Saturday, October 23, 2004

Nanotech applications

In a basic application, NanoTex Co. has created nanoparticles that attach to cotton fibers and create a barrier that causes liquids and other substances to bead up rather than be absorbed by the cotton. The process is used by many clothing manufacturers, including Gap and Old Navy. The company has developed a coating that will help clothes absorb and neutralize body odors, giving clothes a fresh smell through repeat wearings.

Other products utilizing nanotechnology include:

Sunscreen: The use of microscopic metal oxide particles produces a clear sun-blocking lotion without the “white smear” caused by older technologies.
Cosmetics: L'Oreal, Esteé Lauder and other companies are making skin creams and other products with nanoparticles that penetrate deep into the skin, allowing more effective and longer-lasting delivery of vitamins and other agents.
Paints and coatings: Nanoparticles better protect surfaces from decay, scratches and corrosion, and window coatings reduce glare or provide greater insulation. Inframat, a firm in Farmington, Conn., says its nanotech ceramic coating prevents barnacles from adhering to ship hulls.
Silver antibacterials. [Nano-sized metals, such as gold, behave quite differently than larger sized particles. for example, “Responsible Development of Nanotechnology,” April 2, 2004, available at html/about/TeagueRegNNIConf04.html.]

Quantum dots are used in bio applications because they are small enough to pass through the leaky blood vessels found near cancerous cells and lodge near them. Shuming Nie has further boosted their detection skills by attaching cancer-finding antibodies to them. “Nanoprobes Are Destined for Major New Roles in Medicine,” Drug Week, March 19, 2004, p. 173.

Also: “2003 Nanotech Product Guide,” Nanotech Report, July 2003, p. 1. For a list of early patents in the fullerene area, see LB Ebert, Carbon, 1995, 33, 1010.

**The article by Barnaby J. Feder on nanotech is repeated at

As one point on the patent issue, note that buckyballs were probably synthesized in the 1960's by a group in the United States. Using a technique which we now know would make buckys, they reported an x-ray diffraction pattern distinct from graphite. Under the law set out in the Schering case, we know that for buckyballs to be anticipated by this work, it is not relevant that the workers in the 1960's did not understand that they had made a new form of carbon; it only matters that they did make a new form, which can be proved by experiments done at a later time, like 2004.


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