Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top Ten Nanotechnology Patents of 2012

The following is a list of the most interesting nanotechnology patents this past year (in my opinion):

#10 - US 8093786 - Nanoscale piezoelectrics (Stevens Institute of Technology)

This patent teaches manufacturing piezoelectric nanofibers enabling the fabrication of nanoscale sensors and actuators.

#9 - US 8289352 - Erasable printing with nanoparticles (HJ Laboratories)

This patent teaches using nanomagnetic particles as an erasible ink in a printer.

#8 - US 8121162 - Nanocrystal laser (MIT)

This patent has priority going back to 2001 and includes some basic claims for nanocrystal coatings of diffraction gratings used for optical feedback in lasers.

#7 - US 8323976 - Genetic alteration using nanodiamonds (International Technology Center)

This patent includes basic claims reciting nanodiamonds as delivery particles used in ballistic DNA injection.

#6 - US 8113437 - "Memristor" RFID (Hynix SK)

Hynix SK is HP's manufacturing partner for a form of nanoscale ReRAM which HP (incorrectly) equates to the memristor theorized by Leon Chua in the 1970's. This is the first patent from Hynix mentioning memristors and may be indicative of the first commercial application.

#5 - US 8278757 - Printed graphene electronics (Vorbeck Materials Corp./Princeton University)

This patent incudes some basic claims for using graphene as an electrically conductive ink for printed electronics.

#4 - US 8182807 - Stroke treatment using nanoparticles (University of Nebraska)

Nanoparticles have a specific advantage in delivering drugs across the blood-brain barrier and this patent (priority 2004) seems to include some basic claims important to this application.

#3 - US 8147791 - Graphene oxide reduction (Northrop Grumman Systems)

This patent includes basic claims to graphene production via the reduction of graphene oxide.

#2 - US 8323607 - High tensile strength CNT wire (Hon Hai Precision)

Carbon nanotubes have been measured to have the highest tensile strength of any material tested but in macroscopic and composite structures the collective tensile strength is greatly reduced. This patent includes some basic claims for carbon nanotube structures with a tensile strength which, while less than the highest measured value of individual nanotubes, is compatible with larger structures (i.e. wires, films) and is greater than that of steel.

#1 - US 8101149 - "Purified cage molecules consisting of carbon atoms" (Mitsubishi)

This could be the most important submarine patent relevant to nanotechnology. The priority goes back to 1990 and the patent may have a life extending to 2029 (assuming 17 years from issuance). The quote above recites in full the first claim indicating the importance of this patent to purified carbon nanomaterials.