Degussa Advanced Nanomaterials, the internal start-up, will now produce and market the nanomaterials developed by the project house, thereby opening up new business segments in attractive markets. The first products Degussa Advanced Nanomaterials will bring on the market in the near term are nanoscale zinc oxide (AdNanoTM zinc oxide), cerium oxide (AdNanoTM Ceria) and indium tin oxide (AdNanoTM ITO). The products will be used primarily in the cosmetics, electronics, optics and paint industries.
Together with the Aerosil & Silanes Business Unit, Degussa Advanced Nanomaterials plans to use its AdNanoTM Ceria to expand the market segment for the ultra-precise surface treatment of wafers further-a key enabling technology when it comes to making computer chips even more efficient. New polishing agents are needed to achieve even finer structures to construct the features of the chips, which is why the use of polishing suspensions with ceroxide is such a high development priority among microchip manufacturers. Degussa is now addressing this market need with AdNanoTM Ceria, which can polish the insulating layers and circuit paths in a microchip nearly "atomically smooth." The agent is particularly well suited for polishing copper, which is used as circuit path material in the latest generation of chips. Degussa Advanced Nanomaterials cooperated closely with the Aerosil & Silanes CMP team, which provides technical and marketing guidance towards the commercialization of this product.
Degussa plans to concentrate first on marketing AdNanoTM zinc oxide as a UV filter in cosmetic products and coatings. Zinc oxide acts as a physical light protection in sunscreens. For example, the nanoparticles cover the skin like an invisible protective shield and reflect sun rays like little mirrors. Combined with nano-scale titanium oxide, another Degussa product, which acts primarily as a UVB filter, zinc oxide can create a very effective UV wide-band filter with high light protection factors that reliably protect against aging skin (UVA) and sunburn (UVB), and can be well tolerated by sensitive skin.
AdNano TM ITO, a conductive indium tin oxide, allows transparent, antistatic coatings. Antistatic coatings are meant to prevent the electrostatic charging of plastic and paint surfaces-a phenomenon that leads to sudden discharges that can damage electronic components in devices such as computers. Electrostatic charging also promotes dust adhesion and is, for this reason, undesirable in hygienic areas. Because of its small particle size, AdNanoTM ITO can be formulated for both transparent coatings-for example, for plastic windows-and for optional colored coatings. Another advantage of AdNanoTM ITO is its IR absorbency, which can significantly reduce the energy charge in buildings or vehicles caused by solar radiation, thus lowering the capacity requirements of air conditioning.
The first application tests with AdNanoTM ITO in cooperation with Degussa's Plexiglas Business Unit have already been quite successful. For semi-finished products made of PLEXIGLAS® the business unit developed a cross-linked UV paint with indium oxide particles dispersed evenly throughout the paint matrix, ensuring that electrical charges are immediately discharged. In addition to the antistatic effect, this nearly transparent coating is also more scratch and chemical resistant than uncoated PMMA. Degussa is currently working on a coating process suitable for production.
Degussa Advanced Nanomaterials plans to establish itself as a profitable business entity by the end of 2006. The Degussa business development group Creavis Technologies & Innovation and the Aerosil & Silanes Business Unit are providing up to EUR25 million over the next four years toward this goal. Degussa Advanced Nanomaterials will be bringing production capacities online by the ton as early as summer 2003 in Hanau-Wolfgang. In addition, the start-up has at its disposal pilot production facilities that were developed by the project house for the continued development of new products and processes.