Using Nanotechnology to Clean Water: A Conversation with Pedro Alvarez of Rice University (NEWT – Nano Enabled Water Treatment)


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In this special anniversary episode of Stories from the NNI, Dr. Lisa Friedersdorf, Director of NNCO, talks to Prof. Pedro Alvarez, of Rice University. Pedro and Lisa discuss the role nanotechnology plays in water security, exciting research results and applications, and his thoughts on the NNI.

 

 

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Read More: How Can Graphene Be Used in Desalination?

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In Silicon Valley Frenzy, VCs Create New Inside Track


Wall ST J BN-HS055_CLUB04_M_20150402101507Pinterest board observer raised $200 million in three days to buy more shares—with startup’s blessing

Silicon Valley insiders are taking advantage of soaring values for technology startups by creating a potentially lucrative side business.

Venture-capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz and FirstMark Capital, along with a cast of prominent entrepreneurs and executives, have each raised tens of millions of dollars for impromptu funds that take a direct stake in a single startup.

These funds, which often come together in a matter of days, give institutional investors, friends and business associates exclusive access to highflying companies. The funds also let the venture capitalists invest far more money in a company than they otherwise could. In many cases, the funds are blessed by the startups, which see them as a way to raise big sums quickly.

While the investments are usually billed as exclusive, can’t-miss opportunities, the funds aren’t without risk. Their investors—which include fund of funds, family offices and pension funds—are usually offered limited financial information about the companies. They are also charged a performance fee that is typically about 20% of any investment profits on top of already rich prices.

When image-bookmarking site Pinterest Inc. set out to raise more than $500 million in February, one of its earliest investors, FirstMark Capital, wanted to take part in the round.

But the venture firm couldn’t invest a big enough sum from its $225 million fund to keep pace with Pinterest’s steep proposed valuation of $11 billion, more than double the price from May. Venture firms typically spread out their bets and avoid allocating too much capital in one company.

So Rick Heitzmann, FirstMark’s managing director and a Pinterest board observer, struck a deal with the San Francisco company to create a special fund that would pool capital from other investors and take a direct stake.

In just three days, Mr. Heitzmann rounded up $200 million from seven of FirstMark’s investors and included a small of amount of capital from its main fund, according to a person familiar with the deal.

He sweetened the deal by waiving fees typically charged to manage a fund, usually about 2%. FirstMark will get the same “carry,” or a cut of the investment profits, as its main fund should Pinterest hold an initial public offering or get acquired at a price higher than $11 billion.

In the eyes of some investors, the wager is easy money: Pinterest has the potential to follow a similar trajectory as Facebook Inc., FB -0.12 % which became a social destination for hundreds of millions of people and a top place for advertisers. But Pinterest is no surefire bet as it only officially began selling advertising on its site in January.

A Pinterest spokesman declined to comment.

ENLARGE

The deal illustrates how startup investors are increasingly using an emerging funding structure that helps them defend their most promising bets. They are employing a type of fund called a special purpose vehicle, or SPV. Unlike venture funds that invest in dozens of startups over several years, an SPV represents a bet on a single company at a specific point in time.

These funds let investors write bigger checks to compete with the billions of dollars pouring into later-stage startups from mutual funds, hedge funds and banks. Venture firms are finding they don’t always have enough funds reserved to retain percentage stakes in startups as valuations rise quickly.

In the past 12 months, at least 70 private companies world-wide raised capital at a valuation of $1 billion or more, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Many companies, including Pinterest, have been valued at more than double their previous valuation in that time span.

Further down the chain, a small but prominent group of entrepreneurs and executives are capitalizing on their access to fast-growing startups by raising SPVs for companies such as grocery delivery service Instacart Inc. and bitcoin processor Coinbase Inc., people familiar with the matter said.

Elad Gil, a former executive at Twitter TWTR -1.13 % and Google, GOOGL -0.27 % raised tens of millions of dollars from current or former employees of Google, Facebook and Twitter for Instacart’s $220 million January round that valued the company at $2 billion, said a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Gil couldn’t be reached for comment.

