Nanotechnology - the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale - manipulates matter to make complete, high performance products from consumer electronics to vehicle manufacture and even clothing.
A widespread shift in manufacturing is expected to occur in the near future to take advantage of the new devices, materials and potential for energy production that nanotechnology may bring. This is already happening in the information, communication and technology sector.
However there is currently a large gap between the laboratory uses of the unique properties of particles at the nanoscale, and the possibilities of producing them at industry scales.
New project targets large-scale production
The University of Bath has established an EPSRC and Royal Academy of Engineering-funded research project to focus on developing methods for the large-scale production of nanoparticles.
The project will combine low cost microfluidics with a nanoporous alumina membrane into a nanoparticle factory-on-a-chip, capable of high throughput production of nanoparticles with repeatable and controllable properties
The 'factory-on-a-chip' project is designed from the onset to be scalable for large volume production and targets the synthesis of nanomaterials where there is clear scientific and industrial interest.
Applications from fuel to face cream
By establishing methods for fabricating particles with consistent properties on a large scale, this research could potentially lead to exciting applications in all industry sectors, including:
- fuel additives
- composite materials for aeronautical applications
- sunscreen creams and cosmetics.
This research is also necessary for the development of an effective regulatory framework for the safe use of nanoparticles at a large scale in industry.