Nanoparticles have one dimension that measures 100 nanometers or less. The properties of many conventional materials change when formed from nanoparticles. This is typically because nanoparticles have a greater surface area per weight than larger particles which causes them to be more reactive to some other molecules.
Nanoparticles are used, or being evaluated for use, in many fields. The list below introduces several of the uses under development.
The surface change of protein filled nanoparticles has been shown to affect the ability of the nanoparticle to stimulate immune responses. Researchers are thinking that these nanoparticles may be used in inhalable vaccines.
Researchers at Rice University have demonstrated that cerium oxide nanoparticles act as an antioxidant to remove oxygen free radicals that are present in a patient's bloodstream following a traumatic injury. The nanoparticles absorb the oxygen free radicals and then release the oxygen in a less dangerous state, freeing up the nanoparticle to absorb more free radicals.
Researhers are developing ways to use carbon nanoparticles called nanodiamonds in medical applications. For example nanodiamonds with protein molecules attached can be used to increase bone growth around dental or joint implants.
Researchers are testing the use of chemotherapy drugs attached to nanodiamonds to treat brain tumors. Other researchers are testing the use of chemotherapy drugs attached to nanodiamonds to treat leukemia.
More about Nanotechnology in Medicine
A synthetic skin, that may be used in prosthetics, has been demonstrated with both self healing capability and the ability to sense pressure. The material is a composite of nickel nanoparticles and a polymer. If the material is held together after a cut it seals together in about 30 minutes giving it a self healing ability. Also the electrical resistance of the material changes with pressure, giving it a sense ability like touch.
Silicate nanoparticles can be used to provide a barrier to gasses (for example oxygen), or moisture in a plastic film used for packaging. This could slow down the process of spoiling or drying out in food.
Zinc oxide nanoparticles can be dispersed in industrial coatings to protect wood, plastic, and textiles from exposure to UV rays.
Silicon dioxide crystalline nanoparticles can be used to fill gaps between carbon fibers, thereby strengthening tennis racquets.
Silver nanoparticles in fabric are used to kill bacteria, making clothing odor-resistant.
Researchers are using photocatalytic copper tungsten oxide nanoparticles to break down oil into biodegradable compounds. The nanoparticles are in a grid that provides high surface area for the reaction, is activated by sunlight and can work in water, making them useful for cleaning up oil spills.
Researchers are using gold nanoparticles embedded in a porous manganese oxide as a room temperature catalyst to breakdown volatile organic pollutants in air.
Iron nanoparticles are being used to clean up carbon tetrachloride pollution in ground water.
Iron oxide nanoparticles are being used to clean arsenic from water wells.
Researchers have used nanoparticles called nanotetrapods studded with nanoparticles of carbon to develop low cost electrodes for fuel cells. This electrode may be able to replace the expensive platinum needed for fuel cell catalysts.
Researchers at Georgia Tech, the University of Tokyo and Microsoft Research have developed a method to print prototype circuit boards using standard inkjet printers. Silver nanoparticle ink was used to form the conductive lines needed in circuit boards.
Combining gold nanoparticles with organic molecules creates a transistor known as a NOMFET (Nanoparticle Organic Memory Field-Effect Transistor). This transistor is unusual in that it can function in a way similar to synapses in the nervous system.
A catalyst using platinum-cobalt nanoparticles is being developed for fuel cells that produces twelve times more catalytic activity than pure platinum. In order to achieve this performance, researchers anneal nanoparticles to form them into a crystalline lattice, reducing the spacing between platinum atoms on the surface and increasing their reactivity.
Researchers have demonstrated that sunlight, concentrated on nanoparticles, can produce steam with high energy efficiency. The "solar steam device" is intended to be used in areas of developing countries without electricity for applications such as purifying water or disinfecting dental instruments.
A lead free solder reliable enough for space missions and other high stress environments using copper nanoparticles.
Silicon nanoparticles coating anodes of lithium-ion batteries can increase battery power and reduce recharge time.
Semiconductor nanoparticles are being applied in a low temperature printing process that enables the manufacture of low cost solar cells.
A layer of closely spaced palladium nanoparticles is being used in a hydrogen sensor. When hydrogen is absorbed, the palladium nanoparticles swell, causing shorts between nanoparticles. These shorts lower the resistance of the palladium layer.
|CytImmune||Gold nanoparticles for targeted delivery of drugs to tumors|
|Invitrogen||Qdots for medical imaging|
|Antaria||Zinc oxide nanoparticles used in coatings to reduce UV exposure|
|Nanoledge||Epoxy resins strengthened with nanoparticles|
Compiled by Earl Boysen of Hawk's Perch Technical Writing, LLC and UnderstandingNano.com. You can find him on Google+.