Jul 21 2006
Image Credits: immofocus studio/shutterstock.com
Nanotechnology is already widely used to enhance the functionality of numerous consumer products. Products improved by nanotechnology depend on a modification in the physical properties when the feature sizes are minimized.
Sunglasses Produced Using Nanotechnology
Sunglasses using protective and antireflective ultrathin polymer coatings for the first time are already on the market. In the field of optics, nanotechnology offers scratch-resistant coatings based on nanocomposites. These coatings are transparent (therefore, optical performance is not influenced), ultra-thin, ideal for everyday use, and need simple care. Furthermore, the price is economical for the durability offered.
Nanotechnology in Textiles
A particular trend in the textile sector is that clothes are increasingly being manufactured in low-cost countries. High-cost countries in Western Europe can only compete in this sector if they create high-tech clothes with more benefits for users. This includes waterproof and windproof jackets, where nanotechnology already has a major role to play. Going forward, clothes with extra electronic functionalities are being talked about using buzzwords such as “smart clothes” and “wearable electronics.”
Sensors to Monitor Body Functions
Advanced technology, including nanotechnology, could offer features such as sensors (which could track body functions or discharge drugs as per requirement), access to the internet, or self-repairing mechanisms. Simpler realizations are easily available, which make clothes wrinkle-free or water-repellent.
A nanotechnology-based ski jacket has been designed and made by Franz Ziener GmbH & Co. The waterproof and windproof properties of the jacket are possible not because of a surface coating but because of the use of nanofibers.
Wrinkle-Resistant Nanotechnology Fabrics
Nano-Tex is a company that makes stain-repellent and wrinkle-resistant fabrics by attaching molecular structures to cotton fibers. Textiles with a nanotechnological finish must be washed at lower temperatures and less frequently.
High-performance functional clothing is a highly important aspect of the workplace. For instance, Gore-Tex has created a weather-protective, antistatic, outerwear fabric. Nanotechnology has been applied to incorporate minute carbon particles membrane and ensure full-surface protection from electrostatic charges for the wearer.
Nanotechnology in Sports Equipment
A high-performance ski wax, which offers a hard and fast-gliding surface, is very much in use today. The ultrathin coating lasts considerably longer compared to conventional waxing systems. Babolat, a French tennis racket manufacturer, launched a racket with carbon nanotubes, which delivers a better torsion and flex resistance.
The rackets are sturdier than present-day carbon rackets and pack more power. Tennis balls are manufactured by coating the inner core with clay polymer nanocomposites to make them last longer. These tennis balls, manufactured by the company InMat, have twice the lifetime of conventional balls.
Nanotechnology Involvement in Sunscreens
One other area of application of nanotechnology is in sunscreens. The conventional chemical UV protection method is plagued by its poor long-term stability. A sunscreen based on mineral nanoparticles like titanium dioxide offers numerous advantages. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles possess a comparable UV protection property as the bulk material, but lose the cosmetically unwanted whitening as the particle size is reduced.
L´Oréal has introduced an anti-wrinkle cream in which a polymer capsule (Nanosomes™) is used to transfer active agents such as vitamins and a hair conditioner “Aqua-Oleum” where nanotechnology results in better care.