A spokesman for Coinbase confirmed the presence of an SPV in its January round, saying it represented less than 3% of the total $75 million investment. Instacart didn’t respond to a request for comment.

With the connections already in place, these deals happen quickly and further narrow the exclusive club that gets access to prime startups. But these funds pose financial risks. A venture capitalist gets a detailed look into a startup’s revenue, costs and financial projections before they make a decision to invest. Buyers of SPVs are usually only offered a high-level view into the potential performance, not detailed financial metrics, according to both investors who have arranged these funds and firms and individuals who have considered investing in them.

“There are going to be some bad outcomes,” said Brad Garlinghouse, a former executive at Yahoo Inc. YHOO -1.10 % and AOL Inc., AOL -0.08 % who has invested in some SPVs and passed on others. “When you’re the last money in coming at the top, you’re going to be disappointed with the financial returns.”

There are going to be some bad outcomes. When you’re the last money in coming at the top, you’re going to be disappointed with the financial returns.

—Brad Garlinghouse, former Yahoo and AOL executive

As more startups go this funding route, some investors question whether the companies are losing out on a chance to bring aboard more strategically valuable investors.

“Entrepreneurs should focus on investors that deliver value to them,” said Jeff Clavier, managing partner of venture firm SoftTech VC. “When you crowd out experience just to get an SPV going, then that’s a problem.”

SPVs gained popularity around Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. as those companies headed toward mega-IPOs. Chris Sacca, a former Google Inc. executive, helped popularize this trend when he bought up hundreds of millions of dollars in private shares of Twitter from executives and early investors over several years preceding the company’s 2013 public offering. Those shares, bought on behalf of J.P. Morgan JPM -0.02 % and investment firm Rizvi Traverse Management, would be valued at about $4.2 billion at today’s Twitter stock price.

Investment banks have also given their wealthiest clients special access to hot deals, such as Goldman Sachs GS -0.15 % ’ creation of an SPV in 2011 to market shares of Facebook to its clients at a $50 billion valuation, a year before the social network went public at about $100 billion.

Rick Heitzmann, a venture capitalist and Pinterest board observer, raised $200 million in just three days from investors to buy more Pinterest shares.
Rick Heitzmann, a venture capitalist and Pinterest board observer, raised $200 million in just three days from investors to buy more Pinterest shares. Photo: VICTOR J. BLUE/BLOOMBERG NEWS

But many of the earlier SPVs bought shares from employees or early investors. Startups such as Uber Technologies Inc. have attempted to prevent the trading of so-called secondary shares, and regulators have tried to crack down on a market of middlemen trying to buy such stock and reap big fees.

The newer breed of SPVs involves primary shares issued by the companies, which are giving express permission to invest.

Since its site launched in 2010, Pinterest has raised more than $1 billion, much of that through SPVs. Besides FirstMark, another earlier Pinterest backer, Andreessen Horowitz, recently arranged its own special fund, people familiar with the matter said.

The firm shopped the fund to its limited partners and “friends and family,” said one of these people, and waved its management fee and charged a 15% carry, smaller than what it normally takes from its main funds. A regulatory filing from Andreessen Horowitz for a fund called PinAH LP disclosed it raised $37 million in mid-March.

A spokeswoman for Andreessen Horowitz declined to comment on the funding round.

Last year, SV Angel, the seed-stage fund headed by San Francisco financier Ron Conway, led a $200 million round in Pinterest at a $5 billion valuation.

Other companies have turned to SPVs for large sums of capital in recent months.

Data analytics provider Palantir Technologies Inc., which was valued at $15 billion last September, turned to an SPV arranged by Founders Fund, a San Francisco firm headed by billionaire investors Peter Thiel, according to people familiar with the deal. In March, ride-sharing service Lyft Inc. included an SPV of more than $10 million from GSV Capital for its $530 million round that valued it at $2.5 billion, a person familiar with the matter said.

By Douglas MacMillan

The Wall Street Journal

—Evelyn M. Rusli, Telis Demos and Yoree Koh contributed to this article.

