CNProbes, an emerging nanotech solutions provider, has executed an agreement with a leading MEMS Foundry (contract manufacturer). This agreement puts CNProbes closer to ramping up full-scale production and launch of CNProbes’ flagship product, a carbon nanotube probe tip for use in the atomic force microscope (AFM). These tips are a revolutionary imaging platform, allowing scientists and engineers in multiple fields from biotech to chip fabrication, to as CNProbes’ tagline proclaims, “See more and know more.”
The AFM is one of the most important analytical tools to current and future nanotechnology research. Scientists who create three-dimensional images and manipulate matter on a molecular scale use this microscope. The key component in the AFM is the tip (aka ‘probe’). The tip generates data that is collected and complied into a three dimensional image. The limiting factor in AFM resolution is the diameter of the tip, i.e., the smaller the diameter of the tip, the higher the resolving power of the microscope. CNProbes has developed technology improving the resolution of existing AFM tips through the use of single walled carbon nanotubes.
The key business challenge to the commercialization of carbon nanotube probe tips has been scalable production. CNProbes is the first manufacturer in the world to be able to scalably reproduce these tiny probes. CNProbes’ novel process provides a platform that is both flexible and scalable.
Brian Ruby, CNProbes’ 24-year-old Founder and CEO remarks, “Scalably reproducing anything with 1 nm or less dimensions is going to be an engineering challenge... we’re talking about producing thousands of devices simultaneously with dimensions only a few atoms wide (approximately one 10,000th the diameter of a human hair).”
Ruby further explains, “This is what our clients demand... every client wants an assurance of tip supply. Realistically, you can’t build a business in this industry with manual, labor-intensive manufacturing processes (the current state of the art) and expect to have much of a profit margin... which is what our investors demand.”
This MEMS foundry partnership provides CNProbes enough production capacity to meet all current demand for AFM tips as well as forecasted demand several years into the future. Ruby adds, “The foundry also provides levels of precision and tolerance we simply didn’t have in our previous production environment.”
Executives at CNProbes state that intellectual property provisions are in place, which are both equitable to both parties and very protective for CNProbes’ existing and future shareholders.