Nano is a size designation. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter in size – or not just large, rather unimaginably small. The word originates from the ancient Greek “nanos” – the dwarf. Particles that are smaller than 100 nanometers are called for an EU regulation as nanoparticles. A protein molecule has five nanometers, a human hair is 80,000 nanometers wide after all, already. Many industries use the micro-particles. They have highly desirable properties – and unexplained risks.
nanostructures make materials lighter, more durable and stain-resistant. Nature serves as a role model: Butterfly wings have about a nanometer-sized scaffold and despite low weight high strength. Lotus plants are known for their liquid-repellent leaves. . This is achieved through their nanostructured surface can not adhere to the soil particles
In general, materials in nano-size properties other than in “original size”: You are about heat-resistant or dissolve better. The make, manufacturers of paints, plastics and even food advantage. During accommodate “normal” surface dirt and water on contact, they can not stick to a nanostructured surface and roll off. Car paints are therefore coated with a repellent nano sealant. To improve lenses nanolayers strength and wear. In some sunscreens titanium dioxide and zinc oxide provide nano-sized that the cream is easy to spread on the skin. Silicas of a few hundred nanometers are used as anti-caking agent in salt and make outdoor fabrics stain resistant. Nanosilver has antimicrobial properties and is used in paint, refrigerators and packaging. Foods such as fruits are coated with nanoparticles and look so fresh longer, and ketchup flows thanks to nano-additives to the last residue from the bottle.
nanotubes for new materials
A special attention have focused on carbon nanotube industry and politics. The carbon nanotubes (short CNTs) are tubular structures made of honeycombed carbon atoms. They are very light, yet is extremely stable and conduct electricity and heat very well. For example, tennis rackets with nanotubes at the same weight unbreakable. Provided with CNTs concrete is much more stable and resilient
Carbon nanotubes are for the automotive and aircraft industry in more ways than interesting. Due to their high electrical conductivity, CNTs are very well suited as catalysts in by more powerful and energy-efficient fuel cells. This property promises a higher load capacity of batteries in electric cars
components in cars and planes consist increasingly of plastics. This saves weight, energy consumption is reduced. However, for modules that are exposed to extreme temperatures and weights, push plastics quickly reach their limits. By CNT additives increases their thermal and mechanical load, the heat can be dissipated. Is still here much in the research and development phase, but CNT considered as an important component for innovative materials and environmentally friendly mobility.
precision weapon against cancer
In medicine applies “Nano “as a future technology, especially in the fight against cancer. Conventional treatments such as chemotherapy are attacking not only sick, but always healthy tissue. Capsules of nanoparticles help to transport to diseased cells without harming healthy tissue substances accurately. They can also be used as carriers for contrast agents for localizing and diagnosing of cancer cells. Reputed pharmaceutical company and always produce new nanoparticles with novel properties. For example, located on the surface of the nanoparticles, a molecule that recognizes cancer cells from their surface structure and then selectively engages.
Another method of therapy began magnetic nanoparticles containing several quadrillion iron oxide particles. These are injected directly into the cancerous tumor and heated there. This creates an alternating magnetic field which causes the particles to oscillate and thus generate high temperatures in the tumor. So the cells are destroyed or at least sensitive to the concomitant chemotherapy.
The market for nano products is growing rapidly. It is estimated that, in Europe there are already 500 OTC products with nanomaterials, including about 100 food products. So the tiny particles in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, sinuses and lungs get. How did the exact impact is still largely unclear. A situation that worries many people. The environmental organization BUND about complains that research into the risks and side effects of nanoproducts their marketing lagging badly. One thing is certain: Nanoparticles can penetrate the intestinal mucosa, because they are so extremely tiny. Researchers at the US-American Cornell University contributed nanoparticles on human intestinal cell cultures. The cell membranes were characterized thinner and more permeable, bacteria can more easily penetrate the intestinal flora and provide inflammation. In this context, other studies found evidence of an increased risk of intestinal disease Crohn’s disease through the consumption of nanoparticles.
Is Nano so the way new interesting material properties and a medical revolution? Or are the tiny particles of an abstract threat to the environment and health? A proof that nanoparticles affect how exactly is missing. The unexplained risks are probably the reason why nano products are not marketed aggressively: Behind the dwarves are huge question mark