I read an excellent article from the October 3, 2008 edition of the N.Y. Times Magazine about the world of budding renewable energy companies and the role and function of venture capital companies in supporting them in their efforts to commercialize products. The article provided four basic questions, the answers of which determine largely whether a small start-up company survives; Can it be built? How hard is it to build it? And if you can build it, can other people build it just as well?…and…"Will anyone buy it?
On the question of whether other people can build it, that ability, in the nanotechnology world depends on whether standards exist that one can build it to. In the case of electrical and electronic products that function on the nanoscale, international standards for characterizing the electrical attributes of nanotube, rods, particles and other structures are key to providing the customer a uniform way of evaluating nanomaterials from mulitple suppliers as that material interacts in an end product. And standard methods for assessing reliability and consistency in the manufacturing process are essential to mass production.
It is through IEC TC 113 that these standards are developed, and it is the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 113 that creates a favorable business model for U.S. nano-electrotechnical firms in the international arena. But the TAG will only be successful if U.S. manufacturing and research organizations in the field get involved.