Current and Future Markets for Nanosensors
Published: February 24, 2014 Category: Advanced Materials Emerging Electronics

Nanosensors—devices capable of sensing nanoparticles—have made remarkable advances during their relatively short history, and NanoMarkets expects to see continued growth in a variety of applications.  

The primary forces governing the growth of nanosensors are: (1) the possibility of improved sensitivity and (2) the ability to sense multiple chemical compounds simultaneously. The most immediate opportunities are in the biomedical and healthcare industries. However, NanoMarkets also believes that longer term revenue generation will come from a much wider variety of uses for nanosensors. Several other sectors that are further behind in commercialization but which we believe will have great potential for future profitability include:

•    Security, surveillance and military 

•    Environmental monitoring 

•    Food management 

•    Transportation, construction and energy storage

•    Robotics and the Internet-of-Things

These sectors are not completely independent, since nanosensors developed for a particular purpose, such as detecting chemical contamination, may be used in many different types of applications. Growth in each sector will also influence the market as a whole, and drive the progression of research activities for components within an individual device or an entire system. 

NanoMarkets believes that in aggregate the opportunities for nanosensors are immense and need for small systems to double as analyzers and data storage entities will drive market growth. But participants in this market must remember that nanosensors are still a new technology, however, and, just as for sensors based on microtechnology, it will take some time for nanosensors to start earning significant revenues, 

Continuing progress in nanotechnology tools and increasing understanding of nanoscale phenomena, will be necessary to further enhance performance of existing nanosensors and allow researchers to develop nanosensors based on novel mechanisms. 

Nanosensors Begin: Healthcare and Biomedical Sector

NanoMarkets believes that the biggest initial market for nanosensors is in the field of healthcare and biomedicine, due to growing demand for faster, smaller portable diagnostic sensing systems that are also more accurate.  The capabilities of nanosensors fit very well into this.  One example is blood sensors that can detect multiple chemical compounds or pathogens:

•    Nanosensors can be used for point-of-care diagnostics that can be used at a doctor’s clinic or at home. The development of specialized analytical and medical diagnostic facilities across the globe is driving growth here.

•    Current trends also suggest that in the near future preliminary diagnosis or screening will be carried out using nanosensors and nano-enabled integrated systems in large populations. These systems have an edge over existing pathological or microbiological methods since they take less analysis time and are small enough to be easily transported to places that do not have access to medical facilities. They also have the ability to take the market by storm since they have better sensing efficiency than macro-sensors.

•    Meanwhile, research in the field of in-vitro nanosensors for diagnostics is progressing and there are a few products that are nearly ready for market testing. For example, researchers at Northeastern University have developed portable nanosensors for monitoring diabetes using an optical nanobiosensor. Vista Therapeutics has recently commercialized a nanowire-based biosensor (NanoBioSensor) that offers real-time monitoring of multiple cancer biomarkers in very low concentrations not achievable by macro-sensors. 

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