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Nanotech Stocks: The Wave of the Future

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted August 26, 2010

As I wrote earlier this week, nanotech is the wave of the future.

And just as plastic, the PC, and the Internet changed the market forever, nanotechnology will do the same… and bring early investors huge returns in the process.

Even members of Congress are on to the fact that nanotechnology will designate the future of science, technology, and investors’ fortunes…

In a 2007 report released by the Joint Economic Committee entitled “Nanotechnology: The Future Is Coming Sooner Than You Think,” Uncle Sam had this to say about the nascent industry:

Enhanced abilities to understand and manipulate matter at the molecular and atomic levels promise a wave of significant new technologies over the next five decades. Dramatic breakthroughs will occur in diverse areas such as medicines, communications, computing, energy and robotics.

But here’s the kicker… Members of Congress also said:

These changes (nanotechnology) will generate large amounts of wealth and force wrenching chang­es in existing markets and institutions.” (emphasis mine)

That’s why the development of this technology is widely seen as the next Industrial Revolution; the latest major upheaval brought about by vastly improved technologies.

And as we said before, all of the major players now recognize this: the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, M.I.T., Intel, and Genentech are just a few of those working to harness the power of engineering on the nanoscale.

Understanding nanotechnology

To cash in on this undeniable trend, first you must understand the basics.

A nanometer (nm) is one millionth of a meter, impossibly small and previously practically unobserv­able. But with the development of new instruments, the nanosphere has been unveiled.

Technologies such as scanning tunneling microscopy, magnetic force microscopy, and electron mi­croscopy now permit scientists to observe events at the atomic level, allowing the industry to bloom.

Even so, the workings on the nanolevel are hard to comprehend. For instance, one nanometer (nm) is the basic unit.

(For comparison, human blood cells are 2,000 to 5,000 nm long; a strand of DNA has a diameter of 2.5 nm; and a line of 10 hydrogen atoms is just 1 nm.)

That means that since we can manipulate matter as small as 1 nm, we can also work within structures like cells, DNA, and molecules in ways that have never been possible before.

Think about it…

Before nanotech, human blood cells were impossible to manipulate.

But with the emergence of this technology, there’s now a great deal of room within those same cells.

That means individual cells — and ultimately their functions — can be altered by man using these new technologies.

That’s how fundamentally disruptive this technology is.

Because at those levels, man, in essence, becomes creator.

By being able not only to manipulate the basic building blocks of matter — but even being able to create new blocks themselves — practically anything is possible to envision and produce.

Nanotech: the sky is the limit

Think about that for moment — anything is possible to envision and produce.

Now that’s radical.

This is some of what it could mean to you:

• Nano-enabled molecular computers that could store trillions of bytes of data in the size of a sugar cube. (That’s practically the sum total of everything that we know!)

• The ability to replicate anything from the ground up at the atomic level: diamonds, water, fuel, and even food could be fabricated using nanotechnology. (Think long and hard about that one…)

• Nanorobots that could be programmed to attack the structure of cancer cells and viruses, rendering them harmless.

• Custom designed therapies based on a patient’s individual DNA.

• “Smart dust” that could be strewn over an area to sense the presence of human beings and communicate their locations.

• Computers that might operate by reading the brain waves of the operator.

In other words… The stuff that was once considered science fiction is now a real possibility.

But there’s even more…

Because as these technologies accelerate, the growth rate of nanotech be­comes almost infinite. This point is called the singularity, and from this point forward, human society is incomparably different from what it is today.

In other words, new and intelligent machines will begin to produce discoveries that are simply too complex for humans to make.

Ponder that one if you will… Because if you do, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the next industrial revolution is close at hand.

But before any of these quantum leaps become reality, the industry must grow from its current humble beginnings.

The singularity, in other words, is advancement in a future world that’s not even on the radar screen yet.

Needless to say, reaching that point will require the passing of numerous nano-milestones.

4 nanotech stocks to watch

In the meantime, here are four companies to watch as the nano-revolution begins to unfold:

  • Harris & Harris Group Inc. (NASDAQ: TINY): Harris & Harris traditionally invests in early-stage companies, which means that this company is able to get in early on these groundbreaking opportunities. Not surprisingly, along with microelectromechanical systems and microsystems, the company is heavily involved in nanotechnology.

  • FEI Corp. (NASDAQ: FEIC): FEI Co. supplies products and systems that enable research, development, and manufacturing of nanoscale items. The company offers focused ion beam (FIB) equipment, scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), transmission electron microscopes, and DualBeam systems, as well as CAD navigation and yield management software. It is, in many ways, a “pick and shovel” nano-play because it manufactures the devices that allow product developers to peer into the nano-world itself.

  • Arrowhead Research Corp. (NASDAQ: ARWR): Like Harris & Harris, Arrowhead is a holding company that operates a portfolio of companies commercializing innovative nanotechnologies. They include Unidym, a developer of carbon nanotubes, and Calando Pharmaceuticals, a company working on a novel nano-enabled drug delivery device.

  • A123 Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: AONE): Fresh off of its $428 million IPO, A123 makes high-energy density of lithium ion batteries featuring its patented NanophosphateTM technology. With more than 2,000 employees, AONE is using nanotech to create the next generation of power storage devices.

But no matter how you decide to invest in nanotech, one thing is for certain: It won’t be long before this monumental trend begins to take Wall Street by storm.

It’s that powerful.

It’s just one word right now… But someday, nanotech will change your life forever.

Your bargain-hunting analyst,

steve sig

Steve Christ
Editor, Wealth Daily