Some examples of how nanotechnology impacts our lives now
Note: These are only a few examples of several thousand applications currently being used.
A plastic nanocomposite is being used for “step assists” in domestically built vehicles. It is scratch-resistant, light-weight, and rust-proof, and generates improvements in strength and reductions in weight, which lead to fuel savings and increased longevity. And in 2001, a major foreign manufacturer started using nanocomposites in a bumper that makes it 60% lighter and twice as resistant to denting and scratching.
Golf club manufacturers are now devoting big bucks to nano R&D. Thus far, only one company among the big boys to convert research into tangible products, which offers three drivers, a fairway wood, four balls and even a golf bag made using nano-materials.
Metal nanocrystals might be incorporated into car bumpers, making the parts stronger, or into aluminum, making it more wear resistant. Metal nanocrystals might be used to produce bearings that last longer than their conventional counterparts, new types of sensors and components for computers and electronic hardware.
Nanocrystals of various metals have been shown to be 100 percent, 200 percent and even as much as 300 percent harder than the same materials in bulk form. Because wear resistance often is dictated by the hardness of a metal, parts made from nanocrystals might last significantly longer than conventional parts.”
A manufacturer is marketing an antimicrobial dressing covered with nanocrystalline silver. The nanocrystalline coating of silver rapidly kills a broad spectrum of bacteria in as little as 30 minutes.
Drug-conjugated nanocrystals attach to the protein in an extracellular fashion, enabling movies of protein trafficking. (They) also form the basis of a high-throughput fluorescence assay for drug discovery.
Stain-repellent clothing uses a process that coats each fiber of fabric with “nano-whiskers.”
Many polymer dispersions contain polymer particles ranging from ten to several hundred nanometers in size. Polymer dispersions are found in exterior paints, coatings and adhesives, or are used in the finishing of paper, textiles and leather.
Nanotechnology also has applications in the food sector. Many vitamins and their precursors, such as carotinoids, are insoluble in water. However, when skillfully produced and formulated as nanoparticles, these substances can easily be mixed with cold water, and their bioavailability in the human body also increases. Many lemonades and fruit juices contain these specially formulated additives, which often also provide an attractive color.
In the cosmetics sector, has for several years been using UV absorbers based on nanoparticulate zinc oxide and or titanium dioxide. Incorporated in sun creams, the small particles filter the high-energy radiation out of sunlight. Because of their tiny size, they remain invisible to the naked eye and so the cream is transparent on the skin.
Sunscreens are utilizing nanoparticles that are extremely effective at absorbing light, especially in the ultra-violet (UV) range. Due to the particle size, they spread more easily, cover better, and save money since you use less. And they are transparent, unlike traditional screens which are white. These sunscreens are so successful that by 2001 they had captured 60% of the Australian sunscreen market.
Using aluminum nanoparticles, rocket propellants that burn at double the rate. They also produce copper nanoparticles that are incorporated into automotive lubricant to reduce engine wear.
Researchers have produced a nanoparticulate based synthetic bone. “Human bone is made of a calcium and phosphate composite called Hydroxyapatite. By manipulation calcium and phosphate at the molecular level, we have created a patented material that is identical in structure and composition to natural bone. This novel synthetic bone can be used in areas where natural bone is damaged or removed, such as in the in the treatment of fractures and soft tissue injuries.”
Nano silver is used as a sanitizer in sports clothing, socks and as a coating to prevent spread of germs and disease.
A manufacturer makes a tungsten-carbide-cobalt composite powder (grain size less than 15nm) that is used to make a sintered alloy as hard as diamond, which is in turn used to make cutting tools, drill bits, armor plate, and jet engine parts.
OLED color screens (made of nanostructured polymer films) for use in car stereos and cell phones. OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes) may enable thinner, lighter, more flexible, less power consuming displays, and other consumer products such as cameras, PDAs, laptops, televisions, and other as yet undreamt of applications.
Nanoclays and Nanocomposites
Used in packaging, like beer bottles, as a barrier, allowing for thinner material, with a subsequently lighter weight, and greater shelf-life.
Double Core tennis balls have a nanocomposite coating that keeps it bouncing twice as long as an old-style ball. This nanocomposite is a mix of butyl rubber, intermingled with nanoclay particles, giving the ball substantially longer shelf life.
Catalystic coatings have been developed that use UV light as an activator to make surfaces self cleaning and self sanitizing.
China has developed a process that will enable it to liquefy coal and turn it into gas. The process uses a gel-based nanoscale catalyst, which improves the efficiency and reduces the cost.
One of the characteristic properties of all nanoparticles has been used from the outset in the manufacture of automotive catalytic converters: The surface area of the particles increases dramatically as the particle size decreases and the weight remains the same. A variety of chemical reactions take place on the surface of the catalyst, and the larger the surface area, the more active the catalyst. Nanoscale catalysts thus open the way for numerous process innovations to make many chemical processes more efficient and resource-saving – in other words more competitive.
A manufacturer makes a filter that is capable of filtering the smallest of particles. The performance is due to its nano size alumina fiber, which attracts and retains sub-micron and nanosize particles. This disposable filter retains 99.9999+% of viruses at water flow rates several hundred times greater than virus-rated ultra porous membranes. It is useful for sterilization of biological, pharmaceutical and medical serums, protein separation, collector/concentrator for biological warfare detectors, provide clean drinking water in 3rd world countries and several other applications.
Future nano robots working on blood cell