Totally tubular Rosseter tries to take miracle molecule to next level

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Dec. 2, 2002 — When it comes to nanotubes, the small tech world has been in ready, steady — wait! mode for a while now. Hailed as a wondermaterial, the tubes have been slow to make their way into products. The industry will be one step closer once Rosseter Holdings Ltd. sets up its licensing agreement with an unnamed company in Taiwan.

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The Cyprus-based concern has been waiting for a break like this. The deal has yet to be finalized. But if everything goes according to plan, a factory using Rosseter technology will be built in Taiwan and production of commercial products will begin in eight months. “The products to be made concern flat panel displays and lithium batteries,” said Managing Director Maria Xenophontos-Ioannou, declining to give further details.

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With their combination of strength and resilience, carbon nanotubes are expected to revolutionize materials used in industry and consumer products. The revolution is still in the making, however. Most of Rosseter’s clients are buying nanotubes to work on prototypes and to research new materials — not quite the industrial production phase.

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Analysts note commercial products may be further away than many nanotube enthusiasts have been hoping. According to SRI Consulting Business Intelligence, field emission displays using nanotubes won’t be on the market until sometime between 2004 and 2010, hydrogen storage applications from 2007 to 2014 and energy devices like batteries not until 2005 to 2010.

Rosseter uses a modified version of what is commonly referred to as the arc method to make its tubes. It takes hydrocarbon liquids, puts them into the nanotube-generating machine. Then an electric charge is sent and nanotube deposit is created inside the machine. “Our method is scalable and independent of energy sources, since the energy is stored in the liquid hydrocarbons,” explained David Tomanek, Rosseter’s chairman.

Scalability and price are the issues everyone is looking at. Nanotubes must become cheap and produced in industrial quantities if the technology is to have any chance of replacing other materials. “Everyone who has a machine and can produce nanotubes, can scale up. What is not sure is whether they can scale up efficiently,” warned Anthony Despotakis, an analyst at SRI Business Intelligence.

Rosseter can make 100 to 200 grams a day of its most popular product, multiwall nanotubes sold under the name Ross 1. They cost $20 a gram, a fairly competitive price for the industry.

Xenophontos-Ioannou admits the next challenge is getting funding in a difficult market context. Earlier this year, Rosseter tried to raise between $5 million and $10 million in venture capital to no avail. Geography proved to be the catch-22. “The investors were hesitant to invest because we are in Cyprus and they don’t have offices here,” Xenophontos-Ioannou explained. “At the same time, we can’t establish ourselves abroad because we don’t have the funding to do that.”

The funding situation could change once Cyprus joins the European Union in 2004. Until now, Rosseter has hasn’t had any government help. But once Cyprus joins the EU, Rosseter will be able to apply for the European Union’s generous research funds.


Company file: Rosseter Holdings Ltd.
(last updated Dec. 2, 2002)

Rosseter Holdings Ltd.

4 Nikiforou Lytra
P.O. Box 57220
3313 Limassol

Incorporated in 1998 by Maria Xenophontos-Ioannou and Russian physicist Vladislav Ryzhkov.

Carbon nanotubes


Although specific sales figures are unknown, Rosseter did sell 700 grams of carbon nanotubes in 2001. At $20 per gram, that indicates a minimum revenue of $14,000.

Small tech-related products and services
Rosseter’s five carbon nanotube products, created using an arc-discharge process, are titled Ros-1 through Ros-5. Product types vary with regard to electron emission properties and the amounts of multiwall vs. single-wall carbon nanotubes present.


  • Maria Xenophontos-Ioannou: managing director
  • David Tomanek: chairman
  • Vladislav Ryzhkov: director of R&D
  • Selected strategic partners and customers
    Rosseter has set up a partnership with an unnamed Taiwanese company for the manufacture of carbon nanotubes for use in flat panel displays and lithium batteries.

    Investment history
    The firm has received $1.3 million in investments since their founding in 1998; of this, $700,000 came from Rosseter employees.

    Barriers to market
    Venture funding is difficult to obtain because of Rosseter’s location. Additionally, the Cyprus economy is so small that government business subsidies are not available.


  • Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc.
  • Nanoledge

  • Showa Denko
  • Hyperion Catalysis International
  • Mitsui & Co. Ltd.

    In addition to selling nanotubes and licensing, Rosseter would like to co-develop products that incorporate nanotubes. The company expects to go public in Europe around three years from now.

    Why they’re in small tech?
    “My research started during my Ph.D. in Europe on atomic clusters during the 1980s, so I’ve seen the origins of nanotechnology,” said David Tomanek, Rosseter’s chairman. “Commercial success is a prerequisite for further research — there is a very clear correlation between research and commercial applications for real people.”


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  • Phone: +357 255 91600
  • Fax: +357 255 91888
  • E-mail: [email protected]
  • Recent news and publications
    Professor to lead Rosseter’s board

    — Research by Gretchen McNeely


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