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Japanese company moves to corner nanotechnology market

29-Mar-2005

Japan-based Frontier Carbon Corporation says it is commencing US production in a bid to muscle in on the growing demand for fullerene materials for, amongst other industries, the European and US cosmetics and personal care sector.

The company says that Frontier Carbon Corporation America will begin production this month in conjunction with TDA Research, a US corporation licensed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology to use combustion-based technology for the production of fullerenic products.

The approaching commercialization of nanotechnology is expected to open up huge potential for fullerene materials to be used in anti-ageing cosmetic products.

 

Fullerenes are large carbon molecules with unique properties that are particularly well suited to nanotechnology-based applications and have led to prototyping a large number of products. The material is said to be very stable and heat-resistant, joining diamonds and graphite as the third form of pure carbon, yet are the only form of carbon that is soluble, leading to easy processing and a variety of chemical modifications for usable nanotechnology materials.

 

Largely developed in Japan, by far the most common fullerene is C60, which are round, hollow molecular cages of carbon atoms about a billionth of an inch in diameter. Other relatively common fullerenes are C70, C76, and C84. The architectural structure of fullerene molecules resembles the domes created by architect and philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. Their discovery was recognized with the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

 

The new US corporation will market fullerene products under the brand name 'Nanom.' Frontier Carbon Corporation America will offer a range of products: Nanom Mix (mixed fullerenes, including C60 and C70); Nanom Purple (pure C60); Nanom Spectra (tailor-made, chemically functionalized fullerenes); and mixtures of fullerenic materials with unique properties.

 

The Frontier Carbon Corporation was established in Japan in December 2001 as a joint venture of the Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation with the goal of becoming the world leader in the commercial production of nano-scale carbon products.

 

Frontier Carbon Corporation began operating a 40 tons per year commercial-scale, low-cost plant producing fullerenes in 2003. FCC says that it started delivering Fullerene samples at prices 10 times lower than those prevailing in the market in February 2002.

 

To date more than 400 Japanese companies have purchased sample lots and are developing commercial products. Some products using fullerenic materials are already commercialized in Japan.

 

A wave of research and development activities all over the world has led to almost 2,000 application-oriented patents, spanning a broad range spectrum of potential commercial applications. In addition to cosmetics application, other uses have included anticancer drug delivery systems using photodynamic therapy, HIV drugs, superconductive materials and ultra-fine crystalline artificial diamonds for drilling and industrial polishing.