Commercial activity is heating up in nanocomposites, with a growing number of commercial applications, University of Akron Professor Lloyd Goettler told an SPE-Antec audience.
Calling nanocomposites ``a very viable material,'' Goettler identified several everyday products that use the tiny materials. ``Nano'' means a billionth, so a nanometer is one billionth of a meter.
Nanocomposites are being used for a barrier layer in PET beer bottles, in film for food packaging and automotive parts, among other applications, he said.
``This technology has gone beyond what's in our mind, what's in our laboratories. It's out there,'' Goettler said.
Goettler, is director of the University of Akron's Institute of Polymer Engineering.
He gave a short course in Nano 10. The act of reducing microscale particles down to the smaller nanoscale can give the particles new properties, such as electrical conductivity, he said. Other attributes of nanosized particles can include flame resistance and greater stiffness.
Despite the headline-grabbing attention focused on nanotechnology these days, Goettler pointed out that using nanoparticles in industry is not a new idea. He cited carbon black used in rubber molding and silicates.
But now research and investment money is flowing to nanocomposites. Patent activity is brisk. Public awareness is growing. Goettler said prices will come down as the technology becomes more understood.
``It has a very, very rosy future,'' he said.