Commercial Applications of Nanotechnology in Materials, Composites, Coatings and Textiles

Topics Covered

Background
Nanocomposite Plastics and Carbon Nanotubes in Packaging
Nanoporous Compounds in Insulation and Microelectronics
Nanoparticles in Plastics and Colloids
Nano Coatings
Smart Textiles

Background

Composite materials are commonplace, but they are being affected by the introduction of nanotechnology to production processes. Clay nanoparticles, for instance, are of new relevance to materials, due to their ability to make the materials stronger, lighter, more durable, and often transparent. These materials are already being applied in the US automotive industry; the GM Motors Safari and Chevrolet Astro vans, for instance, use a nanocomposite material for a ‘step-assist’, an optional extra to improve access to the vehicle.

Nanocomposite Plastics and Carbon Nanotubes in Packaging

The materials are also being developed for use in packaging and aerospace. Nanocomposite plastics are being used for consumer and industrial packaging, and carbon nanotubes have been incorporated to improve packaging for electronics components. Carbon nanotubes are excellent candidates for composite materials, again making the end product lighter and stronger. Smart food packaging that senses if the product has spoilt or has been tampered with is an extension of these improvements.

Nanoporous Compounds in Insulation and Microelectronics

Nanoporous silica compounds hold possibilities for improved insulating materials. The low-density, highly porous solid can be used within a wide range of temperatures, with applications in many fields, from refrigerators and freezers to pipe insulation. They also hold potential as insulating materials with low dielectric constants, which are increasingly important in the microelectronics industry.

Nanoparticles in Plastic and Colloids

Nanoparticles are highly effective catalysts, due to the increased surface area at such a small scale, and are being tested for use in plastics manufacturing to improve the properties and versatility of the resulting materials. Nanoparticles are also used in colloids, which in turn are being used in sunscreens, printer ink, and paints. Zinc and titanium oxide sunscreens, for instance, use nanoparticles that are so small they do not scatter light, leaving the end product clear instead of white.

Nano Coatings

Coatings are an important nano-material. Such coatings, sometimes made of self-assembling monolayers (SAM - thin layers one molecule thick spontaneously formed by a substance), are applicable in many ways, from scratch resistant coatings for glass to self-cleaning surfaces.

Smart Textiles

Coatings are an important nano-material. Such coatings, sometimes made of self-assembling monolayers (SAM - thin layers one molecule thick spontaneously formed by a substance), are applicable in many ways, from scratch resistant coatings for glass to self-cleaning surfaces.

Primary author: Professor Stephen Wood, Professor Richard Jones and Alison Geldart.

Source: ESRC The Social and Economic Challenges of Nanotechnology report, July 2003.

For more information on this source please visit Economic and Social Research Council.

 

Date Added: Oct 29, 2004 | Updated: Jun 11, 2013
Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Submit