The term nanotechnology might seem like something reserved for a science lab, but it is as close as the latest pregnancy announcement that you may have heard.

That’s right, the second pink line on a pregnancy test only appears if the hCG hormone is present. If the tester is pregnant, gold nanoparticles tagged with a specific antibody attach to the hCG on the second strip.

And nanotechnology is doing more than telling women they are pregnant. Advances are improving bulletproof vests, making plastic beer bottles possible, and coating products to make them better— from flame resistant furniture to fortified glass surfaces to antimicrobial bandages.

The global nanotechnology market is projected to reach $2.23 million by 2025 according to a study by Allied Market Research. This growth is credited to increasing applications across industries, including communication, medicine, transportation, agriculture, energy, materials and manufacturing, and consumer products.

What is Nanotechnology? 

A nanometer is the microscopic measurement of one billionth of a meter. For perspective, consider that one sheet of paper is roughly 100,000 nanometers thick. 

According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, nanotechnology is, “the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.” In other words, it’s the ability to manipulate and create matter, enhancing it for the purpose it will serve, at the molecular level. 

Why Invest in Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is an exciting investment opportunity because of its growing, impactful applications across industries. 

Nanotech innovation and their applications have a range of biomedical potential. In medicine, specifically, nanotechnology is solving real-world health challenges by innovating from prevention to diagnostics to treatment. 

For example, antibiotics have long been a standard treatment for infection. However, the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in increasingly drug-resistant bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were an estimated 119,247 cases of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections and 19,832 associated deaths nationwide in 2017.

As an alternative to antibiotics, novel nanomaterials can combat pathogens, not only offering a more targeted delivery of medicine and therapeutics, but also a more targeted treatment. 

The potential for nano-driven solutions to public health issues is not lost on big investors. 

Novo Holdings REPAIR Impact Fund, recently invested EUR 7 million in Mutabilis, a company developing novel antibacterials for drug-resistent bacteria. 

And nanovaccines against both bacteria and cancerous tumors are also in the works, according to a recent report from the Advanced Materials “Biomimetic Nanotechnology toward Personalized Vaccines.” Not only can nanotechnology “increase the potency of vaccines,” it can personalize applications of both vaccines and treatments with the potential for tremendous social and economic impact. 

Nanotechnology is also helping patients suffering from endometriosis, a condition that affects 10% of childbearing-age women will experience endometriosis.

The traditional treatment for the condition was to surgically remove lesions, which often recur after surgery and require multiple invasive surgeries. Using nanotechnology, scientists instead employ tiny polymeric materials packed with a specialized dye. Not only do the tiny materials fluoresce to show where the lesions are, essentially providing imaging. They also kill the lesion cells by flaring to 115 degrees Fahrenheit upon exposure to near-infrared light, helping to remove the lesions.

Nanotechnology is also improving cardiovascular care by reducing the size and improving the effectiveness of instruments used for cardiac surgery. 

There’s even the potential for nanorobots, which have the potential to operate in the human body, analyzing and reporting on given tissues. 

Because nanotech also has broad potential beyond the healthcare field.

For example, nanotechnology is constantly improving electronics, which, as they become smaller and smaller, also become increasingly harder to manufacture. Nanotec can shrink these technology tools so that they fit in our pockets while also making them better at processing data, increasing memory space, lighter and more portable, and improving functionality overall. 

Nanotechnology is responsible for the lithium-ion battery, for example. Offering a minimum power draw and high-energy-density, these now commonplace batteries weren’t on the market until the 1990s. Since then, they’ve become increasingly more powerful and less expensive. 

And yet, the innovation hasn’t stopped. The world is now taking stock of graphene, a single, thin layer of graphite. Although graphene shares the same atoms as graphene, its properties are extremely different because the atoms are arranged differently. 

Nanotech Energy, a battery and graphene technology startup, recently secured $27.5 million in funding, according to the company. Founded in 2014, the company plans to release a non-flammable, environmentally friendly lithium battery that charges much quicker than those currently on the market in the coming year. 

How to Invest in Nanotechnology

Yes, the growth potential for nanotechnology is impressive, but the sector doesn’t come without risk. Although nanotech has been around for years, it is still considered an emerging field and the industry is still sorting out where the best, more profitable applications lie. This can make investing in individual nanotechnology companies a risky proposition.

However, a search on Magnifi indicates that there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds available to give investors broad exposure to this industry without concentrating their bets on any one company.

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The information and data are as of the June 8, 2021 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

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