Applications of Nanoparticles

Before delving into the various applications of nanoparticles, let's throw some light on their definition first. Nanoparticles are particles of very small size, measuring between 1 to 100 nanometer. Owing to their very small sizes, these particles can be used for manipulating light, fighting cancer and carrying electrons in a manner that can't be possibly achieved by either bulk macro scale materials or individual atoms.
Following are some of the many different applications of nanoparticles:

Few applications of nanoparticles in medicine

  • Polymer coated iron oxide nanoparticles are used for breaking up bacteria clusters, enabling better treatment of chronic bacterial infections.

  • Polymeric micelle nanoparticles are used for easy delivery of drugs to tumours.

  • Nanoparticles are in use for early diagnosis of atherosclerosis in patients. Researchers have successfully developed an imaging technology for measurement of the antibody-nanoparticle complex which accumulates particularly in plaque. This way, clinical scientists are able to monitor the plaque development and its disappearance post-treatment too.

  • Gold nanoparticles are being used in early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

Use of nanoparticles in day-to-day materials and processes

Nanoparticles are being effectively used in making more durable, lighter and stronger materials. These materials can also be made better electrical conductors, more sieve like and more reactive through incorporation of nanoparticles. Following are some ways in which

  • Fabrics that are surface-treated with or added with nanoparticles become resistant to bacterial growth, staining and wrinkling. Another use of nanoparticles in this regard is in providing lightweight ballistic energy deflection in the personal body armour.

  • These particles are in active use as additives in the polymer composite materials meant for automobile bumpers, power tool housings, bike helmets, tennis rackets and baseball bats as they have the ability of making these materials more resilient, durable, strong and lightweight.

  • The use of nanoparticles in various cosmetic products provide these products with better coverage or clarity apart from making them cleaner, antimicrobial and better absorbable.

  • Nanoparticles have various positive properties in regard to their application in cleansers, lotions, specialised make-up, shampoos, creams and complexion treatments.

  • Nanoparticles are being increasingly used in the form of catalysts for boosting the chemical reactions. Their usage reduces the amount of catalytic materials required for production of desired results. They also save money and reduce pollutants. Couple of their major applications in this field are as automotive catalytic converters and in petroleum refining.

Applications of nanoparticles in sustainable energy solutions

  • The prototype solar panels equipped with nanotechnology have better efficiency compared to the standard designs when it comes to the effective conversion of sunlight into electricity. The nanostructured solar cells are cheaper in production and can be installed pretty easily as they can be created with print-like manufacturing processes, and produced in the form of flexible rolls instead of discrete panels.

  • Nanoparticles are already helping in enhancement of fuel production from the low-grade and normal petroleum materials via better catalysis. They're also improving the fuel consumption efficiency in various power plants and vehicles by decreasing friction and increasing the combustion efficiency.

  • Nanotechnology is used in creation of various types of batteries which are lighter in weight, quick charging, less flammable and more efficient. These batteries can hold electrical charges for longer and have higher power density.