Nanotechnologies have the potential to offer a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits. We’re committed to capturing these benefits in a safe and socially responsible way.
Tiny science, with big potential
Nanoparticles (or nanomaterials) are extremely small chemicals or objects with dimensions of 1-1000 nanometres. That's about an 8,000th of a human hair in width or equal to one billionth of a metre.
Nanomaterials occur naturally in our environment, in things like clay, volcanic ash, ocean spray and even milk. They can also be manufactured for use in a range of everyday commercial products.
The prevalence of manufactured nanoparticles is increasing and new developments have led to significant advances across a broad range of applications including electronic, medical, and environmental.
Nanoparticles may be more conductive, stronger, or more chemically reactive than larger particles of the same substance. That means smaller amounts of the chemical in nano form can be used to achieve the same effects, making a product cheaper, or the same quantities can be used to create an enhanced product.
Paving the way to new products
Through development of new products and processes, nanotechnology will potentially contribute solutions to major issues facing Australia, including:
- renewable energy sources
- increased strength in our manufacturing industries
- secure water supplies
- improved human health and wellbeing
- a more sustainable environment.
There are a large range of products using nanomaterials that are available on the market.
- car wax that doesn't scratch your car
- environmentally-friendly motor oil
- remineralising toothpastes that repair your teeth and fight plaque.
Nanosafety and our research
Nanotechnologies have the potential to offer significant contributions to human health, the environment and Australian industry.
Yet, many of the same novel characteristics that make nanomaterials promising for new manufacturing opportunities could also present new risks to humans or the natural environment.
We are committed to capturing the benefits of nanotechnologies in a safe and socially responsible way.
We undertake nanotechnology research in areas as diverse as environmental sensing technology, water purification and desalination, flat solar cells and nutritionally enhanced food ingredients.
We are also investigating the health and safety aspects of using nanotechnology, and its impact on the environment, helping to inform Australian Government policy and regulation relating to nanotechnologies and nanomaterials with safety in mind.
Our work in the area focuses on nanoparticles and their effects in the workplace, on human health and on the world we live in.
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Nanosafety: the big picture
What are nanoparticles?
- Chemicals or objects 1-100 nanometres
- That's about an 8,000th of a human hair width
- They have unique characteristics
Nanoparticles occur naturally in the environment
- Volcanic ash
- Ocean spray
They are also manufactured for use in everyday products:
- Next-gen computer chips
- Medical implants
- Sunscreens and cosmetics
- Sporting equipment
Why do we need to research nanosafety?
- Nanoparticles can be more conductive, stronger or chemically reactive than larger particles of the same substance.
- The properties that make nanomaterials promising for manufacturing could also present new, unknown risks.
- Our research seeks to find out what potential effects nanoparticles have in the workplace, on human health and on the world.
- This research helps to inform Australian Government policy regulators.
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