Applications & Risks
- The main industrial application of nanoparticles is in catalysis due to their high surface area to volume ratios.
- Titanium dioxide is a good example of how the same chemical has different properties in bulk and nanoparticle form.
- Titanium dioxide in nanoparticle form is used in sunscreens as it blocks UV light but leaves no white marks on the skin while also providing better coverage than other suncreams.
- The same chemical in bulk form is used as a white pigment in paints.
- Fullerenes are used in medicine and drug design as they are more easily absorbed than other particles and can deliver drugs to target areas more effectively.
- Fullerenes are also used in electronic circuitry and as coatings for artificial limbs and joints.
- Nanoparticles of silver are sprayed onto the fibres of medical clothing and surgical masks which gives them the flexibility of a material but with the added benefit of the antibacterial properties of silver metal.
- The use of nanoparticles in science is in its early stages so there are still a lot of unknown factors and potential risks.
- In particular there is a lack of understanding on how they may affect health.
- Although there haven’t been any serious short term side effects, there could be long term side effects which we haven’t detected yet as they haven’t been in use long enough.
- Even a small amount of toxicity in a particular nanoparticle would be multiplied due to the high surface area to volume ratio.
- This coupled with the fact that they are not easily disposed of by the body are a cause for caution in the medical application of nanoparticles.
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Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.