A nanochemical construction kit for real innovation

Chemistry has always thought on a nano-level. The smallest particles, such as natural substances finely distributed in water, have been researched for many years. It was only at the end of the 90s, when technology had advanced far enough to analyse, characterise and synthesise nanostructures, that scientists started to see an entirely new set of possibilities.

Today, nano-structured materials have become part of our daily lives. They have developed to meet our requirements in the field of health, comfort and environmental conservation. The examples are endless: Researchers have developed nanosized zinc oxide particles into an effective sun protection filter. The particles filter and reflect the high-energy UV radiation in sunlight in a particularly efficient way. Specially treated pyrogenic silica improves the scratch resistance of paint, and prevents it from running during application.

Chemists are already managing to grow entire construction sets from molecules on a nanometre scale, for use in medical diagnostics. Chemists at the Ruhr University of Bochum, for example, have developed a complex nano-molecular construction kit. Once equipped with molecules, it is hoped that it will play an important role in medical analysis systems in the not-too-distant future. Electrotechnology also offers excellent opportunities for application.

The Institute for Chemistry at the University of Mainz has also been engaged in the functionalisation of minute particles. For example, gold and silver nanoparticles are to be researched for their use as markers for light-optical microscopes. The chemists are making use of the fact that the particles show interesting colour effects and act like small nano-antennae for light, scattering it widely.

Thanks to nanotechnology, concrete – the most important mass-produced building material of our time – is developing from a low-tech product into a high-tech one. New and highly efficient organic nano-additives form the basis for these developments, along with optimised binders. Structure made from these materials can be built in a way that is considerably lighter, more filigree and more durable, whilst simultaneously using less material and maintaining the same load capacity.

Chemistry: One of VCC’s investment markets.