"Although the award is being presented to me, it is really recognition of the hard work done by all of the members of the Nanosys team," said Larry Bock. "We are fortunate to have a world-class team of scientific founders, investors, management and employees. These are the people who are making the novel research of nanoscience into tangible commercial products that will impact a variety of fields."

Nanosys says its intellectual property includes discoveries in the areas of nanodevices, large-scale manufacturing methods, complex nanodevice-based systems and rapid prototyping and characterization tools. The company raised $17 m in initial venture financing.

"Red Herring chooses top-notch engineers, software developers and scientists who have distinguished themselves with a combination of scientific creativity and business acumen," said Blaise Zerega, editor of Red Herring. "This year's list averages seven patents and three start-ups per individual. All told, the people on the list have produced $17 bn in wealth and nearly 9000 jobs."

The list of innovators also features Theo Lee of Hydrocarbon Technologies Inc, a company that applies nanotechnology to the fossil-fuels market, Kurt Petersen, founder of microfluidics and microelectronics specialist Cepheid, and Jennie Mather of biotech start-up Raven Biotechnologies.