There is an often-asked question: 'When are we finally going to start seeing nanotechnology products on the market?' As a matter of fact, the average home is already filled with products enhanced or reliant upon nanotechnology. In fact, there are several online repositories listing the more than 2,000 commercially available products that incorporate nanotechnology. The application of nanotechnology in some areas, such as batteries, microelectronics and sunscreens is relatively well known. Let's take a virtual tour through a home to see what else we can find.
Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are the most poisonous substances known to humans, with a median lethal dose (LD50) of 1ng per kg of body weight and are the cause of the life-threatening neuroparalytic illness botulism. Recent assays are very promising for practical use, they require expensive and technically complex equipment. Meeting a need for further development of assays for detection of BoNTs, researchers now have developed a nanopore-based assay for detection of BoNT-B.
White-light-emitting diodes have many advantages over forms of lighting - incandescent, fluorescent and halogen - and this solid-state lighting technique is bound to make major inroads into the commercial and household markets. Researchers have now designed precursors and chemical processes to synthesize intercrossed carbon nanomaterials with relatively pure hydroxy surface states for the first time, which enable them to overcome the aggregation-induced quenching (AIQ) effect, and to emit stable yellow-orange luminescence in both colloidal and solid states.
Impurities during the production process of liquid crystal devices result in mobile ions that influence the LCs' field-induced switching phenomena, resulting in a phenomenon called image sticking, or ghosting. Researchers now have developed a method to reduce the presence of excess ions by doping LCDs with ferroelectric nanoparticles. They demonstrate that this reduction of free ions has coherent impacts on the LC's conductivity, rotational viscosity, and electric field-induced nematic switching.
Electrochromic devices are some of the most attractive candidates for paper-like displays, so called electronic paper, which will be the next generation display. Researchers have now demonstrated solid state flexible polymer based electrochromic devices are fabricated continuously by stacking layers in one direction. This novel bottom-up approach with no need for a lamination step enables fully printed and 2D patterned organic electrochromics.
In order to fabricate entirely flexible electronic devices, the components that power them - such as batteries - not only need to be fully flexible as well but they have to be compatible with commercially available manufacturing technologies. This would require achieving a high degree of deformability without using elastomeric materials. Researchers have now demonstrated the fabrication of a highly deformable lithium-ion battery using standard electrodes and commercially standard packaging technologies.
Their unique combinations of liquid and solid-like properties allow liquid crystals to be used pervasively in the electro-optical display technology - known as liquid crystal display (LCD). In new work, researchers have observed that a dilute suspension of a small amount of multi-walled carbon nanotubes in a nematic liquid crystal (in the nematic LC phase the molecules are oriented in parallel but not arranged in well-defined planes) results in a significantly faster nematic switching effect on application of an electric field.
Researchers have exploited the extraordinary electrical and mechanical properties of graphene to create a very efficient electrical/sound transducer. This experimental graphene loudspeaker, without any optimized acoustic design, is simple to make and already performs comparably to or better than similar sized commercial counterparts, and with much lower power consumption. Most speakers available today reproduce sound via a mechanical diaphragm, which is displaced oscillatorily during operation. A wide-band audio speaker typically requires significant damping to broaden the response. Even without optimization, the graphene speaker is able to produce frequency response across the whole audible region, comparable or superior to performance of conventional-design commercial counterparts.