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By 2025, nanomaterials are expected to reach over $34 billion in sales, having still only scratched the surface of their immense market potential. While the outlook for nanomaterials is generally bright, a number of potential complications exist. In some instances, technical issues, such as the agglomeration of nanotubes in plastic composites, are still a challenge. Concerns about the safety and environmental effects of nanomaterials may be impediments to commercial success.
Many of the initial uses for nanomaterials that have had the greatest commercial impact have involved relatively low-tech materials and applications, including nano-scale versions of conventional materials such as silica, alumina, titanium dioxide, clays, and metals like gold and silver. In the next decade or two, however, some of the relatively novel nanomaterials, particularly carbon nanotubes, will account for a larger share of overall nanomaterial demand.
Health care was the second-largest market for nanomaterials in 2008, but it is expected to overtake electronics as the leading outlet by 2013 and beyond. Nanomaterial-based pharmaceuticals, which include nano-scale drug delivery systems, as well as nano-sized active drug ingredients, have enjoyed a significant degree of commercial success to date. In the future, it is expected that nanomaterials will expand from pharmaceuticals into other medical product and health care applications, including diagnostics, imaging and dental care.
In 2008, the nanomaterial market was overwhelmingly concentrated in the developed world. The U.S. and Japan combined to account for over half of world demand, while Western Europe, Taiwan and South Korea represented an additional 34%. By 2025, it is expected that China will overtake Japan as the second-largest market for nanomaterials in the world, behind the U.S., accounting for 12% of global demand.
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