Coatings, adhesives, packaging and polymers are among the products now made with nanoparticles. Measuring less than 100 nanometers, nanomaterials of gold, silver or zinc have generated great interest in many industrial sectors.
The industrial interest in such materials comes from properties which are enhanced by their micro size. Nanomaterials are smaller than bulk materials and closer in size to molecules. The smaller the material, the more important its surface area becomes in determining its physical properties. Thanks to a higher percentage of atoms at their surface, nanomaterials increase the strength of the products in which they are found, offering many promising applications.
One of the major utilizations of nanomaterials is in optics. Exploiting the optical properties of the nanoparticles, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute came up with a new class of materials: colloidal nanocrystal quantum dot semiconductors. These particles can produce strong fluorescence, with emission wavelength dependent on size. They have applications in display technology.
Despite this promising aspect, materials chemists have to deal with an essential challenge: the synthesis of nanoparticles and their characterization. So are nanomaterials becoming standard industrial products? For the German particle size analysis specialist Sympatec, the technology is already there and offers endless possibilities.