This year marks the 25th anniversary of Nanophase Technologies, a company that grew out of Argonne National Laboratory in 1989 where some of the earliest research in the nanotech space was taking place. Nanophase began as a small group of scientists who were using an inert gas condensation system to produce three to four grams of nanoparticles a day. They were looking for a way to commercialize this new technology.
Their growth over the next decade would be tremendous, transitioning from a purely conceptual space in Evanston, IL to a lab in Darien, IL when the need arose for fabrication capability. The nanoparticle creation process was cumbersome in the early days, but the creation of Nanophase’s patented PVS technology finally made it possible to efficiently produce meaningful volumes of Zinc Oxide for the personal care market. This led to the opening of a new plant in Burr Ridge, IL. The company went public in 1997, and research on coating and dispersion technology began shortly thereafter.
The company then began its foray into other elements. Principal Scientist Harry Sarkas, Ph.D., says, “We needed a new process to give us access to the rest of the periodic table.” This new plasma process soon led to the opening of a new plant and headquarters in Romeoville, IL. The process was fully scalable, and Nanophase was now producing hundreds of metric tons of nanoparticles each year. The company had transitioned to a manufacturing enterprise.
The changes didn’t stop there. Nanophase is constantly evolving, tackling new engineering challenges, and leveraging its dispersion and particle production expertise to enter new markets. Nanophase is more entrepreneurial than ever before, now going directly to its customers with products that solve their specific application challenges. Mohammad Ali, one of Nanophase’s first employees who now serves as the Director of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Compliance, believes the company has a bright future. “We have the right business plan and the right people,” Ali says. “Right now we are a very lean, very efficient company.” Jess Jankowski, Nanophase CEO says “Our strongest asset is our people; they are incredibly smart and focused. When you’re a customer of Nanophase, you’re a customer of every employee.”
When speaking of the company’s future Jankowski says, “The history of nanotech is littered with failed start-ups, but Nanophase has turned this niche science into a commercial franchise with real production, real volume and globally significant customers. The company’s 25th anniversary is a testament to our staying power; our growth will continue to be driven by an unmatched combination of technology and talent."
Richard W. Siegel, Ph.D.
Romeoville, IL Laboratory - 2007
NanoArc Synthesis Reactor