European School of DNA Technology

Recently a new graduate school has opened in Europe called the European School of DNA Technology (EScoDNA). Different schools across Europe will have their respective first students represented for a total of 14 first year students into the exciting program.

My thoughts on this is that it gives a well-funded and structured approach to a very complex subject area. With guided focus and efforts I’m sure this new school will do very well and turn out excellent examples of a unified learning environment for Europe as well as perhaps establish a new model for other graduate schools.

At SkySpring Nanomaterials we hope the best for the European School of NDA Technology.


Belated Columbus Day

OK, so Monday was Columbus day. Interesting because he discovered America, right? Well, I believe the history books we read in school were fabricated to keep the story simple as it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Now I like Columbus like the next guy but he really didn’t land in North America in 1492 and he wasn’t the first.

There were Indians (Native Americans) there, right? So, perhaps Columbus discovered Indians but that’s a whole other story. The population that existed in North and South America and the Caribbean has nothing to do with that. Records indicate that Portuguese explorers visited the Americas and mapped the area in 1424, but other than the map itself, there is no information. Going even earlier, Leif Erikson landed in Newfoundland in roughly year 1000 A.D. and even in 1963 an ancient Viking type settlement was discovered at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. It is believed to have been extant around 1000 A.D., roughly half a century before Christopher Columbus. Going back even further, such as the Phoenicians, who have nautical records that stretch back to 1600 B.C., could have and did travel to the New World. Many of the islands on ancient maps, long thought to be mythological or imaginary, were actual places. Many of them, he asserts, correspond to real geographical locations, leading experts to believe that Erikson and others were late to the game of discovering the Americas.

We see discoveries everyday in nanomaterials and elements but often the inventor is correct (except for the likes of Edison or Marconi on some of their popular inventions).  For more news on the nanotechnology scene stay tuned to

Updates on Solar

A few posts ago I mentioned about what the tariffs on solar was doing to the industry but as politics do one thing we see that science and improvements are relatively on their own agenda.  Here’s an interesting article on photovoltaic cells:

If you are lazy, like me, you won’t want to click so I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version of it and from the article: “We apply an infinitesimal layer – one hundredth of a micron – of amorphous silicon on both sides of a crystalline silicon wafer,” explains Christophe Ballif. This “sandwich” conception contributes to increase the sensors’ effectiveness.

This is over 10% more efficient than the best efforts with a less costly and more common material usage. Cheaper and more efficient are two great benefits of the new approach. Stay tuned for more information from SkySpring!

Pricing Trends for 2012

I just watched the movie “Margin Call” last night and it reminded me of how volatile the markets for Rare Earth materials and Polysilicon are. I know of several companies that won’t buy Polysilicon because the price was still going down. Although this last week the spot price did rise ever so slightly. For internal company reasons/politics, many companies won’t do dollar cost averaging which is essentially to keep buying as the price goes lower or higher. This would ensure them that they don’t pay the highest or lowest price but it will all average out. Since the price can be lower many companies don’t buy like this because if the price drops they feel they will be paying too much and that they might have egg on their face. Conversely, companies don’t have the problem of buying when the price goes up. I guess it’s another example of irrational exuberance.

In the movie there was extreme volatility (CMO, MBS, etc. from the Wall Street meltdown of 2008) and that’s what we are seeing now. Prices at all-time lows, prices inflated but now dropping, etc. Truth of the matter is that prices will settle down eventually. People will come to their senses once many have already succumb to the frenzy. In “Margin Call”, Jeremy Irons said “It’s not panicking if you sell first”. In the new year I feel that prices will stabilize as they always do. Because if prices have dropped 50%, for example, does the risk represent the same risk before the price drop? Even though there is increased volatility the price drop does not increase your risk but rather decreases it substantially. Warren Buffet has argued this point endlessly.

My opinion is that prices will stabilize and these markets will resume to normal in the coming year. Necessity is the mother of invention and we desperately need some stability. The market will show some bumps but, as always, will come back to normal after weeding out the ones who were either late to the party or panicked and left the business all together.

SkySpring Nanomaterials is a leading provider of High Purity Elements, Compounds, and Rare Earth materials to industrial, research, and institutional clients worldwide.