|Dr. Jeannette Benavides developed Nanotailor's process (Photo: NASA GSFC Innovative Partnerships Program Office)|
According to NASA, SWCNT production has been cost-prohibitive until now. "The nanotech industry is growing by more than 40% a year, but multi-walled carbon nanotubes have been the primary technology used. Single-walled technology just hasn't taken off because of the cost," notes Nanotailor president Ramon Perales. "If we can get the cost down, we can be a step ahead and make higher quality nanotechnology more affordable."
NASA Goddard says its SWCNT manufacturing process is "simpler, safer, and much less costly" than other methods. Developed by retired GSFC researcher Dr. Jeannette Benavides, "the key to the innovation is the ability to produce bundles of SWCNTs without using a metal catalyst, dramatically reducing pre- and post-production costs while generating higher yields of better quality product."
Nanotailor has built and tested a prototype and plans to go to market by the end of 2007. The company expects device integrators and nanotechnology-based device companies to be among its first customers, though Nanotailor hopes to cater to a wide variety of industries and research organizations. "All industries currently using multi-walled tubes will be able to benefit from this technology," notes Nanotailor chief technology officer Reginald Parker. "We're lowering the cost per gram while greatly improving the integrity of the nanotubes."
Other start-up companies that have licensed the NASA process include Idaho Space Materials in Boise and E-City NanoTechnologies in the Baltimore, Maryland area.