PALO ALTO, CA-Agilent Technologies Inc. announces that it has acquired privately held Molecular Imaging Corp. (Tempe, AZ), a developer and manufacturer of nanotechnology measurement tools. Financial details were not disclosed.

Molecular Imaging is known for its atomic force microscopes (AFMs), the principal imaging and measurement instruments used by researchers working in nanotechnology. Called the "eyes of nanotechnology," AFMs are used to measure the shape and properties of materials at the nanometer scale.

"This is a strategic acquisition for Agilent because it complements our core strength of measurement technology while growing our presence in nanotechnology," says Bob Burns, vice president of Agilent's nanotechnology measurements division.

Nanotechnology is important to Agilent, Burns says, because it is a common denominator between the two chief areas of the company's business - the electronic measurements side and the analytical measurements side, which concentrates on life sciences and chemical analysis.

Atomic force microscopes are a significant portion of the $1 billion market for nanotechnology measurement tools. Molecular Imaging's chief product line is the PicoPlus family of modular, high-resolution AFMs, which are used for high-resolution imaging in fluids as well as ambient and controlled environmental and temperature conditions. Customers are researchers in the areas of drug discovery, life science, electrochemistry, materials science and polymer science. Ideal for multipurpose, multiuser facilities, PicoPlus gives researchers the ability to customize their systems and add functionality as needed.

Professor Stuart Lindsay and Dr. Tianwei Jing from Arizona State University founded Molecular Imaging in 1993. The company has had a continuous relationship with the university and its Lindsay Laboratory since then.

Agilent has no plans to move Molecular Imaging operations from the Tempe area, and Molecular Imaging employees have joined Agilent.