Production of Scanning Probe Microscopes Gets Boost from RUSNANO
The Supervisory Council of RUSNANO has approved the corporation’s participation in a project to widen production of measuring-analytical equipment for nanotechnology in material sciences, biology, and medicine. The project will bring existing production of scanning probe microscopes and atomic scales at Advanced Technologies Center, project initiator, to a new level of high-tech sophistication.
The total budget for the project is 387 million rubles. RUSNANO will invest 140 million rubles in the project company.
The primary product will be scanning probe microscopes—fine-line instruments used primarily for mechanical movement of a probe (cantilever) in studies of the surface of objects. Their levels of precision are around one nanometer. In addition, the project company will produce atomic scales capable of determining the presence of particles of various substances at the level of an individual atom. One promising direction for such scales is their application as delicate biosensors.
Scanning probe microscopes are in high demand from manufacturers of high-technology products and scientific research organizations that specialize in material sciences, biology, and medicine. As a rule, however, these expensive instruments are produced abroad; their closest domestic analog, the NANOEDUCATOR , is manufactured by company NT-MDT. The NANOEDUCATOR offers fewer working regimes. The project company intends to work toward gaining a significant niche in the market segment for moderately priced scanning probe microscopes where demand is currently not being met.
Project implementation will extend to organizing commercial production of FemtoScan scanning probe microscopes and atomic scales with maximum commonality of mechanical and electronic units. There are plans as well for a design center that will conduct studies to perfect technology, carry out engineering developments, and certify prototypes and models. The design center would supply the software, which facilitates work controlling the instrument and work processing the images that are obtained.
The project company expects to reach design capacity—300 analytic instruments with sales of 750 million rubles annually—in 2015. Russian high-tech companies are expected to purchase 53 percent of the systems in that year. The remainder of the products will be exported, particularly to India and countries in Southeastern Asia. Agreements for delivery to those countries have already been concluded, confirming the high scientific and engineering levels and the advanced technological qualities of the project’s products.
In 2009 worldwide sales of scanning probe microscopes in the lower price segment of the market, according to analysts at RUSNANO, were 99 million dollars, sales of atomic scales were 1.2 million dollars, and sales of associated consumable products were 60 million dollars. Experts forecast that in 2015 sales of these products in this segment will grow to 271 million dollars, 3 million dollars, and 166 million dollars, respectively.
Advanced Technologies Center is a Russian business working in the nanotechnology field. Established in 1990, the company specializes in production of FemtoScan scanning probe microscopes, atomic scales, and accessories. Software development of is an important aspect of ATC’s work. The company is the first to offer comprehensive software for control of a scanning probe microscope via the Internet.