Nanotechnology in furniture

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Our colleagues of nanowerk have published a very good article about the use of nanotechnology in the furniture sector. Just like other industry sectors, the furniture industry is trying to get more efficient by minimizing material use, minimizing waste, and optimizing energy consumption while improving the performance of their products. Nanotechnology and nanomaterials can play an important role in achieving these goals. In the near future, using nanomaterials in furniture may lead to a reduced need for adhesives and functional textiles. Expect to see “smart” furniture – furniture that heats itself when it’s cold; becomes opaque when the sun is shining intensely; changes color upon demand; measures core body functions; has antibacterial coatings that get activated on contact or self-healing coatings to repair scratches and minor damage; has embedded electronics that for instance signals you when you run out of food supplies; or includes shape memory alloys that change their shape

Some of the materials which could be developed  in a near future are:

Glass: Over the last years, nanotechnology has been applied to develop and produce different types of glass, i.e. non-reflectivity glass, privacy-glass, thermal isolation glass (based on InfraRed light reflection or absorption) and biocidal glass. Researchers have already managed to develop “multifunctional” glass that is based on surface nanotextures that produce an array of conical features, is self-cleaning and resists fogging and glare.Not strictly furniture, but window glass provides a huge area for using nanotechnologies to improve functionality, for instance by generating electricity from outside heat.

Metal: Metal improvements using nanotechnology take place at the level of metal-structure modification or at the level of surface modification. A better control of the metal production process at the nanoscale of the material enables the fabrication of stronger, more durable metals. In furniture, no examples could be found to date. Surface modification of metals focuses on coloring, preservation against oxidation and corrosion and on improving scratch resistance.

Textiles: synthetic nanoparticles can be integrated into the fibres or the textile, or applied as a coating on the surface, therefore nanoparticles can be added to the nanoscale fibres or coating. Application areas for nanotechnology are easy-to-clean textiles, biocidal textiles (see for instance: “Innovative medical nanotechnology textiles eliminates bacteria”), or textiles from nano-cellulose, which enables the manufacturing of new environmentally friendly materials. More advanced nanotechnology applications would lead to electronic textiles, for instance e-textiles for biomonitoring and wearable electronics.

Adhesives: Nanomaterials that are described are based on silica or silane compounds that act as cross-linking agents within the adhesive polymer structure (i.e. to optimize the performance of the adhesive) or as a stabilizer of water based adhesives to fine tune the viscosity of the product.

Coatings: As nanomaterials are typically new and expensive and the majority of the furniture sector is a relatively conservative one, main movements in product development are observed in the application of nanocoatings. These nanocoatings typically make use of one nanomaterial to introduce a specific functionality and then change the coating base to allow for the application on a large variety of substrates.

Application areas for these nanocoatings are:

–scratch-resistant coatings

–anti-graffiti coatings

–easy-to-clean and water repellent coatings

–UV-protective coatings

–self-cleaning coatings

– bactericidal coatings


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Nanotechnology for water treatment

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Many developing countries are investigating how to improve access to clean water through nanotechnology, and in the last decade have worked hard in the lab with nanoparticles for water treatment. Brazil , China , India , Saudi Arabia and South Africa, for example, have centers dedicated to nanotechnology research where water treatment is studied.

Scientists have overcome the initial challenge of producing their own nanoparticles. But its effective use in the treatment of large-scale water is more difficult, and this aspect has not been taken advantage of the full potential of nanotechnology. While there are promising applications for domestic use, for example, researchers at the Atomic Research Center in Bombay (India )  progress in the production of water filters from carbon nanotubes , commercial products are still few and far between in the developing world , especially those who might acquire the poor.

However, they possess the unique properties of nanoparticles, making them especially suitable for treating waters, have the potential to improve processes such as adsorption, catalysis and disinfection. Usually have high catalytic ability: for example, when organic molecules degrade harmful to the environment, nano titanium dioxide gives much better results than conventional micron particles. Likewise, the nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and silver have greater disinfection power in the treatment of drinking water. Moreover, the nanoparticles can be designed to produce particles to measure for specific uses.

Considering the growing demand recorded in developing countries, the use of nanotechnology for clean water seems a viable alternative.

