Nanotech in the Home: What Are the Possibilities?

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The following contribution is from another author.

Nanotech is the technology of the very small. It’s about building materials atom by atom into larger structures with useful properties that can be deployed in everything, from our cars to our bodies. So far, we haven’t seen many explicitly “nanotech” products, but they are on their way to market as we speak.

Graphene is by far the most famous of all nanotech products in development. The graphite derivative – a single sheet of carbon molecules arranged into a hexagonal lattice – is 200 times stronger than steel, weight for weight, a perfect conductor of electricity, transparent (even though graphite is black) and bendable. The applications in consumer electronics and heavy industry are almost endless, but there’s another place that we could see graphene soon pop up: the home.

But where exactly? How could nanotech help to transform our homes into something fundamentally new?

Eliminating All Contaminants From Tap Water

As the residents of Flint, Michigan, know all too well, public water supplies aren’t always free from contaminants. But the problem of toxins isn’t limited to this small town in the Rust Belt: you can find toxic products in practically all publicly-supplied water in the US. Granted, the levels of things like mercury and cadmium aren’t high enough cause immediate problems, but most people would rather have these metals out of their bodies rather than in.

Current water filters are pretty good at getting rid of these particles. But in the future, it will be possible to design filters on an atomic level with the chemical properties to allow water to pass through while preventing larger, heavy metal molecules from doing the same. At the moment, filters can only filter out particles sizes down to a minimum resolution, and so many will still let very small toxins run through into your water supply.

Easy-Clean Kitchen Surfaces

Some modern sofas already have a “scorch-guard” – a thin coating which protects the material below from burning. But soon we could see similar technology showing up on kitchen surfaces. The idea is to apply a thin layer of titanium dioxide nanoparticles to a worktop which will prevent any water or stains from penetrating the material. Theoretically, you would no longer have to coat wooden work surfaces in a layer of plastic to prevent food waste from seeping through and rotting the wood. All you’d need to do would be treat the countertop with nanoparticles, and it will keep water out and provide anti-scorch protection,

The End Of Insect Invasions

At the moment, our homes are essentially vast hives waiting to be occupied. All sorts of six- and eight-legged friends want to use our homes for their warmth and relative safety from predators, according to www.animalcontrolspecialists.com. Nanotechnology, however, promises to prevent all of this.

One of the problems with existing insect defense systems is that they rely on conventional materials. Insects have powerful jaws, and so they are usually able to make their way through these materials and into the inside of your home. The moment one filter fails, the rest are useless.

Nanotechnology, however, promises to change all this. Nanomaterials can be manufactured to be much stronger than regular filters and yet just as light and cheap. Nanomaterials prevent you from having to line your home with potentially toxic chemicals or one-inch-thick panels of lead.

Capture Malodorous Chemicals In The Washing

Throughout the day, our clothes capture and store thousands of particles from the environment. Some of those particles are essentially harmless, like dead skin cells, but others could be toxic, like diesel emissions or particles from cigarette smoke.

Currently, those particles slosh around in the washing machine when you wash your clothes. But nanotechnology in washing powder is now changing all that. Some washing powders contain zeolites, according to www.theconversation.com, a type of particle that has many porous holes. When these particles come into contact with debris in your clothing, they capture them in cage-like structures, preventing them from being released back into the washing.

Better Door Security

If you want a secure front door today, you have to buy something seriously heavy duty. Often a secure front door means sacrificing aesthetics for safety. These things are thick and heavy.

But with nanotechnology, that could all change. In the future, there may no longer be a need to increase weight to increase strength: materials could be engineered with strength from the ground up.

We already see the rise of nano-engineered materials in sports equipment. Some bicycles, for instance, now use graphene flakes in the frame to improve rigidity and reduce weight. And golf clubs also use graphene to enhance the feel of the club as it swings through the ball.

But ultimately, if scientists can figure out how to make graphene at scale, we could see much more secure doors, and door surrounds. The hope is that doors, and their frames will be so strong that forcing a door will no longer be possible – at least not without mechanical assistance from a machine.

Exterior Paintwork That Doesn’t Fade

One of the problems with exterior paintwork is that it will inevitably fade over time. UV rays from the sun damage the pigment, causing it to yellow and dull, losing its luster. But scientists are now working on special nanotechnology that can provide paint with UV protection, keeping your garage or shed looking its best for many years to come. The hope is that the nanomaterial will reflect UV rays away from the underlying paint, protecting it so that it lasts longer.

Clothes That Don’t Smell

Can you imagine wearing a pair of socks that don’t smell after a week? Probably not. But science is finding ways to prevent the small particles which cause smells from ever entering the fibers of the material. The idea is to add silver nanoparticles which kill bacteria as they come into contact with the material, preventing them from throwing off smelly waste products. Even today, we see the early iterations of products like these, so the era of having to change your clothes on a regular basis might be coming to an end.



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