While Thanksgiving this year was a holiday for most of us, filled with visiting relatives, turkey, and football, the US PTO quietly published a bumper crop of nanotech 977 patent applications on Thanksgiving Day – 62 to be precise!  Some of my “favorites” include those with applications in cleantech and bionanotech.  In addition, the intersection of polymer science and nanotechnology is clearly evident and commercially significant in the nanotech patent literature.  Polymeric nanoparticles are an important type of nanoparticle, supplementing inorganic nanoparticle systems like quantum dots.

For example, US Patent Publication 2011/0288241 relates to rod-coil diblock copolymers for organic solar cells.  The block copolymer can improve the efficiency of the solar cell, according to the patent application.   It may function as a compatibilizing agent for the polythiophene-PCBM active layer.  In another example of nanotech being used for cleantech applications, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are also the subject of US Patent Publication No. 2011/0284063.

In an example of bionanotechnology, NIH supported research is evident in US Patent Publicaton 2011/0288234.  Here, silica/polysiloxane nanoparticles are said to be postloaded with photosensitizers for drug delivery n photodynamic therapy.  The nanoparticle can have tumor targeting properties, according to the patent application.

Biodegradable plastics are the subject of US Patent Publication 2011/0288223.  Supercritical carbon dioxide is used to prepare the material, which is said to be a nanocomposite.  Rapid depressurization of the carbon dioxide is used.  Applications include biodegradable packaging material.

Nanocrystals are used to form light-emitting devices according to US Patent Publication 2011/0287566.

Finally, simplicity is refreshing in a complicated patent system.   US Patent Publication 2011/0287241 describes a three word claim for “a graphene tape.”  Applications include as electrodes for energy storage and conversion devices including the DSSCs, noted above.

This is just a small sample of a Cambrian-like explosion in nanotechnology commercialization efforts as 2011 begins to wrap itself up.  The government and private enterprise, of course, need to figure out better how best to convert this innovation into jobs and lower unemployment by Thanksgiving 2012.