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NanoDynamics Inc. raised $12 million from individual investors to back the development of tiny "nanomaterials" for industry, the Buffalo company has announced.

The investment will fund the commercialization of copper powders for electronics and other products, chief executive Keith Blakely said.

The round of funding, bringing the total invested to $16 million, should carry the two-year-old company to profitability within 18 months, he said.

Based on Fuhrmann Boulevard, NanoDynamics has about 35 workers, mostly professionals with engineering backgrounds.

"Our plan is to have a significant manufacturing base here," Blakely said.

NanoDynamics is focusing on developing materials and technologies for energy, electronics and manufacturing. In addition, it is acquiring rights to technologies through its MetaMateria Partners subsidiary in Columbus, Ohio, Blakely said.

Blakely was co-founder of another local company, Advanced Refractory Technologies, which developed thin protective films and other industrial materials. The company in North Buffalo was bought by a division of Tyco in 2001. The following year it closed and shifted operations to a sister plant in Massachusetts.

Inspired by tiny machines in nature, like the cell's DNA replication apparatus, nanotechnology aims to build machines and materials on the molecular scale. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter -- 100,000 nanometers is about the thickness of a human hair.

The federal government is pushing nanotechnology research, providing $3.7 billion to support research through 2008. Nano-scale advances hold the potential for technological leaps forward, such as individually tailored drug delivery, super-strong materials and methods for reducing waste and cutting pollution, according to a report by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The capital injection for NanoDynamics exceeded the company's initial hopes of $8 million in investment, Blakely said. He wouldn't identify the individual investors, who were mainly from New York City, Florida and the West Coast.

Nano-scale powders of copper and other metals are sought by engineers in electronics and aviation to improve on current products, according to the company.

In addition, NanoDynamics is seeing interest in its fuel cell technology from potential corporate customers, a statement said. The fuel cell, which generates current through a chemical reaction, could be an alternative to batteries for applications like remote communications and marine back-up power.


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