How Nanotechnology Is Gaining Momentum In Manufacturing


3D Printing dots-2“According to an article in ASME.org, nanotechnology “will leave virtually no aspect of life untouched and is expected to be in widespread use by 2020.” In addition, a policy paper by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) describes nanotechnology as modern history’s “sixth revolutionary technology,” following the industrial revolution in the mid-1700s, nuclear energy revolution in the 1940s, green revolution in the 1960s, information technology revolution in the 1980s, and biotechnology revolution in the 1990s.”

Genesis Nanotechnology –  “Nanotechnology will change the way we innovate … everything. It will touch almost every aspect in our everyday lives from Nano-Medicine and Consumer Electronics to Energy Solutions and Advanced Fabrics.” http://www.genesisnanotech.com – “Great Things from Small Things”

 

*** This article (From Forbes) originally appeared on PTC Product Lifecycle Stories

nanotechHow Nanotechnology Is Gaining Momentum In Manufacturing

It is hard to imagine the size of a nanometer. At one-billionth of a meter, a nanometer has been compared to 1/80,000th the diameter of a human hair, a million times smaller than the length of an ant, or the amount a man’s beard grows in the time it takes him to lift a razor to his face.saltwater

Yet, nanotechnology—the ability to control matter at the Nano-scale (approximately 1 to 100 nanometers)—is having a huge impact on science, engineering, and technology because matter behaves differently at that size.

The impact of nanotechnology on society has been compared to the invention of electricity or plastic—it is transformative to nearly everything we use today. Uses of nanotechnology range from applications for stronger golf clubs and stain-resistant pants to future visions of transforming manufacturing and treating cancer.

What’s so special about nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology and nanoscience involve the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules. At nanoscale, matter has unique physical, chemical, and biological properties that enable new applications. Some nanostructured materials are stronger or have different magnetic properties; some are better at conducting heat or electricity, or may become more chemically reactive, reflect light better, or change color as their size or structure is altered.

According to an article in ASME.org, nanotechnology “will leave virtually no aspect of life untouched and is expected to be in widespread use by 2020.” In addition, a policy paper by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) describes nanotechnology as modern history’s “sixth revolutionary technology,” following the industrial revolution in the mid-1700s, nuclear energy revolution in the 1940s, green revolution in the 1960s, information technology revolution in the 1980s, and biotechnology revolution in the 1990s.

NY Invests 628x471

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (AP) — New York state is teaming with General Electric Co. and other companies on a $500 million initiative to spur high-tech manufacturing of miniature electronics, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt announced Tuesday.

The U.S. federal government is backing nanotech, and the 2015 Federal Budget provides more than $1.5 billion for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a continued investment which supports the President’s technology innovation strategy.

Preparing for opportunity

Engineers with expertise in nanotechnology are becoming increasingly valuable, and universities are starting to offer programs focused on nanotech for engineering students.

U of Toronto Lab on a Chip 2014-07-21-dropbot-techBoston University, Rice University, Florida Polytechnic University, and Villanova are just some of the schools that have programs focused on nanotech, which promises to be a growing field. A listing of Nanotechnology Degree Programs shows the various bachelors, masters, and doctorate programs available in countries around the world which will prepare engineers for future jobs in nanotechnology.  According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, more than 150,000 people in the U.S. held jobs in nanotechnology in 2008, and by 2015 that number is expected to grow to 800,000.

As nanotechnology gains momentum and starts to touch many facets of our lives, countries around the globe are investing in this technology which has relatively low barriers to entry. Steep Growth graph 011514The promise of nanotechnology is being realized by the many companies who want to be gain a share of the market for nanotech-based products, which Global Industry Analysts estimates will be $3.3 trillion by 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

NANOTECHNOLOGY – Energys Holy Grail Artificial Photosynthesis


 

 

 

What is Nanotechnology?
A basic definition: Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced.
In its original sense, ‘nanotechnology’ refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.

Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to “nanotech”) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology. A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers.

