BASF doesn't make the technology, but the investment makes it better.
A subsidiary of chemical manufacturer BASF Ludwigshafen has invested in NanoMas Technologies, a U.S. startup that develops inks containing silver nanoparticles used for electrical circuits in printed electronics, solar cells and special adhesives.
NanoMas, founded in 2006, raised $3.2 million in its first round of financing, with BASF Venture Capital contributing $1.5 million. Other investors include Earthrise Capital Partners and NanoMaterials Investors. The Vestal, N.Y.-based company will use the funds to expand its nanoparticle production capacity for manufacturers, invest further in research and development, and to support the marketing of its silver inks.
The process used for printing electronics on heat-sensitive materials, such as paper and plastics, forms the basis for developing printed radio frequency identification (RFID) labels, which augment barcodes used by retailers today. BASF believes that in the RFID manufacturing process, the NanoMas silver nanoparticles are ideal for processing to electronic conductors.
The cash infusion might raise eyebrows at struggling manufacturing companies, but I'm not surprised at the investment. While the tight economy has manufacturing laying off employees to cut costs and car manufacturers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler looking for a government bailout, it hasn't deterred the German BASF subsidiary from investing in a U.S. company.
Using various slices of the RF spectrum for sensing rather than communications has fascinating potential and some impressive implementations, but there are still many significant challenges, especially in the terahertz (sub-mm) band.
Using environmental energy to power remote sensor nodes remains a high interest item among system designers, especially those choosing wireless sensor node (WSN) components for remote and/or hazardous locations. At the Sensor Expo conference in Santa Clara, Calif., presenters at an energy harvesting and power symposium agreed that energy harvesting systems still require juggling many variables.