Last week, Elon Musk tweeted that nanotechnology is BS, writing “nano applies to everything & therefore means nothing.” He cited an article by Uncyclopedia which explained nanotechnology as “a form of bullshit used by advertisement firms to either make people believe their hair/skin products are magical, or to make investors give funding on the impressions a product will contain magical robots.”

I was surprised to see the comment come from Elon (as was most of Twitter)—but it’s a sentiment I’ve grown accustomed to hearing since the rise and fall of the nanotech craze in the early 2000s.

Since then, I’ve sat across the table from dozens of U.S. investors, journalists and business leaders who dismiss nanotechnology as either marketing BS or old news.

Scientifically and practically speaking, nanotech is neither of those things. From an industry perspective, here are three facts about nanotech that skeptics are always surprised to learn:

  1. As McKinsey pointed out in their report “The path to improved returns in materials commercialization”, it takes 10 – 20 years for breakthrough advanced materials to achieve widespread acceptance, just look at the adoption cycle for carbon fiber, which took nearly 20 years to achieve wide spread acceptance in the automotive industry, including Tesla cars. Despite feeling like “old news,” the nano revolution is still early in the commercialization and adoption cycle and just recently making impacts in electronics, construction, medicine, 3D printing and more.
  2. Nanotechnology is the bedrock of the most innovative and industry-changing products you see on the market right now, from higher efficiency solid state lighting devices, to HDQD displays, to solar panels, to improved water and air filters, and numerous applications in biomedicine. One of the core benefits of nanotechnology is that with the ability to control the shape, size and functionality of the particle, it provides the ability to load/compound more of the properties you want in the target product or application. In fact, in order for Elon to deliver on his space exploration, hyperloop and energy storage visions, he’ll need additional breakthroughs in nanotech to make it happen. I believe he already knows this and we’re ready to help him achieve these awesome applications!
  3. At Pixelligent, we define the invention of our nanomaterial as the point of innovation. However, we point to the ability to make nanomaterials at mass production scale as the breakthrough technology that allows us to disrupt the chemical composite industry. In fact, in 2017 we were the first nanomanufacturing company to win the Frost & Sullivan Manufacturer of the Year award. Very few companies have accomplished both and I believe more need to make this transition and accelerate the acceptance of nanotech more broadly.
  4. The advanced material market is estimated to reach $102.48 billion by 2024. In a 2016 Deloitte Global and US Council on Competitiveness study, CEOs ranked advanced materials as the third most promising advanced manufacturing technology.


Yet advanced materials manufacturing in the U.S. is poised to go the way of the transistor, semiconductor and solar panel: to Asia. U.S.-based advanced materials companies, including Pixelligent, are increasingly being approached by Asian investors and partners. Why? Because instead of tweeting that nanotech is BS, they’re investing heavily in it.

Originally posted to Linkedin: