Advances in nanotechnology have led to the creation of new materials that feature special properties such as durability, flexibility and increased conductivity. Three examples include:
- Gold nanoparticles, which can be synthesized in a variety of shapes and sizes by many different physical and chemical approaches, have generated interest among scientists and engineers due to the novel properties of these nanoparticles. These properties include variation in colour and catalytic activity, and have enabled gold nanoparticles to be used in a variety of different applications, including drug delivery, contrast agents, biosensors and tags.
- Single-walled carbon nanotubes are the strongest, stiffest, toughest materials ever known. Commercially synthesized to have a high aspect ratio (width to height), high Young´s modulus (stiffness), elastic buckling and thermal stability, these nanomaterials are more than 100 times stronger than steel but only one-sixth the weight of steel. Single-walled carbon nanotubes can also conduct electricity and heat better than any other known substance. As a result of these properties, nanotubes are used in a variety of applications such as tennis rackets and golf clubs (which require a high Young´s modulus), for remediation (due to their high surface area), and in plastic parts for automobiles (where plastic can be electrified so the paint will stick more readily).
- Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, which are synthesized through a number of synthetic methods, have been extensively investigated due to their differences in photocatalytic activity as opposed to larger bulk TiO2 particles. As a result of their particulate nature, photocatalytic activity and the fact that TiO2 particles are uncoloured at the nanoscale, they are used in consumer products such as sunscreens and commercial applications such as paints and coatings. This increases clarity or consistency of the products which is more attractive to consumers.
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