Year/Course: 2005-2006, Lent 2006
Mentor: Iain Simpson

Contacts: Dr. Finlay Morrison & Professor Jim Scott, Earth Sciences
Mentor: Iain Simpson, TEAM Consulting

Most nanotechnologies are viewed as “solutions in search of a problem”. However, the development of piezoelectric arrays of very small tube diameters has obvious application to systems in which high-speed delivery of very small (picolitre) droplets where monodisperse, uniform droplet size is a priority. At present the largest commercial application of piezoelectric fluid delivery systems is for fuel injectors in automobiles, where the leading producer is Bosch. The second largest commercial application is to ink-jet printers, and the third is for drug-delivery systems.

It is clear that the proposed ferroelectric / piezoelectric nanotube devices are a platform technology that can be applied to a wide range of products initially in the micro / nano / picofluidics area. Advance Nanotech Inc. (NASDAQ OTCBB: AVNA) is planning to invest in the further development of the technology, with the aim of spinning out and licensing the technology into difference market sectors.

An initial investigation of target markets was carried out by a team of Cambridge MBA students in Michaelmas Term 2005. This concluded that the most interesting, and technically viable, markets for the technology are drug delivery and misting applications. Although ink-jet printing is a huge market, there are a number of technical difficulties and market factors that make it less attractive as a primary target market.

The i-Team will work with the technical research team and Advanced Nanotech to investigate in detail the drug delivery and misting markets, to determine the most valuable market segments for the platform technology, and to investigate appropriate routes to market for the technology in those segments, including licensing and product manufacture. The results of this will influence the direction and focus of the research team as they move towards productisation of the technology.