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Home > Press > How our everyday items can work that little bit better

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Scientists from across the world have come together at a conference organised by The University of Manchester to examine how nanotechnology can improve everyday household essentials such as food, medicine and cosmetics.

How our everyday items can work that little bit better

UK | Posted on July 28th, 2010

Scientists from across the world have come together at a conference organised by The University of Manchester to examine how nanotechnology can improve everyday household essentials such as food, medicine and cosmetics.

The €1.7 million EU funded InForm project, which involves 17 world-leading research institutions, are working together to make everyday items - such as nappies or sun cream - work more effectively.

The ground-breaking work, known as formulation science, could lead to safer, more effective and more stable household goods giving increased value for money and performance.

The food industry can also benefit by using nanomaterials to encapsulate flavours and nutrients making food both tasty and healthy.

Held in Stockholm, Sweden, last month, the NanoFormulation2010 conference brought together 17 research institutions from international names such as Bayer CropScience and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras to share their latest advances.

Many of the products that make our lives more comfortable, safer and enjoyable, such as household and personal care products, foods and pharmaceuticals now contain nanomaterials to make them stable or help them work better.

Delegates visited a leading industrial research institute, YKI Institute for Surface Chemistry, to hear about nanotechnological research in Sweden.

Research talks spanned from internationally recognised companies, who use nanocomposites to manufacture light weight, high strength and fire retardant materials, to small companies building more efficient solar cells to generate electricity.

Organiser Dr Helen Dutton, from The University of Manchester's School of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science, said: "Transparent high factor sunscreen lotions contain nanoparticles too small to scatter visible light but they still block UV wavelengths, protecting us from sunburn.

"Pharmaceutical firms have developed smart materials for targeted drug delivery, and nanoparticles in textiles can protect them from wear or give bacteria-killing properties to kitchen wipes, nappies and surface cleaners.

"The problem with nanomaterials is that you can't just look at them under a microscope and expect them to have a smooth consistency or behave like conventional liquids, creams or fabrics. Formulating nanomaterials is complex".

"Bringing scientists together from different research backgrounds and institutions gives them the opportunity to understand the fundamental science behind nanomaterials as ingredients in formulated products and learn about the manufacturing challenges and environmental implications of these materials.

"The stable mixtures in products like shampoos that our partner companies eventually produce may be based on repeated cycles of measurements and testing, often simply the experience of the formulator."

The InForm project is funded until June 2012 by the European Commission through the European Union Framework 7 programme, and links researchers from Europe, USA and Asia-Pacific working in academia, public research laboratories and industry. InForm's next conference NanoFormulation2011 will be held in Singapore from 26 June - 1 July 2011.

InForm activities include six thematic lines of fundamental importance in formulations, using scientific and technical forums, networking events, fact finding missions and technical workshops to share information and experience.

A researcher exchange program also seeds new collaborations between partners in different world regions. The project is coordinated at The University of Manchester.

The 6 thematic lines are:

• Formulation of Nano-Biomaterials
• Handling and Processing of Nanopowders
• Process technologies for nanoparticle and nanoemulsion formulation
• Physical chemistry at the nanoscale
• Smart and Functional Materials in Formulations: Coatings, Films and Tapes
• Safety and Health Effects of Nanoscale Materials

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Daniel Cochlin
Media Relations Officer
The University of Manchester
Tel 0161 275

Copyright © University of Manchester

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