Thus, within the project CarbonInspired 2.0 prototype for demonstrating water treatment easy and simple effectiveness of the use of nanotechnology in the treatment of waste water so will develop. Ye may see the effectiveness of the prototype at various conferences to be held next year in SUDOE. For more information on dates and venues stay tuned to the blog and our informative newsletters.

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CarbonInspired 2.0 in the conference Materials and Nanostructures

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Adera attended the congress on Materials and Nanostructures π conjuguated (MPNC : organized on the lake bank of Annecy the october 7th to 11th 2013. This every two-year event gather the French scientific community working on the issue of conductive and semi-conductive polymers. Researcher or student had the opportunity to present their progress through lectures, oral communication and scientific posters. The event was organized around  4 main topics : chemical synthesis of material, supramolecular organization, physical, biological and electronic properties as well as the target applictaions.

During this week of presentation, Rescoll could show its own research conducted in the field by the funding of PhD dealing with synthesis and formulation of conductive inks based on polyaniline for jet ink printing. This was the opportunity to discuu with interested people and show our activities by the mean of a poster.


The article might be found following the link below as well as the poster presented :

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The kick of meeting of CarbonInspired 2.0 took place on July 17th in Galician Automotive Technology Centre (CTAG) facilities, located in O Porriño.

After the finalisation of the project CarbonInspired last year, the achieved results exceeded everyone’s expectations: after establishing one networking association with more than 314 participants, contacting with more than 1.300 enterprises, developing 3 industrial application prototypes, and a patent application; the industrial interest of nanotechnologies it’s more than evident. Due to the success obtained for the automotive and building industries, the consortium considered the option of continuing its activities for other industries and other types of nanoparticles. Finally, a new project was created, leaded by CTAG, CarbonInspired 2.0, which was launched last 1st July funded with FEDER funds within the Territorial Cooperation Programme IVB SUDOE.

The project reaps the results of its predecessor to transfer them to other industries and to involve all types of nanotechnologies. The networking will be increased, new prototypes focused to other sectors will be developed and training will be intensified trough a new-creation e-learning platform that allows the project to reach all Spanish, Portuguese and South French regions.

Enterprises can join the partners’ net through the website in order to be a free beneficiary of all these advantages.

On the other hand, as it happened in previous calls, the management authorities from the O.P. SUDOE arranged a Project Management Seminar in Santander, where the formal beginning of the approved projects was determined by the signature of the EFDR contract under the scope of the 4th project call.

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The use of nanotechnology may allow us to develop coatings which prevent surface wetting by water or by oil. This waterproofing capacity of the surfaces can make a material being clean against mud, being non colored with a paint, being dirt repellent, or is not affected by fouling….that is, does that the material could last lorger and in better condition.

There are a variety of commercial brands working with nanotechnology for this purpose. The following video corresponding to the brand Ever Ultra Dry is an amazing sample which shows what nanotechnology can do:


It worth watching!

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Two number one of the tennis, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova have incorporated the latest technology in their game using the HEAD racquet incorporating GRAPHENE.

Many consider that grapheme is the material of the future thanks to its many applications in industry. Graphene is a sheet of carbon one atom thick, in the flat configuration has extraordinary properties arising in the world of quantum physics. Among its most notable features, we highlight their extreme thinness and strength (200 times more than steel), to be a driver of electricity (such as copper) and more conductor of heat than any other known material.


The technology industry has already placed between their priorities the research on graphene. Proof of this is the recent award of a billion euros with which the European Union has decided to support studies on the possible applications of this material. Among them would be folding mobile phones, TV screens which could be rolled or most ambitious projects as lighter aircrafts, a new family of replacement batteries or silicon subtitution.


HEAD achieved applying graphene to the tennis industry, a use that has patented and that no other brand can benefit. HEAD has incorporated the use of graphene in their rackets. These rackets are usually employed by Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Maria Sharapova.


The novelty of the new rackets from HEAD is the redistribution of their weight. So far the weight of a racket unevenly distributed between the head and the handle as was the goal of getting more power or more control, but did not pay attention to the heart of the racket. Lighten that area or modify it, presented a risk as it is the one that supports the impact and twisting when the ball comes in contact with the racket.


