Corporate Nanomaterials Buyers Fail To Get What They Pay For

New Lux Research study finds confusion and controversy abound between

nanomaterials buyers and suppliers

Dec 08, 2004, 00:00 ET from Lux Research

    NEW YORK, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Corporate nanotechnology researchers
 frequently purchase nanomaterials -- nanoscale structures in pure form, like
 carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, and quantum dots -- which are the basic building
 blocks of nanotechnology. But these buyers frequently fail to get what they
 pay for, according to a new report from Lux Research entitled "Nanomaterials:
 Buyer Beware."
     "More than 200 companies worldwide sell nanomaterials today. As a group,
 they have a frighteningly poor track record, " said Matthew Nordan, Vice
 President of Research at Lux Research. "In our interviews with nanomaterials
 buyers, we've heard horror story after horror story from companies that
 haven't gotten the nanomaterials they expected from suppliers. Nanotubes,
 metal oxide nanoparticles, and fullerenes generate the most complaints while
 nanoporous materials and dendrimers generate the least."
     Among the experiences that Lux Research documents in its report:
     * An electronics company bought samples of carbon nanotubes from multiple
       vendors and found that up to 30% of what was shipped was actually
       leftover catalyst used to grow the nanotubes -- not the nanotubes
     * A specialty chemicals company purchased samples of carbon nanotubes and
       found that in at least one case, the sample provided by the vendor
       included no nanotubes at all -- just amorphous carbon soot.
     * One widely regarded nanomaterials supplier considered to be a pivotal
       player in its segment cannot actually supply product in commercial
       quantities, and secretly resells product from its own competitors when
       asked to do so.
     * One buyer of metal-oxide nanoparticles found many vendors eagerly
       claimed they could synthesize particles of the buyer's desired size
       dimension. But none could package or ship them in a way such that they
       didn't agglomerate into bigger particles, rendering them useless for
       the buyer's application.
     Lux Research projects that nanomaterials supply won't improve quickly.
 Many suppliers are part-time operations that lack robust quality control,
 suppliers' ever-changing production processes all but ensure that one batch of
 material differs from the next, and buyers and suppliers disagree over
 fundamental terminology. Standards from groups like the American National
 Standards Institute and the International Organization for Standardization
 could solve the problem, but they will require years of negotiation to
 develop. All told, it will take three years for competition to weed out
 ineffective suppliers and for agreed-upon standards to take shape, according
 to Lux Research.
     "In the interim, nanomaterials buyers and suppliers have no choice but to
 act defensively," Nordan said. "Buyers should use secret shopping to qualify
 suppliers, requesting price and availability for large quantities -- a
 kilogram for carbon nanotubes, for example -- to weed out suppliers that can't
 actually deliver. In addition, they should clearly describe to suppliers how
 they plan to use the material to eliminate ambiguity, and enlist a procurement
 specialist to finalize T's and C's. On the other side of the table, suppliers
 must obsessively document each shipment using tools like scanning electron
 microscopy images, as well as educate customers on how to use the nanomaterial
 without contaminating or destroying it," he added.
     The report is available immediately to clients of Lux Research's
 Nanotechnology Strategies advisory service. For information on how to become a
 client, contact Rob Burns, Vice President of Sales, at (646)723-0708.
     About Lux Research:
     Lux Research is the world's premier research and advisory firm focusing on
 the business and economic impact of nanotechnology and related emerging
 technologies. Lux Research provides continuous advisory services, customized
 consulting, and reference studies to corporations, start-ups, financial
 institutions, and public sector organizations. Our founders and our research
 staff are the most widely recognized nanotechnology visionaries throughout the
 world. Visit for more information.

SOURCE Lux Research