This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale, and so the definition shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter that occur below the given size threshold. It is therefore common to see the plural form “nanotechnologies” as well as “nanoscale technologies” to refer to the broad range of research and applications whose common trait is size. Because of the variety of potential applications (including industrial and military), governments have invested billions of dollars in nanotechnology research. Through its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the USA has invested 3.7 billion dollars. The European Union has invested 1.2 billion and Japan 750 million dollars

NANOTECHNOLOGY – Photons to Electricity Nano Based Solar Cells


longpredicte“Dr. Sargent provides us with a very detailed presentation on integrating ‘nanotechnology’ and photovoltaics. It is well recognized the ‘solar energy model’ will require advancements to lower manufacturing (production) costs and …

… “harvest” with greater efficiencies the available (and abundant) renewable source of energy from our sun.”  –  GenesisNanoTechnology

 

 

Published on Jul  9, 2013 

What is Nanotechnology? A basic definition: Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced. In its original sense, ‘nanotechnology’ refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.

Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to “nanotech”) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology.

 

A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers.

This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale, and so the definition shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter that occur below the given size threshold.

 

It is therefore common to see the plural form “nanotechnologies” as well as “nanoscale technologies” to refer to the broad range of research and applications whose common trait is size. Because of the variety of potential applications (including industrial and military), governments have invested billions of dollars in nanotechnology research. Through its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the USA has invested 3.7 billion dollars. The European Union has invested 1.2 billion and Japan 750 million dollars

 

Quantum Materials Corp


QUANTUM MATERIALS CORPORATION has a steadfast vision that advanced technology is the solution to global issues related to cost, efficiency and increasing energy usage. Quantum dot semiconductors enable a new level of performance in a wide array of established consumer and industrial products, including low cost flexible solar cells, low power lighting and displays and biomedical research applications. Quantum Materials Corporation will invigorate these markets through cost reduction by replacing lab based experiments with volume manufacturing methods to establish a growing line of innovative high performance products.

*** Note to Readers. We at Trinity Alliance, LLP and GenesisNanoTech, have been following this company for over 3 years now. We are pleased to share their vision with all of you at this time. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact this author at:

bruceh.genesisnanotachnology@gmail.com       ***

Quantum Materials Corporation is a development stage nanotechnology and advanced materials company. We perceive an opportunity to acquire a significant amount of the nanomaterials market by commercializing a low cost high volume tetrapod quantum dot production process based on our exclusive license agreement with William Marsh Rice University and on additional proprietary processes and specialized knowledge that has been developed by the company and through our agreement with Access2Flow, a Netherlands based consortium focused on continuous flow chemistry. Our objective is to commercialize our high volume nanomaterials production processes and to use these materials to enable advanced and disruptive technologies that depend on a ready source of low cost materials in order for these technologies to become commercially viable.

SOLTERRA RENEWABLE TECHNOLOGIES, INC., a wholly owned subsidiary of QMC, is singularly positioned to lead the development of truly sustainable and cost-effective solar technology by introducing a new dimension of cost reduction by replacing silicon wafer-based solar cells with low-cost, highly efficient 3rd Generation, Quantum Dot-based solar cells.

Updates

SEC 10-K for year ending June 2012.  Here is the link: http://t.co/VhbnIEWz

Invited speaker at IdTechEx Printed Electronics USA 2012 . Our topic is “Quantum Dots: The Future is Now” The date is Dec. 5th at the Santa Clara Convention Center. If you will be attending either the conference or just the Trade Show, please let me know. Mr. Squires will be available for business related meetings.

Invited Speaker at the Emerging Molecular Diagnostics Partnering Forum on Feb 11-12 just prior to Molecular Medicine Tri-Conference Feb 12-13 (Moscone, SF) where we will for the first time be an Exhibitor. This is a tremendous opportunity because our quantum dots can fulfill so many needs in pharma and biomedicine. Mr. Squires topic is “Flow Chemistry Process Biocompatible Inorganic High Quantum Yield Tetrapod Quantum Dots For The Next Generation of Diagnostic Assays, Multiplexed Drug Delivery Platforms and POC Devices” Mr. Squires will again be available for business-related meetings.

