SHENZHEN, China, Dec. 9, 2002 -- Chengyin Technology Co. Ltd. in Shenzhen, a port city in southern China, is rolling out high quality nanopowders for use in consumer products that are traditionally viewed as low-tech -- cosmetics, paints and even kitchen sinks.
Founded just three years ago, Chengyin has three product series already on the market, with two more slated for introduction. Companies in Japan, Germany and Taiwan are test-marketing prototypes that use Chengyin's technology.
The company's flagship product is a nanostructured compound of titanium dioxide and other oxides, with diameters of 10-50 nanometers. This inorganic compound is more stable and absorbent than its organic counterpart, and also provides better protection against harmful ultraviolet rays, according to the company.
Another product, also a powder, is an environmentally friendly photocatalyst with a diameter of 30-50 nanometers. The powder encourages energy-efficient decomposition of photocatalytic contaminants such as halohydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and phenols. When the nanopowder is added to ceramic household products, such as toilets, countertops and dishes that are constantly exposed to bacteria-carrying bodies, test results show powerful sterilization effects on colibacillus, golden yellow glucose bacterium, salmonellosis and more.
Technology consultant Shi Yili, a professor at Shanghai University, said there are a dozen companies providing similar products, but similar does not necessarily mean the same.
"It is almost impossible to compare nanomaterials right now because of the sheer number of them, plus the market is changing every day," said Wang Lueyun of the Shanghai Society for Advanced Materials (SSAM).
The greatest difficulty Chengyin faces, he said, "is information. Letting customers know what they have available." In the immature nanotechnology market, information costs are high, both domestically and internationally. SSAM is helping to address this problem by co-sponsoring the International Exhibition for Innovative Materials, to be held in Shanghai in March 2003. Chengyin will, of course, be one of the featured exhibitors, fresh from a successful showing this past November at the International Nanomaterials Exhibition.
Han Yujun, Chengyin's chief executive, knows that to establish a strong market presence, the advanced technology that goes into the company's products is almost beside the point. What differentiates Chengyin is customer service, she said. The company packages its nanomaterials as ordinarily as possible, selling them like any industrial ingredient, available for $50-65 per kilogram in bottles that include a user's manual.
Keeping at the cutting edge of technology, nonetheless, remains a top task. The company ensures it has the latest technology through ties with its brother company, Shanghai Shanghui Nanotech Ltd., a research firm that shares management and investors with Chengyin. The company also has a strong relationship with Shanghai University's Nanoscience and Technology Center, with its fresh crop of scientists.
Chengyin Technology Co. Ltd.
3rd floor, No. 5
Kefa Road Science & Tech Zone
Nanshan, Shenzhen, China
The company was founded in 1999 by Hong Kong Polytechnic University graduate Han Yujun. Han started Chengyin after meeting Shi Yili, a professor with Shanghai University's Nanomaterials Research Center.
Small tech-related products and services
Chengyin develops its nanomaterials using inorganic titanium dioxide compounds. Key products include:
Chengyin's anti-UV nanocomposite offers wide-spectrum protection against ultraviolet rays for applications ranging from paints to plastics to cosmetics. The photocatalyst powder provides energy-efficient contaminant decomposition for applications including environmental safety, photocatalysis, energy, self-cleaning paints and sterile material production.
Selected strategic partners and customers
Funding has come from Han, as well as an unnamed Chinese investor. Total investment in Chengyin is approximately $1.2 million.
Short range: To increase both domestic and overseas sales, carve out an established position in the domestic market and extend the reach of products. Long range: To become a renowned international nanotech supplier and raise consumer awareness of nanotech's potential.
Why they're in small tech
The Chinese have a saying, "Small things make a big difference," said CEO Han Yujun.
What keeps them up at night
"We sleep very soundly so that we can work harder in the daytime," said research director Shi Yili.
-- Research by Gretchen McNeely