HEAD, incorporating the use of graphene in the center, lightens the weight of the heart to pass either to the head or the handle as a function of the final objective. The result: same weight as the previous version but more efficient models and adapt to the player.


No doubt, the grapheme is always surprinsing us!


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Nanoparticles can clean up oil spills or remove contaminants from water or soils

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The application of nanotechnology seems limitless and currently several scientific papers are being developed showing that the application of certain nanoparticles is a very competent technology for environmental decontamination.

For example, oil spills at sea are a major environmental problem. A team of researchers at MIT has developed a method of separating oil from water using magnets. This technique would allow the oil being then reused, so as to offset the costs of cleaning. The proposed method involves adding to the mixture nanoparticles with iron and them, separate the oil using a magnet. The researchers suggest that this is a very simple maneuver but should, however, be performed in one vessel so that the nanoparticles do not pollute the ocean. In other works similar methods have been proposed but have the disadvantage that it was necessary to know the concentration of oil and water in the mixture. The proposed technique by placing the magnets into the stream, and not outside it, as in the above methods can be applied always with good results, regardless of the concentration of each component in the mixture.

In addition to cleaning up, various institutes have investigated different ways of using nanoparticles to reduce the concentration of contaminants in drinking water and wastewater. Studies have been conducted primarily with inorganic nanoparticles of Fe3O4, TiO2 and CeO2 or even carbonaceous nanoparticles. Taking advantage of the high surface area of the nanoparticles, experiments have been developed for the reduction by absorption of various contaminants such as metals Cr6 +, Pb2 + or phosphates. For some of them the percentage removal was close to 100%. Furthermore, the anchor of organic chains on the nanoparticles has also been proceeded with the aim of retaining the contaminant on the anchored molecule by absorption or by chemical reaction with it.

Nanoparticles are also useful for the remediation of contaminated soils. At present the number of contaminated sites is very high, especially in areas where industrial activity has been intense in recent years. This pollution is associated with various families of pollutants, such as pesticides, heavy metals, hydrocarbons. The properties of elemental iron nanoparticles made to react very efficiently with soil contaminants compounds degrading or altering its nature to make them less hazardous. This allows greater efficiency and speed in decontamination processes against other in-sites more conventional technologies. They are also versatile since they can be widely applied to the treatment of different types of pollutants with good results.

The results show that the nanoparticles have a real potential for use in environmental applications. In all cases, special attention has been paid to determine the effect that nanoparticles can cause in the environment where they are released. In the case that the nanoparticles have some toxicity, it is desirable to immobilize them on a suitable supports such as porous solids or develop suitable monitoring techniques in order to use nanoparticles in a controlled manner.

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During the last edition of the project CarbonInspired, it was organized in Madrid a workshop to present the new developments in the use of nanoparticles by various industrial sectors among the Spanish companies. The meeting was attended consolidated companies in the market that shared their successes in the field of nanotechnology with attendees. Between them, Acciona Infrastructures presented several current cases that had already implemented on site the technology studied in the laboratory. We focused our attention on a new cement using nanosilica to improve its properties, since in this case also there is a reduction in the final cost of the product that is very interesting for other companies.

The nanosilica is a nanoadditive based on spherical particles of silica with high purity manometric size, with a size distribution suitable. Their high power fluidization and its capacity to promote the evolution of resistance make it ideal for use in cement and concrete. The nanosilica has great plastication power and water reducing, zero or near zero permeability thereby increasing the durability of concrete, prevents segregation and bleeding and does not cause excessive delays setting. The chemical reactions in the concrete converted silica nanoparticles into nanoparticles of cement.The laboratory study performed showed that the nanosilica applied to the cement or concrete in a suitable ratio to provide the mixture improved rheological and mechanical properties. The addition of nanosilica improves CSH gel production and increases the rate of hydration. It also increases the size of the silicate chains, refilling holes and increasing the mechanical properties of the cement. This effect is greater at early ages due to the fact that the reaction is more energy because there is more portlandite generated at the beginning.

