NanoDynamics

Scientists the world over regularly make use of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to generate high-resolution nanoscale images. Our technology can now speed up this process by up to six orders of magnitude, and is currently ready for sale.

Whereas a conventional AFM image can take a specialist up to five minutes to produce, the new technique developed by our team at NanoDynamics is designed for a capture rate of 10 frames per second. This speed was pushed up further still to 1200 frames per second for the 20th anniversary of AFM, providing an insight into the tremendous potential of this technology.

In addition to the improved operation speed, our system is controlled by an intuitive joystick mechanism easily accessible to the non-specialist. Rather than appearing line-by-line as in a normal AFM, the image appears almost immediately, resulting in a much more intuitive vision at video rates.

This high-speed AFM has already been used in collaboration with nuclear physicists from the National Nuclear Laboratory in Birmingham and geologists from the University of Bristol, allowing researchers from across the sciences access to high-resolution nanoscale images.

At the core of our business is the belief that this technology has a central role to play in any area where nanoscale information is needed. We recently completed a highly successful collaboration with EDF Energy, for example, to investigate thebrittleness of steel in their reactors, helping them extend the life cycles of their equipment.

Following on from these successes, NanoDynamics intends to begin sales as soon as possible with a versatile product that is suitable for the widest range of markets. Our product is strongly competitive when compared to rivals in the SEM and AFM market places, and a similar business plan will allow us to capitalise on that advantage. Moreover, as my co-founder, Dr Oliver Payton, is a 5-year Research Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering we are also in the enviable place of having an extremely strong research and development team focused on producing the next generation of our product.  This will be a more specialised and optimised device for application in new market areas where current products offered by competitors do not meet the consumers’ needs.

The support offered by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub has been invaluable to us thus far, and I am looking forward to benefiting from the expertise of my Enterprise mentor, Professor Eric Yeatman FREng. One thing I am particularly keen to learn from him is how to maintain a good relationship with the University of Bristol during the spin-out process. Finding the right balance of involvement with the university is an important step, and as somebody who has already been through the process his advice will be invaluable over the coming months.

We are particularly keen to address the next generation genome sequencing market with a product that is disruptive and unlike any other currently in the area. Our system has already been shown to have much greater efficiency than the standard techniques in use today, opening the door to potentially life-changing applications in the near future.

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