QMC is in early stage discussions with a worldwide manufacturer/distributor/retailer of consumer goods concerning participation in the development of quantum dot consumer products that could result in two or more possible product collaborations for retail mass production and distribution. This would provide QMC and Solterra with an experienced partner in design, production, marketing and sale outlets for new consumer products. Further research and discussions are needed and industrial and commercial applications of these products could be developed independently of any alliance.

QMC has a NDA and is in discussions with a large molecular biology company currently successfully marketing recombinant proteins to researchers to functionalize QMC TQD to their own recombinant proteins, antibodies, aptamers, and peptides as value added product to sell to researchers in the life sciences. QMC is actively pursuing this same biotech market for other companies amenable to non-exclusive licensing of our quantum dots for research purposes or joint venture for development of advanced diagnostic tools delivering instant results at low cost or the use of our TQD as a drug delivery platform.

We are a public company traded OTC as QTMM

Specialties

Quantum Dots, R2R, Nanotechnology, Solar, Biomedical, Nanobio

Website: http://www.qmcdots.com

http://www.linkedin.com/company/1792886?trk=NUS_CMPY_TWIT

 

Graphene Replaces Traditional Silicon Substrates in Future Devices


Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have patented and are commercializing a method by which gallium arsenide (GaAs) nanowires are grown on graphene.

The method, which was described and published in the journal Nano Letters (“Vertically Aligned GaAs Nanowires on Graphite and Few-Layer Graphene: Generic Model and Epitaxial Growth”), employs Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) to grow the GaAs nanowires layer by layer. A video describing the process can be seen below.

 

“We do not see this as a new product,” says Professor Helge Weman, a professor at NTNU’s Department of Electronics and Telecommunications in the press release. “This is a template for a new production method for semiconductor devices. We expect solar cells and light emitting diodes to be first in line when future applications are planned.”

Whether it is a method or a product, Weman and his colleagues have launched a new company called Crayonano that will be commercializing the hybrid material that the researchers developed.

The researchers contend that replacing traditional semiconductor materials as a substrate will reduce material costs. The silicon materials are fairly expensive and are usually over 500µm thick for 100mm wafers. As the video explains, using graphene reduces the substrate thickness to the width of one atom. Obviously reduction in material is really only a side benefit to the use of graphene. The real advantage is that the electrode is transparent and flexible, thus its targeting for solar cells and LEDs.

Interestingly Weman sees his team’s work as a compliment to the work of companies like IBM that have used graphene “to make integrated circuits on 200-mm wafers coated with a continuous layer of the atom-thick material.”

Weman notes: “Companies like IBM and Samsung are driving this development in the search for a replacement for silicon in electronics as well as for new applications, such as flexible touch screens for mobile phones. Well, they need not wait any more. Our invention fits perfectly with the production machinery they already have. We make it easy for them to upgrade consumer electronics to a level where design has no limits.”

As magnanimous as Weman’s invitation sounds, one can’t help but think it comes from concern. The prospect of a five-year-development period before a product gets to market might be somewhat worrying for a group of scientists who just launched a new startup. A nice licensing agreement from one of the big electronics companies must look appealing right about now.

 

Nanoco Group PLC: A world leading developer and manufacturer of quantum dots


Nanoco Technologies - Bulk Quantum Dots Manufacturer

 

 

 

 

Nanoco Group PLC and its operating subsidiary Nanoco Technologies Ltd partner major R&D and blue-chip industrial organisations in the development of applications incorporating semiconductor nanoparticles, “quantum dots”.

Nanoco Technologies is unique in the nanomaterials market as a company that manufacture large quantities of quantum dots. Our molecular seeding process for the bespoke manufacture of these nanoparticles on a commercial scale is protected by worldwide patents.

Nanoco Technologies is the only manufacturer currently able to supply production quantities of these nanoparticles which do not use a regulated heavy metal. We are the only manufacturer able to respond to orders for large quantities of bespoke quantum dots, and we are leading the way in customising the functionalisation of quantum dots enabling chemical linkage for biological and other specific uses.