This laboratory study has been applied to a real case in the dome of a liquefied gas tank in Cartagena (Spain). This deposit requires:

  • Absence of shrinkage and cracks but high strength mechanical properties (¿high cement content?)
  • Sloping structure of 30 º. Low consistency to avoid segregation and concrete losses in the perimeter of the dome BUT good workability to fill the steel rebar.
  • Good superficial finish

The use of nanosilica compensates the lower amount of cement to be used and improve the rheology and workability of cement with low consistency. In addition, it is get an excellent surface finish without the presence of cracks. Furthermore, it achieves a 12% reduction in the use of materials which yields a substantial economic benefit.

For more information on this topic you can check the CarbonInspired project page, in the following link:


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With the advent of nanoscale materials, covering a range from 1-100 nm in size, it has arisen the need to measure sizes not accessible with conventional techniques. The classical metrology tools have reached their limits of resolution and accuracy. That’s why in recent years many instrumental techniques have been developed to achieve measuring what the human eye can not see. In the table below [1] you can find some of the most commonly used techniques and the sizes measured with them:

Atomic Force Microscopy dry, on a substrate 8.5 ± 0.3
Scanning Electron Microscopy dry, on a substrate 9.9 ± 0.1
Transmission Electron Microscopy dry, on a substrate 8.9 ± 0.1
Differential Mobility Analysis dry, aerosol 11.3 ± 0.1
Dynamic Light Scattering Suspension in a liquid 13.5 ± 0.1
Small-Angle X-ray Scattering Suspension in a liquid 9.1 ± 1.8

Despite the existence of these techniques, it is very difficult to measure at the nanoscale for various reasons. Firstly, due to the small scale that is handled. These small dimensions make tolerances smaller and even smaller uncertainties, thus the relationship accuracy uncertainty/dimension is very high. Moreover, there is little knowledge of the technical and metrological concepts, making complicated identify nanoobjects and remove errors or artifacts in the measurement.

One of the first steps to solve the problems with measurement techniques is to have basic standards for calibration in nanometrology, in all dimensions of analysis appropriate, so they can make accurate and repeatable measurements. Some of them have already appeared and its use is being standardized. Currently there are a number of European projects and calls focused on the development of measurement standards and new methods of measurement which gives an idea of the great importance attached to nanometrology in recent years. Advances in nanoscience, design of new materials and new manufacturing nanoproducts depend on the ability to measure nanoscale properties, accurately and reproducibly. This requires new methods of measurement instrumentation and validation.



[1] Centro Español de Metrología.

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Applications of carbon nanoparticles in the construction sector

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Carbon nanoparticles have excellent properties because of their high aspect ratio and chemical nature. One of the main uses of nanoparticles is as reinforcing agents or as functional fillers in other materials. Carbon nanoparticles can result in a reduction in material weight and in the obtaining of materials with higher impact strength, electrical conductivity, strength, thermal stability, flame resistance, dimensional stability,…

This enable the use of carbon nanoparticles and their composites in a wide variety of economic sectors: aerospace, construction, energy, cosmetics, electronics, textiles, …. The construction sector has not yet experienced a massive use of carbon nanoparticles because among other reasons it is a very competitive market which requires a high adjustment in the price of materials. In addition, new materials need to meet stringent construction standards so, often it requires a long time since the materials are developed until they reach the market. Poor knowledge of new materials for applicators also limits its application in high-grade work.

There are many applications where it is being studied the inclusion of carbon nanoparticles, such as insulating materials. Aerogels for example nowadays consist mainly in silica or carbon with 96% air. The inclusion of CNTs into the matrix makes possible to obtain a material with an insulating structure but with electrical properties, maintaining the elasticity of the material.

Nanoparticles are also suitable for the development of structural materials. They may be used in cement and concrete. Until now there have not been reported such commercial products with nanoparticles but it is believed that CNTs can prevent the propagation of cracks and improve its mechanical properties.

The fire resistant properties of polymeric materials in construction can be also improved by the inclusion of nanoparticles as CNTs, CNF or graphene. In case of fire, these structures would move towards the surface at rising temperatures and form a network that, apart from maintaining the structural integrity of the polymer, will form part of a barrier to protect the interior insulating material.

A field of application where the carbon nanoparticles can have a major impact is the development of sensors for detecting temperature, humidity, stress and strain, toxic substances…. and domotic systems or lighting. In this field, early developments are being appeared but it is expected they continue in the coming years to expand. Thus, while nanotechnology is emerging at the current state, it is expected to experience a significant development in the coming years.

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