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Common nano-materials and their use in real world applications

Posted on 15. March, 2012.

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Today engineered nano-materials have attracted a great deal of attention due to their important properties which have given birth to vast technological and economic growth in a number of industrial sectors.

Nano-materials are indeed expected to become the cornerstone of a number of sectors such as microelectronics, materials, textiles, energy, healthcare and cosmetic goods. Nanotechnology applications will give rise to cleaner energy production, lighter and more durable materials, inexpensive clean water production and will benefit medical applications such as smart drugs and diagnostics. However, one has to be mindful of the risks involved concerning potential toxicity and exposure route and the verdict is still out on a number of nano-materials as to the relative dangers to humans and the environment. This brief review hopes to describe some of the main contenders and their real world applications but it should only be considered a snapshot of the industry and its relative potential. 

The use of nano-materials in commercial products is rapidly increasing. In 2006, more than 300 commercial products on the market claimed to have enhanced properties due to incorporated nano-materials; this number had more than quadrupled by 2010. Silver is the most common nano-material used in products, followed by carbon-based nano-materials and metal oxides such as TiO2. Nanotechnology is going to pave the way for a revolution in materials, information and communication technology, medicine, genetics, etc. as commercialisation potential is driving innovation from the research laboratories into real world markets. The use of nano-materials can help to improve products and production processes with better characteristics or new functionalities. In coming years, products based on nanotechnology are expected to impact nearly all industrial sectors and will enter the consumer markets in large quantities. Due to the future potential of nanotechnology, many companies across the world are investing heavily in this sector. 

Read the full article in Science Progress, Volume 95, Number 1, March 2012, pp. 1-22(22)

doi: 10.3184/003685012X13294715456431 

Keywords: nanotechnology, nano-materials, metal oxides, photocatalysis, fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, graphene, titanium dioxide, silica aerogels, nano-ceramics, quantum dots. 

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