Nanotechnology is already widely used to enhance the functionality of numerous consumer products. While many people are unaware of it, they are likely using multiple consumer products that incorporate nanotechnology, or have been created with the help of nanotechnology in their daily lives.
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Sunglasses Produced Using Nanotechnology
Sunglasses using protective and antireflective ultrathin polymer coatings have been on the market for several years. Nanotechnology also 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.
In recent years, advancements in nanotechnology have led to further innovations in consumer products in the field of eyewear. Recently, researchers developed a transparent coating with the help of nanotechnology to prevent fogging on lenses. The technology can be applied to a range of consumer products, such as glasses, sunglasses, ski goggles, and camera lenses.
Nanotechnology in Textiles
Nanoparticles are already commonly used to create consumer products in the fashion industry, including waterproof and windproof jackets, fabrics and clothes with stain resistance (thanks to silica coatings), odor-resistance clothing (by leveraging microbe-killing silver nanoparticles), and even garments with sun protection properties.
Currently, consumer products such as clothes with extra electronic functionalities, such as “smart clothes” and “wearable electronics” are under development. Sports brand Under Armour, for example, has a range of consumer products already available that are classed as “smart clothes”, such as their sleepwear that helps muscles repair faster with the use of nanotechnology and infrared light.
Nanotechnology has also been developed to create wrinkle-resistant nanotechnology fabrics. Nano-Tex, for example, is a company that makes stain-repellent and wrinkle-resistant fabrics by attaching molecular structures to cotton fibers. Textiles with a nanotechnology 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.
Sensors to Monitor Body Functions
Nanotechnology has helped forge the huge sector of wearable technology, which boasts a range of consumer products that can help with almost all fields of life. Advanced nanotechnology sensors are already used in consumer products that many of us use daily, such as smartwatches, smartphones.
In addition, many of us use more specialized consumer products to monitor our health. Sensors used in these consumer products use nanotechnology to accurately and precisely measure body functions, such as heart rate, sweat, and even analyze components of blood non-invasively. This application of nanotechnology is being used to monitor general health, as well as to monitor disease progression and recovery.
Nanotechnology in Sports Equipment
Consumer products in the sports vertical have also been impacted by advances in nanotechnology. A high-performance ski wax, which offers a hard and fast-gliding surface, is used today. The ultrathin coating lasts considerably longer compared to conventional waxing systems. Babolat, a French tennis racket manufacturer, launched a racket with carbon nanotubes, delivering 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
Many consumer products in the sector of sunscreens are now available via the leverage of nanotechnology. The conventional chemical UV protection method is plagued by its poor long-term stability. A sunscreen based on mineral nanoparticles like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide 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. Zinc oxide provide broad-spectrum UVA, UVB, and UVC protection. It provides more thorough protection against UVA rays than titanium oxide nanoparticles.
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”.
The use of nanoparticles in sunscreen and other topical products initially caused concern, as the impact of these new materials on the skin was unknown. So far, studies have found no conclusive evidence that the nanoparticles in sunscreen increase the risk of developing cancer.
Nanotechnology in Electronics
Nanotechnology is used in a vast range of electrical consumer products. Some modern smartphones have incorporated nanoparticle coatings to make them waterproof. Some smart TVs have also leveraged nanotechnology to produce displays with richer colors. Nanotechnology has also been leveraged to produce self-cleaning surfaces, transparent electronics, and flexible screens.
Nanotechnology in Furniture
Similar to how nanotechnology is used in clothing to make it waterproof, it is also used in other consumer products, such as furniture, to make them waterproof and stain resistant. Nanotechnology is also being used to make furniture less flammable.
In the future, it is likely that we will see the development of further applications of nanotechnology in consumer products. This will happen as research advances our understanding and mastery of nanoparticles.
References and Further Reading
Bernard Marr. (2020). 7 Amazing Everyday Examples Of Nanotechnology In Action [online]. Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2020/07/03/7-amazing-everyday-examples-of-nanotechnology-in-action/?sh=375d9cfe3e82
Fabio Benjamin. (2019). Nanotechnology and sunlight clear the way for better visibility [online]. phys.org Available at: https://phys.org/news/2019-03-nanotechnology-sunlight-visibility.html
Mirjalali, S. et al. (2021) ‘Wearable sensors for remote health monitoring: Potential applications for early diagnosis of Covid‐19’, Advanced Materials Technologies, 7(1), p. 2100545. doi:10.1002/admt.202100545.
This article was updated August 2023.