The Role Being Played By Nanotechnology In Average Homes

Nanotechnology In average homes

For the past decade, we have seen successive waves of hype surround the evolution of nano-materials. After a few missteps, we are seeing the role being played by nanotechnology in average homes blossom.  Today, from the lounge room to the barbeque to the garage, nanotechnology products are finding their place in the market. The average home is already filled with products enhanced or reliant upon nanotechnology.

 

Nanotechnology In Average Homes

Early applications of nanotechnology in areas such as construction, industrial cleaning, coatings, microelectronics, and sunscreens are fairly well known. What is less well-recognised is just how comfortable nanotechnology has made itself in our homes.

 

So, what do we mean by nanotechnology? Nanotechnology is generally defined as the manipulation of matter at dimensions between 0.1 and 100 nanometers. To put that in perspective, a human hair is typically between 80,000 and 100,000 nanometers thick.

 

Nanotechnology In Your Living Room

If your lounge room has a welcoming sofa, comfy chairs, carpets, curtains, marble or stone flooring tiles, or feature walls, then chances are nanotechnology has already made itself felt in your home.

 

Modern fabrics, natural and man-made stone and wood are all benefiting from the protection offered against accidental spills; stains and rust by nanotechnology-based preventative coverings.

 

Nanotechnology In Your Laundry, Bathroom & Closet

Think there’s nothing high-tech lurking in your laundry room? Wrong! Many laundry powders now have up to 30 percent of their weight comprised of zeolites. A family of nano-materials manufactured mostly from silicon oxide and aluminium oxide, zeolites have specific nanoporous cage-like microstructures.  Similar to the way sponges absorb water, zeolites absorb molecules. Turns out they just love absorbing heavy metals and bad-smelling compounds found in an average home’s washing wastewater.

 

Bacteria are to blame for the bad odour we frequently associate with workout gear, dirty socks, and pillowcases. Silver nanoparticles are often added to laundry powders to kill the bacteria and banish the smell. Other products use copper nanoparticles to achieve a similar goal.

 

You can purchase up-market linen, towels, clothes, rugs, and a range of fabrics with embedded either silver or copper nanoparticles.

 

Nanoparticles are also widely used in cosmetics. Some formulations include nanoparticles, such as aluminium oxide, which is used as a transparent filler material. It’s easy to apply as a fine powder. In other cases, nano-particles play a more active role.

 

Fullerenes are carbon molecules arranged into a football shape. They are added as “Fullersomes” to certain cosmetics where they act as antioxidants and free radical inhibitors.

 

Luxury cosmetic companies are increasingly combining gold nano-particles with silk-like proteins to create anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle creams. The gold nano-particles carry the silk-like proteins into human cells to restore shape.

 

Nanotechnology In Your Kitchen

Many modern kitchens come fitted with a water filter. This filter removes microbes and compounds that can give water a bad taste. Common filter materials include activated carbon and silver nanoparticles.

 

Activated carbon is a special form of carbon molecule that’s designed to have a very large surface area. Its large surface area provides more space for unwanted compounds to adhere to, removing them from the water.

 

Silver’s antimicrobial properties make it particularly flexible as a nano-material. Today, silver nanoparticles are commonly used to kill algae and bacteria by releasing single silver atoms or silver ions that penetrate the cell wall of the organisms and become toxic.

 

It has proven to be so effective that silver nanoparticles are now being used to coat cutlery, bench surfaces, fridge interiors, door handles, pet bowls and almost anywhere else these bad smelling microorganisms have been known to populate.

 

Other nanoparticles are being actively used to prepare heat-resistant and self-cleaning surfaces, such as kitchen floors and bench tops. By applying a thin coating of silicon dioxide or titanium dioxide nanoparticles, a surface can become water repelling, which prevents staining and rust forming.

 

These nano-particle-based films are so thin they can’t be seen with the human eye. These materials also have very poor heat conductivity, meaning they are also heat resistant, a handy property in a kitchen!

 

Both the kitchen sink and a dishwasher are common ears where grease, oils, and fats can accumulate and prove stubbornly resistant to conventional cleaning. Now nanotechnology is transforming the common everyday dishwashing detergent by including nanoparticles called micelles.

 

Micelles are formed when detergent molecules self-assemble into a sphere. The centre of this sphere is chemically similar to the unwanted grease, oils, and fats. The detergent traps the grease, oils, and fats within the sphere, separating them from the dishwater and making dishwashing easier and hassle-free.

 

Nanotechnology In Your Medicine Cabinet

Unbeknown to you, your medicine cabinet may already be home to nanotechnology-based products, which incorporate nanostructures similar to micelles. Advanced pharmaceuticals are increasingly using structures called liposomes.

 

Liposomes are extended micelles, which incorporate an additional interior cavity within the sphere. Designing liposomes from tailored nano-molecules allow them to effectively deliver therapeutics inside their structure, while the outside of the nano-particle can be designed to target a specific part of the body.

 

Nanotechnology In Your Garage

Newly developed nano-particles such as graphene and carbon nanotubes are among the strongest materials known to science.

 

Currently, they are increasingly used as composite materials to add strength to structures while incurring minimal weight penalties. Both carbon nanotubes and graphene are now common additives in sporting equipment as diverse as bicycles and bicycle tyres through to tennis rackets, golf balls, and golf clubs.

 

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are increasingly being added to paints to provide enhanced ultraviolet (UV) protection. These nanoparticles absorb UV light before it can degrade the pigments that give paint its colour.

 

Nano-particles can also confer self-cleaning properties enabling the paint surface to become water repelling as water droplets quickly run off the surface, collecting dirt and grime molecules on the way.

 

Catalytic converters have been a standard fitting in our cars since the 1970s in an effort to reduce smog and pollution-causing emissions from cars.

 

These high-tech converters combine a number of different nanoparticles including platinum, palladium, rhodium and cerium oxide. They actively degrade noxious car exhaust fumes into less harmful by-productions.

 

While nanotechnology has been active inside your car’s engine, it has also been widely adopted as an additive to the protective coating applied to your car’s paintwork and bonded into its windscreen and window glass. Again, these nanocoatings employ nanotechnology’s self-cleaning attributes and provide durable protection while eliminating the need for waxing your car.

 

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 Last Word

Over the past decade, we have seen nano-materials assuming a prominent role in our homes. Today, nanotechnology in average homes is moving beyond basic products and into advanced applications. From the lounge room to the barbeque to the garage, nanotechnology products are increasingly finding their place in our homes.  These days, the use of products enhanced or reliant upon the technology is being embraced allowing for the proliferation of the use of nanotechnology in average homes.

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