The bulk manufacture of quantum dots provides our partners with the platform to develop a wide variety of next-generation products, particularly in application areas such as display technology, lighting, solar cells and biological imaging.

Nanoco Technologies’ research and manufacturing headquarters was established in Manchester (UK) in 2001. The company currently operates facilities in the UK and Japan.

About this Site
This is the corporate website of Nanoco Technologies Ltd. Please make use of the navigation provided to find out more about our products and their applications. This site also contains useful information for prospective partner organisations, employees and investors, as well as visitors with an academic interest in our research, and general readers who would like to find out more about the fascinating subject of quantum dots.

Nanoco Signs Joint Agreement with Asian Company

14/02/2012 Manchester

Nanoco Group plc (AIM: NANO), a world leader in the development and manufacture of cadmium-free quantum dots and other nanomaterials, announces that it has signed a commercial joint development agreement (JDA) with a major electronics company in Asia in connection with the use of the Company’s cadmium-free quantum dots (CFQD™) in the electronics company’s display products.

It is anticipated that further agreements with the electronics company will be signed on the successful completion of the initial development work.

Michael Edelman, Nanoco’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’re delighted to have signed this joint development agreement with a major electronics company in Asia. This agreement further extends our involvement in the display market and increases the number of countries in which we have commercial relationships.”

Website: http://www.nanocotechnologies.com/

Follow on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/nanocotech

 

Chinese firm positioned to acquire U.S.-funded battery maker A123 Systems


A123 President and CEO David Vieau, left, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., Energy Secretary Steven Chu and A123 Vice President Jason Forcier, right, tour the Romulus plant.

A123 President and CEO David Vieau, left, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., Energy Secretary Steven Chu and A123 Vice President Jason Forcier, right, tour the Romulus plant. / July 2011 photo by Carlos Osorio/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The future of A123 Systems, which received a $249.1-million grant in 2009 from the Obama administration and more than $125 million in State of Michigan tax credits and aid, is now up to a Chinese auto supplier.

Wanxiang Group agreed in August to invest up to $450 million to acquire as much as 80% of the Waltham, Mass.-based battery maker.

But shares in the company, which employs about 700 people in Romulus, Livonia and Ann Arbor, are now trading for 27 cents, down from a 52-week high of $4.44 about a year ago. It has lost $857 million since its inception, and $208 million of that in the first half of this year. Clean-tech companies backed by the U.S. government have been a target of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who accuses President Barack Obama of “picking winners and losers” with grants and loans like those to A123.

Now, the Wanxiang investment has made the administration’s support of A123 even more sensitive.

The deal gave A123 much-needed cash to continue operating, but experts said the future of the company’s manufacturing operations in Michigan is in doubt.

“The issue of having the Chinese come in after the U.S. has supported the company with loans is a challenge for them,” University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute analyst Bruce Belzowski said. “Do they end up moving the plant to China? As owners they would have that right to do that.”

Critics have suggested that Wanxiang identified an opportunity to pounce on a company with valuable intellectual property at a cheap price. Pin Ni, president of Elgin, Ill.-based Wanxiang America, referred questions to A123, which declined to comment for this report.

A123 CEO David Vieau told investors in August that the deal would “remove the uncertainty regarding A123’s financial situation” and allow the company to “leverage Wanxiang’s global supply chain and automotive manufacturing efficiencies to reduce our costs.”

Wanxiang, owned by Chinese billionaire Guanqiu Lu, told the Securities and Exchange Commission that its investment would help A123 gain “access to the vehicle electrification and grid-scale energy storage markets in China.”

Pike Research analyst John Gartner said that for A123 to expand sales in China, it would make sense to manufacture batteries there.

“Because of the weight of the batteries, it’s much more cost effective to manufacture where they’re going to be used in the vehicles,” Gartner said.

A123’s stock closed Friday at 27 cents, down 98% from its September 2009 initial public offering price of $13.50. Several executives have sold thousands of shares in recent weeks, according to SEC filings.

