Based on the U.S. nanotechnology I've seen in the past year and the current areas of commercialism I've put together a list of what seem to be the most economically valuable (or in certain cases controversial) U.S. patents.
U.S. Patent 7048903 (Rice University/Carbon Nanotechnologies)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7048903.pdf
Claim 1- "A dispersion of single-walled carbon nanotubes in a liquid comprising an aqueous detergent solution."
This is important for the separation of tangled nanotubes which is critical to the use of these materials in any one of the large variety of nanotube applications.
U.S. Patent 7052618 (Agilent Technologies)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7052618.pdf
Claim 1- "A nanostructure fabrication method, comprising: forming on a substrate a film including a vector polymer comprising a payload moiety; patterning the film; and removing organic components of the patterned film to form a payload-comprising nanoparticle."
Provides the common mass production processes of optical lithography for nanoparticle processing leading to potential for faster processing and greater fabrication precision for nanostructures.
U.S. Patent 7105596 (Rice University/Carbon Nanotechnologies)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7105596.pdf
Claim 1- "A composite material comprising: (a) a matrix, wherein said matrix comprises a polymer; and (b) a single-wall carbon nanotube material embedded within said matrix, wherein said single-wall carbon nanotube material comprises fibers of greater than 1,000,000 single-wall carbon nanotubes."
Basic patent for single walled nanotube/polymer composites applicable for stronger lightweight materials.
U.S. Patent 7132994 (Ambit Corp.)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7132994.pdf
Claim 1- "A resonant nanotube structure responsive to electromagnetic energy, said nanotube structure comprising: a substrate; and an ordered array of resonant nanotubes arranged on said substrate."
Basic patent for nanotubes used in light sensors and a variety of communication devices.
U.S. Patent 7153703 (University of Arkansas)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7153703.pdf
Claim 1- "A nanoparticle composition comprising: a nanoparticle coated with a plurality of dendron ligands covalently bound to a surface of the nanoparticle."
Avoids oxidation of nanoparticles and may be critical to use on nanoparticles in bioassays and other medical applications.
U.S. Patent 7120047 (Nantero)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7120047.pdf
Claim 1- "A selection system, comprising: a set of devices; a selector circuit to select at least one of the devices for access, the selector circuit comprising switches, each switch having a nanotube ribbon switching element."
Basic patent to nanotube ribbon electronics that is being commecialized by Nantero (reportedly this year).
U.S. Patent 7125605 (M.I.T.)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7125605.pdf
Claim 1- "A population of coated nanocrystals each comprising a size-selected core including a first semiconductor material and an overcoating including a second semiconductor material, wherein the population of coated nanocrystals exhibit photoluminescence having a quantum yield of greater than about 30%."
Provides for higher efficiency quantum dots useful in LED and biomarker applications.
U.S. Patent 7064372 (Nanosys)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7064372.pdf
Claim 1 - "An article, comprising a population of nanowires disposed in a thin film on a surface of a substrate, wherein: the population of nanowires is substantially oriented in a first direction; and the thin film has an area of greater than 10 square cm"
Basic patent for the nanowire macroelectronics that is being applied to RFID, solar cell, large area display, and other flexible electronic devices by Nanosys.
U.S. Patent 7099071 (Ambit Corp.)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7099071.pdf
1. A method of moving a carbon nanotube which is attached by one end thereof, to a junction on a substrate, said method comprising: applying a charge to said carbon nanotube; and providing a repelling force to an adjacent structure from said carbon nanotube to which said charge has been applied.
Basic patent to nanotubes used in nano-actuators, nano-motors, and a variety of nano-mechanical devices. Potentially overlapping with the nanotube mechanical memory devices planned to be commercialized by Nantero.
U.S. Patent 7148619 (Canon)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7148619.pdf
Claim 1 - "An electronic device comprising: (i) a first and a second electrodes; and (ii) a carbon nanotube electrically connecting the electrodes."
Basic patent for nanotube electronics.