Lightweight and strong are some of the properties that have made nanoforms popular in many consumer products. Next time you get a new bike, you might find yourself sitting on nanoparticles.
Nanomaterials are used in a great number of consumer products. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are used in tennis rackets to make them stronger and increase the ball-hitting power. Titanium dioxide is used in sunscreen as a UV filter to protect us from sunburn, just to mention a couple of examples.
Where can I find them?
Here are some of the categories where you often find nano-enhanced products:
- Electronics and solar panels
- Paints and inks
- Sports equipment
- Pharmaceutical products
If you like to go skiing during winter you know how important it is that the skis slide easily on the snow. Some skis are coated in nanomaterials to improve exactly that. Some modern road bikes are very light. Going uphill on a heavy steel frame is not a lot of fun unless you really want to burn some calories. A lighter frame makes the bike faster.
Some bike frames enhanced with carbon nanotubes weigh as little as 1 055 grams and yet they are 400 times stronger than steel tubes. Not a hard choice if you are in the Tour de France and want to make it first to the summit of the Pyrenees. Or even if you are just late for work.
Nanosilver is another of the commonly used nanomaterials. It can be found in washing machines, hospital equipment, sport clothing, food packaging and supplements. The good thing about nanosilver is that it reduces bacteria, which will make your clothes smell less once you get to the top of that hill on your bike.
New transparent sunscreen
If you have ever used sunscreen, the chances are that you also had nano titanium dioxide in your hands.
Titanium dioxide is one of the most used nanomaterials in consumer products. In sunscreen, it protects us against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. You remember the old sticky white sunscreens that were common years back. Nowadays, nanotechnology, using invisible particles at the nanoscale, has made it possible to create transparent sunscreens that work just as well.
Converting sunlight into electricity
Sunscreen is not the only link between the sun and nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is also used to make solar panels work better. Nanomaterials help keeping the panels clean and they also improve how much of the sun’s energy the panels are able to absorb and convert into electricity.
These are just a few examples, the list of consumer products that contain nanomaterials are almost endless. Looking around your home or office you might find nanomaterials used in products such as inkjet printing and tattoo inks, pregnancy tests, deodorants, toothpaste, plastic drinking bottles, water repellent clothes, tennis rackets, car tires, golf clubs, computer and tv-screens, chewing gum and as colorants in candy.