What is Nanotechnology?
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Nanotechnology is the branch of science and engineering dealing with the manipulation, production, and application of materials and structures at the scale of individual atoms and molecules with dimensions less than 100 nanometers.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of conventional materials at the molecular level to produce nanomaterials, which are comprised of nano-sized particles less than 100 nanometers in diameter. Nanoparticles are invisible to the unaided eye. Most conventional materials are composed of particles that range in size from microns (1,000 nanometers) to millimeters (100,000 nanometers). Nanomaterials are comprised of particles ranging in size from 1 to 100 nanometers, giving these materials unique chemical, physical, and biological properties.
What is Nanoscience? Nanoscience is the study of structures and materials on the scale of nanometers. A nanometer is a very small unit of measurement. Here are a few comparative examples to help illustrate the relative size of a nanometer.
- There are 25,400,000 nanometers in one inch
- A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick
- The diameter of a human hair is about 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers
When conventional materials are engineered, designed, and constructed at the nanoscale, they can take on interesting and useful properties. For example, carbon ‘nanotubes’ are 100 times stronger than steel but six times lighter. At the molecular level, nanomaterials are chemically and structurally identical to the conventional materials from which they were derived. Although nanomaterials are derived from the same materials as conventional materials, they exhibit novel characteristics such as increased strength, durability, conductivity, and chemical resistance.
Scientists and engineers have been manipulating and working with nanoparticles for centuries, but until recently, there was no technology available to see the structure of nanoparticles. In recent decades, scientists have developed power microscopes and other imaging technologies capable of displaying particles as small as individual atoms and molecules. By engineering and manipulating conventional materials at the nanoscale, conventional chemical and physical properties of the materials can be drastically altered. For instance, the physical and chemical characteristics of a conventional material such as its color, durability, conductivity, and reactivity can differ substantially between the macroscale and the nanoscale.
Nanoscience & Nanotechnology
Nanoscience & Nanotechnology have promising potential to increase energy efficiency, decrease waste and energy consumption, reduce air pollution, make surfaces cleaner, and solve major health problems. Nanotechnology holds the promise of new solutions to environmental and economic issues central to developing countries, especially those related to public health, sanitation, and food security. Nanomaterials will be smaller and lighter than conventional materials, yet they will be more durable and functional and require less energy and fewer raw materials to manufacture.
Innovative manufacturing methods are being developed to produce new nanomaterials and nanostructures to help solve global environmental challenges. Scientists use instruments such as electron beams to precisely cut features as small as 25 nanometers into metal, silicon, and carbon-based materials. Nanomaterials can also be engineered as liquid coatings with unique physical, chemical, and biological properties. Nanocoatings can be created by reacting chemicals in liquids and gases to generate nanofibers, nanocrystals, and quantum dots, which can be less than one nanometer in diameter.
Nanotechnology has already produced innovations such as stain-resistant fabrics, inspired by the lotus plant, and computer hard drives, which use magnetic storage strips only 20 nanometers thick. Scientists and engineers from many different disciplines use nanoscience principles and technology for advanced applications in energy, medicine, computer science, and chemical engineering. Although technological breakthroughs are difficult to predict, the future of nanoscience will likely move beyond the atomic assembly of nanomaterials to larger-scale macroscopic structures with evolving properties and multiple functions.
"The impact of nanotechnology on the health, wealth, and lives of people will be at least the equivalent of the combined influences of microelectronics, medical imaging, computer-aided engineering, and man-made polymers developed in this century."
— Richard Smalley, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
June 1999; On the Benefits of Nanotechnology
Nanocoatings and How They Work
Nanocoatings are the application of nanoscale thin-films to surfaces to enhance material properties such as hardness, hydrophobicity, abrasion resistance, wear resistance, anti-reflection, corrosion protection, and antimicrobial resistance. These nanoscale ultrathin coatings are invisible to the unaided eye and can be seen only under high magnification. Nanocoating is a surface engineering process in which a thin layer of less than 100 nm in thickness is deposed on the substrate or material to improve properties or functionality.
Applications of nanocoatings to conventional materials and products have contributed to major advancements in the biomedical, engineering, military, energy, and aerospace industries. Conventional materials and coatings have many limitations, such as less durability, poor abrasion resistance, poor thermal insulation, less chemical and corrosion resistance, and strength loss. The application of nanocoatings to conventional materials and products can solve these issues, as well as help to reduce waste and energy consumption.
Nano-structured Coatings are so thin they do not alter the feel or texture of surfaces, yet they can substantially enhance surface characteristics of essentially all materials. The nanoscopic architecture that nanocoatings provides to ordinary surfaces and conventional materials provides improved surface characteristics without altering the chemical composition of the conventional materials. For example, super hydrophobic and oleophobic nanocoatings provide superior self-cleaning properties because of their ability to repel any dirt particles or residues that build up on surfaces.
Self-cleaning nanocoatings mimic a phenomenon known as the “Lotus Effect”. The leaves of the lotus flower have naturally occurring nanoscopic architecture that makes the surfaces so smooth that any dirt or debris is easily removed by water droplets. Nanocoatings can improve the functionality of a wide variety of materials and can substantially enhance the following surface characteristics:
hermal insulation and conductivity
Chemical and corrosion resistance
How nanocoatings work: Nanoparticles can be deposited on a substrate or material to form a permeant bond or coating on the surface after application. Nanocoatings enhance the surface properties of conventional materials and be applied using several different techniques. Nanocoatings can be used to enhance multiple surface properties following application.
When nanocoatings are applied to a surface, the nanoparticles arrange themselves intelligently on the surface. The binding components in the nanocoatings migrate toward the surface and the components with the desired properties, such as abrasion resistance or corrosion protection, migrate away from the surface. The outer most layer of the nanocoating forms an ultrathin, invisible layer that provides extreme durability and protects the surface from environmental conditions. Nanocoatings can be applied to or deposited on a substrate using several different techniques, which mainly include:
- Dip Coating
- X-ray lithography
- Plasma spray
- Electrochemical deposition
- Chemical vapor deposition
- Magnetron sputtering
Nanotechnology is a field of research and innovation concerned with building ‘things’ – typically, materials and devices – on the scale of atoms and molecules. The ability to see nano-sized materials has opened up a world of possibilities in a variety of industries and scientific endeavors. Because nanotechnology is a set of techniques that allow manipulation of properties at a microscopic scale, it can have many applications:
- Interestingengineering.com – Nano Coating Technology Can Waterproof Device (most descriptive information about the NanoTint from this website)
- Nanoman.com.au – How Does it Work? (applications, how to apply)