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Posted: April 23, 2008
New nanotechnology products hitting the market at the rate of 3-4 per week
(Nanowerk News) New nanotechnology
consumer products are coming on the market at the rate of 3-4 per week, a
finding based on the latest update to the nanotechnology consumer product
inventory maintained by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN).
One of the new items among the more than 600 products now in the
inventory is Swissdent Nanowhitening Toothpaste with "calcium peroxides, in
the form of nano-particles." Today, in testimony before the Senate Commerce
Committee, PEN Project Director David Rejeski cited Ace Silver Plus --
another of the nine nano toothpastes in the inventory -- as an example of
the upsurge in nanotechnology consumer products in stores. The hearing
marks the start of U.S. Senate debate on the future direction of the annual
$1.5 million federal investment in nanotechnology research and development
The number of consumer products using nanotechnology has grown from 212
to 609 since PEN launched the world's first online inventory of
manufacturer-identified nanotech goods in March 2006. Health and fitness
items, which include cosmetics and sunscreens, represent 60 percent of
inventory products. The colorful and searchable list of nanotechnology
merchandise -- containing everything from nanotech diamonds and cooking
oil, to golf clubs and iPhones -- is available free at
There are 35 automotive products in the PEN inventory, including the
Hummer H2. General Motors Corporation bills the H2 as having a cargo bed
that "uses about seven pounds of molded-in-color nanocomposite parts for
its trim, center bridge, sail panel and box rail protector."
Nanoscale silver is the most cited nanomaterial used. It is found in
143 products or over 20 percent of the inventory. Carbon, including carbon
nanotubes and fullerenes, is the second highest nanoscale material cited.
Other nanoscale materials explicitly referenced in products are zinc
(including zinc oxide) and titanium (including titanium dioxide), silica
While polls show most Americans know little or nothing about
nanotechnology, in 2006 nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $50
billion in manufactured goods. By 2014, Lux Research estimates $2.6
trillion in manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology -- or about
15 percent of total global output. Despite a 2006 worldwide investment of
$12.4 billion in nanotech R&D, comparatively little was spent on examining
nanotechnology's potential environmental, health and safety risks.
"Public trust is the 'dark horse' in nanotechnology's future," says
Rejeski in his testimony. "If government and industry do not work to build
public confidence in nanotechnology, consumers may reach for the 'No-Nano'
label in the future and investors will put their money elsewhere."
According to Rejeski, "The use of nanotechnology in consumer products
and industrial applications is growing rapidly, with the products listed in
the PEN inventory showing just the tip of the iceberg. Public perceptions
about risks -- real and perceived -- can have large economic consequences.
How consumers respond to these early products -- in food, electronics,
health care, clothing and cars -- is a litmus test for broader market
acceptance of nanotechnologies in the future."