Path Home Shows 2008 Show Archive December 2008 Show 0852 Nanotechnology


SouthWest NanoTechnologies is on the verge of making Oklahoma the leader in nano technologies.

Nanotechnology Scientist

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SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc.

Show Dates

Show 0852: Nanotechnology

Air date: December 28, 2009



Keith:  If you’re like me, you’re a newcomer to nanotechnology.  Think of something a thousand times smaller than a human hair, and you’re getting close.  Scientists believe by working at the smallest levels, they can make dramatic advancements in everything from fighting disease to improving our environment.  Some of this work is taking place right here in Oklahoma.  Brian Bendele has more on what’s happening in the heartland.

Sasha Down:  If there is a gram of nanotubes that means there’s a billion nanotubes.

Brian:  And they all fit into these little bottles.  Sasha Down is a development engineer at SouthWest NanoTechnology in Norman, Oklahoma, and says the complicated process all starts with a grain of sand and carbon monoxide gases.

Down:  The sand particles are where they’re actually grown.  So the carbon comes from the gas, attaches to the sand particle, and the nanotube grows as more and more carbon atoms are attached to the sand.

Brian:  Thus creating carbon nanotubes, a structure that is changing the way we create a number of products from coatings to plastics. CEO, David Arthur.

David Arthur:  The carbon nanotubes are also the strongest, stiffest, materials known to mankind.  So if you want to make a plastic material really strong, and stiff, and tough, put cabon nanotubes in them.  If you want to make a plastic material, which usually doesn’t conduct electricity, conduct electricity, put carbon nanotubes in them.

Brian:  The company was founded in 2001, and thanks to a process designed at Oklahoma University, SouthWest NanoTechnology now has the ability to create a variety of carbon nanotubes, from one process, that can easily be changed to fit the customer’s needs.

Arthur:  One thing that sets us apart is that we tailor the carbon nanotubes for the application, because as you point out, not one tube structure will be best for all applications.  So we control the tube structure, and then we put it in a product form, a physical form, that’s easy to use.

Brian:  Making quality the utmost importance, especially since this technology can be used in medicine.

Arthur:  It’s naturally compatible with the body; the body will not attack the carbon nanotubes.

Brian:  Creating endless possibilities for the future of medicine.

Arthur:  If you can get the nanotube to attach, by functionalizing it like you say, you could simply just shine light on it, and the only thing that will absorb that light; blood and tissue will be transparent to that wavelength of light; but the nanotube will absorb it and heat up the cell it’s attached to it and kill it.  So that’s a much more humane way of treating cancer.

Brian:  So while Southwest is growing its technology from the pilot stage, more and more nano products are appearing in the marketplace, Jim Mason with the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Initiative.

Jim Mason:  Oklahoma is a state that is focusing on applications of nanotechnology, so that existing companies can take whatever product they make, and improve it with a nanotech process.  And that can be anything from, if you manufactured something, like this tennis racket, we can make it lighter, stronger, better; or it could be something like this car wax which is used to fill in nano particles on a car, makes a very nice shine on a car wax.

Brian:  So companies like SouthWest NanoTechnology that create the nanotubes become essential to bringing in more business to the state.

Mason:  We think, in Oklahoma, that we can help Oklahoma companies do this, now, and be world leaders.  It gives them a competitive advantage.  If my product is lighter, cheaper, faster, stronger, then perhaps it will be the first to market and therefore the winners.