Aixtron gets into nanotubes - interview
How does Aixtron view the acquisition in terms of the nanotechnology market?
The acquisition of Nanoinstruments can be best described as a strategic seed investment that gives Aixtron access, at a very early stage, to some excellent technology and expertise in a market area that has great potential going forward.
We do recognize that this is a formative stage. What is being suggested could be a very interesting future commercial market and one that has great synergies with Aixtron s core strengths in complex film deposition.
BCC Research estimates the CNT market for Electronics in 2007 at only $6 m; and has predicted that the total global CNT device market for electronics could be as large as $292 m by 2011, which is coincidently the same size as the high-brightness LED device market in 1997.
What does Aixtron see as the key applications for nanotechnology within its sector?
Aixtron has always pursued a very focused strategy geared towards delivering innovative Gas Phase Deposition solutions for customers seeking complex film structures. With Nanoinstruments, Aixtron is now serving the nanotechnology market through the manufacture of plasma enhanced CVD systems for CNTs and other nanomaterials. CNT is a promising material for many future optical and electronic devices and applications, and is currently being investigated by many research groups as a promising material to be used in flat-panel displays, heat sinks, integrated circuits, sensors or as electron guns.
What makes Nanoinstruments so desirable from an acquisitions point of view?
There is always a balance to be had between investing early with a relatively small outlay and investing later, but at a much higher cost. In our view, this is the correct time to make such an investment, particularly given the quality of the technology and the team involved. We already have a high-quality engineering and manufacturing team in Cambridge, UK, at Thomas Swan Scientific Equipment, so it will be very easy to integrate the Nanoinstruments business into those facilities with access to all of the technical resources that reside in Germany, Sweden and the US.
What are Aixtron s plans for Nanoinstruments now that the company is part of the Aixtron group?
The Nanoinstruments team has some very clear views on how the market will develop and our first objective will be to articulate those views into a more detailed product development roadmap, integrating the group resources and expertise now available. The vast majority of the development work will be done internally and through our suppliers, but in our experience it is the dialogue with the customers and how they see the technology developing that is the most crucial first step in defining how we take this opportunity forward. That is where we are focusing our attention just now.
For Nanoinstruments, the merger provides access to our significant technical and intellectual resources. This will be invaluable to its objective of becoming a major provider to nanotube research and development customers worldwide, and to its desire to develop production-scale solutions as the predicted commercial applications emerge. Needless to say, Aixtron s global service network presents the customer with a far more substantial and sustainable support network.
James Tyrrell is the editor of nanotechweb.org, a sister site of compoundsemiconductor.net.