanolithography in sub-50 nm lithography processes.

Claim 1 - "A method of nanolithography comprising: providing a substrate and a nanoscopic or SPM tip; using the tip to apply a patterning compound from said tip to the substrate so as to produce a desired pattern which is a chemical etching resist; and chemically etching the substrate. "

6) US Patent 7,272,010 (Advanced Micro Devices)

This patent is basic to the use of carbon nanotubes to enhance the thermal conductivity of a circuit board.

Claim 1 - "A circuit board, comprising: a substrate including a source material interspersed and in physical contact with a first plurality of unbundled carbon nanotubes; and at least one conductor coupled to the substrate."

5) US Patent 7,295,503 (Hewlett-Packard)

This patent is basic to the use of nanotubes as electron emitters for storing data in phase change or other material for high density memory.

Claim 1 - "A data storage device comprising an array of nanotubes as electron field emission sources."

4) US Patent 7,256,466 (Harvard)

This is the basic patent to functionalized semiconductor nanowires (important to sensors).

Claim 1 - "An article comprising: a semiconductor nanowire comprising a core region and an outer region surrounding the core region, wherein the outer region is selectively functionalized with a chemical or biological species added to the nanowire after construction of the nanowire. "

3) US Patent 7,312,155 (Intel)

This patent is basic to forming transistors from single nanowires.

Claim 1 - "A method comprising: etching a gap along the length of a nano-electrode to form a transistor."

2) US Patent 7,264,990 (Nantero)

This is a basic patent to semiconductor processing of nanotube films using a mask which is important for integrating carbon nanotube with current semiconductor fabrication methods.

Claim 7 - "A method of making a conductive article on a substrate, comprising: providing a substantially planar fabric of pre-formed nanotubes on the substrate; depositing a mask layer over the fabric of pre-formed nanotubes; defining a pattern in the mask layer, the pattern corresponding to the shape of the conductive article; removing nanotubes in accordance with the pattern of the mask layer to define the conductive article. "

1) US Patent 7,298,016 (Nantero)

This is a basic patent to carbon nanotube electronics using lithographically defined structures.

1. A circuit comprising: a structure having a conductive trace; and lithographically patterned element of pre-defined shape formed from a nanotube layer disposed in spaced separation from the conductive trace.