Nanoparticle Applications and Uses
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.
Nanoparticle Applications in Medicine
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
Nanoparticle Applications in Manufacturing and Materials
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
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.
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,
in fabric are used to kill bacteria, making clothing odor-resistant.
Nanoparticle Applications and the Environment
Researchers are using photocatalytic copper tungsten oxide
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
Researchers are using gold nanoparticles embedded in a porous manganese oxide
as a room temperature catalyst to breakdown volatile organic pollutants
are being used to clean up carbon tetrachloride pollution in ground water.
nanoparticles are being used to clean arsenic from water wells.
Nanoparticle Applications in Energy and Electronics
Researchers have used nanoparticles called nanotetrapods studded with nanoparticles of carbon to develop
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.
nanoparticle ink was used to form the conductive lines needed in
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.
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
A lead free solder reliable enough for space missions and
other high stress environments using
Silicon nanoparticles coating anodes of lithium-ion batteries can
increase battery power and reduce recharge time.
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
Nanoparticle Company Directory
||Gold nanoparticles for targeted
delivery of drugs to tumors
||Qdots for medical imaging
||Zinc oxide nanoparticles used in coatings to reduce UV
||Epoxy resins strengthened with nanoparticles
Earl Boysen of Hawk's Perch Technical Writing, LLC and
UnderstandingNano.com. You can find him on