“It’s not clear what the Chinese are going to get out of this,” said Theodore O’Neill, founder of Connecticut-based Litchfield Hills Research and a former securities analyst who tracked A123. “There isn’t any value here. There really isn’t enough need for the product, and the product isn’t profitable.”

Battery companies have struggled to achieve breakthroughs and lower costs, which is necessary to make electric vehicles more affordable. Most consumers are still buying conventional vehicles that run on gasoline or first-generation gasoline-electric hybrids that don’t require recharging.

Gartner said lithium-ion battery packs cost about $700 per kilowatt hour, but that needs to come down to about $350 to become competitive with internal combustion engines.

“It’s really going to take the next generation of battery technology to get there,” he said.

Costly errors

A123 is spending more than $66 million to complete a recall of battery packs it supplied to Fisker Automotive. At issue is a faulty welding machine at its Livonia plant.

After the discovery, A123 hired materials handler MPS Group to conduct the Fisker battery-pack recall, according to company documents obtained by the Free Press.The recall is not expected to be finished until mid-2013, and Fisker, which represented 26% of A123’s revenue in 2011, may switch battery suppliers, Fisker CEO Tony Posawatz said Monday in Detroit.

Others are sticking by A123. General Motors, which selected A123 as the supplier for the forthcoming electric version of the Chevrolet Spark minicar, said it has no plans to switch suppliers.

But A123 has warned the SEC that there is “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue operating as an independent company.

A bankruptcy filing or Wanxiang taking control of A123 would stir further questions about the government’s role in funding private enterprise, especially if it expanded production in China.

“The venture capital community has been burned just as badly as the taxpayer,” O’Neill said. “This is a segment of industry that nobody’s making any money in.”

Contact Nathan Bomey: 313-223-4743

Solar Cell Consisting of a Single Molecule: Individual Protein Complex Generates Electric Current


ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2012) — An team of scientists, led by Joachim Reichert, Johannes Barth, and Alexander Holleitner (Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Clusters of Excellence MAP and NIM), and Itai Carmeli (Tel Aviv University) developed a method to measure photocurrents of a single functionalized photosynthetic protein system. The scientists could demonstrate that such a system can be integrated and selectively addressed in artificial photovoltaic device architectures while retaining their biomolecular functional properties.


The proteins represent light-driven, highly efficient single-molecule electron pumps that can act as current generators in nanoscale electric circuits.
 Photosystem-I (green) is optically excited by an electrode (on top). An electron then is transferred step by step in only 16 nanoseconds. (Credit: Christoph Hohmann (NIM))

The interdisciplinary team publishes the results in Nature Nanotechnologythis week.

The scientist investigated the photosystem-I reaction center which is a chlorophyll protein complex located in membranes of chloroplasts from cyanobacteria. Plants, algae and bacteria use photosynthesis to convert solar energy into chemical energy. The initial stages of this process — where light is absorbed and energy and electrons are transferred — are mediated by photosynthetic proteins composed of chlorophyll and carotenoid complexes. Until now, none of the available methods were sensitive enough to measure photocurrents generated by a single protein. Photosystem-I exhibits outstanding optoelectronic properties found only in photosynthetic systems. The nanoscale dimension further makes the photosystem-I a promising unit for applications in molecular optoelectronics.

The first challenge the physicists had to master was the development of a method to electrically contact single molecules in strong optical fields. The central element of the realized nanodevice are photosynthetic proteins self-assembled and covalently bound to a gold electrode via cysteine mutation groups. The photocurrent was measured by means of a gold-covered glass tip employed in a scanning near-field optical microscopy set-up. The photosynthetic proteins are optically excited by a photon flux guided through the tetrahedral tip that at the same time provides the electrical contact. With this technique, the physicists were able to monitor the photocurrent generated in single protein units.

The research was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) via the SPP 1243 (grants HO 3324/2 and RE 2592/2), the Clusters of Excellence Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics and Nanosystems Initiative Munich, as well as ERC Advanced Grant MolArt (no. 47299).