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Nano Technology in Automotive Industry

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Nano technology in the automotive industry:-
What is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is the engineering of materials on the scale of 1 nanometer (nm) to 100 nm, a nanometer being 1 billionth of a meter. At this level, the basic physical laws governing macro objects undergo a drastic change. A macro particle is a cluster of atoms arranged together in random order. The formation of the structure is left to nature, and control over the properties of the material is difficult. Nanotechnology, on the other hand, is a bottom-up approach where materials are created by placing individual atoms together. This decreases the randomness in the structural formation, enabling significant control over the properties of the material. Mechanical properties such as strength, ductility, and resilience can all be incorporated into one material.

Currently, nanotechnology is functioning as an enabling technology. It is being used to enhance the properties of existing materials. This is largely attributed to the fact that the technology has clearly not been understood and there is still much more to nanotechnology than meets the microscopic eye.
It is rare for a single technology to have the power to dramatically influence almost every major industry in the world. Nanotechnology falls into this category and offers fundamentally new capabilities to architect a broad array of novel materials, composites and structures on a molecular scale. This technology has the potential to drastically redefine the methods used for developing lighter, stronger, and high-performance structures and processes with unique and non-traditional properties. This paper focuses on some of the automotive applications for nanotechnology and showcases a few of them that are believed to have the highest probability of success in this highly competitive industry. No discussion of nanotechnology is complete without touching upon its health and environmental implications. This paper addresses some of the safety issues and the precautions that we as an automotive industry need to take in the production, processing, storage and handling of such minute particles. The goal of this paper is to raise the awareness on the promise of nanotechnology and the potential impact it will have on the future of the automotive industry.

What is the use of nanotechnology in Automobile?
In future because of this tiny technology the materials used in cars will replaced by the nano materials, which will reduse the weight of the Car but it is strong enough like as of current materials. Because of this weight loss the efficiency of the Car will increase it will reduce the emissions.

Will Rodgers, director of General Motors' Materials and Process Laboratory, said his company has used nano materials on several vehicles. The center console for the Chevrolet HHR compact wagon, for example, uses high-tech plastic.

In Future the windshield is coated with the material that fills the microscopic nooks and crannies on windshields, making those surfaces perfectly smooth. When a person drives during a rainstorm, the rain naturally falls away, reducing or even eliminating the need for wipers. So this windshield resists water, dirt, salt and bird droppings.
Nanotechnology Unfolds Futuristic Green Cars

Recently, automakers have unleashed their environment-friendly concept cars that are expected to be manufactured using nanotechnology. The latter is a technology of building tiny machines using functional systems at a molecular scale. According to experts, nanotechnology, in its original sense, means projected ability to assemble items from the bottom up, utilizing techniques and tools being developed these days to make complete, high performance products.

Nanotechnology in the automotive industry:-

Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at a molecular scale. This technology is indispensable because many common substances have different and useful properties when reduced in size. It promises to improve the performance of existing technologies significantly.
“Nanotechnology is expected to be a key driver for innovation in the automotive industry,” says Wijia Xie, an industry analyst from research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
“The technology has a wide variety of applications in many vehicle components, including the car body, windows, tires, control system, catalytic converter, and engine systems,” Xie adds.
“The application of nanotechnology is usually done so as to significantly improve the safety, comfort, efficiency and eco-friendliness of future generation cars.”
Indeed, there are a number of processes and products enhanced by nanomaterials that are making an impact in the automotive industry.
These include nanocomposites incorporating a variety of materials for structural reinforcement and safety; nanoparticle catalysts for fuel economy; nanoadditives for lubricants; and easy-clean, anti-fogging, anti-abrasion, anti-corrosion and self-repairing coatings. Companies like Toyota, General Motors, Ford and Rolls-Royce are all taking a lead in developing technologies in these areas.
Over the past decade, one of the most significant technological developments in the plastics industry has been in the use of nanocomposite materials.
Nanocomposites are stiffer, lighter and less brittle in cold temperatures than conventional plastics. They exhibit properties that are greatly different from macroscopic composites and have been shown to yield multiple benefits at relatively low cost compared to traditional methods of plastic enhancement, such as polymerisation.
“Exatec and DuPont developed scratch-resistant coatings for cars with polymer nanocomposite or metal oxide nanoparticles that provide excellent anti-scratch properties against hard-object impacts,” says Xie.
In 2002, General Motors used nanocomposite technology with thermoplastic olefins, thus opening up a whole new area of commercialisation.
The advanced thermoplastic nanocomposite part was used on the maker’s GMC Safari and Chevrolet Astro mid-size vans. It was the first automotive exterior application of this lightweight, high-performance and affordable material. Other automotive parts that have been developed from the material include exterior door and rear quarter panels. The plastic enables these items to spring back into shape following low-speed impacts.

Nanoparticle technology is being used in the automotive industry to protect engines and enable them to perform better.
Ford, for example, is using a device called the Local Electrode Atom Probe to conduct research into making metals and plastics lighter and stronger. The device works at the atomic scale and is useful for removing atoms from metallic surfaces and locating the atom position on those surfaces.
Nanoparticles are also being used as ‘fillers’ for metals and plastics to increase the strength of produced materials and reduce their weight in the process. Ford’s ‘Atoms to Engines’ team looked at the structure of cast aluminium alloys at near atomic levels. A detailed analysis of the structure, property and process relationship of the aluminium alloy engine blocks led to reduced engine weight, which in turn resulted in increased fuel efficiency.
Researchers are looking into ways in which Nanoparticles can be added to glass and paints to enable them to better withstand radiation and provide self-cleaning mechanisms.
Nanostructured surfaces result in improved paint adhesion and colour durability. It is no surprise then the Ford Motor Company has predicted that by 2015, nanomaterials will be used in 70 percent of its production materials. The move could likely position the company as a leader of the automotive industry once again. This is how big it is.


(Nano work Spotlight) Nanotechnologie Acura FCX 2020 Le Mans: fast. The Le Mans looks like the Batmobile, but uses lightweight, recyclable materials. A hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrain propels it to take on a future 24 Hours of Le Mans, while molecular nanotechnology allows lightweight construction.

Thumbs down: Drivers must lie flat on their stomachs.

Thumbs up: Motors in each wheel assist the hydrogen powertrain, effectively creating AWD.

Audi Dynamic Space Frame: The Space Frame has built-in channels to facilitate an elaborate drive-by-fluid system. That’s right: Instead of a traditional mechanical linkage between the steering and the wheels, there’s a fluid coupling. The car’s suspension also features liquid portions that are electrically charged to alter the car’s ride.


Thumbs up: The minimal overhangs and gigantic wheels project an athletic stance.
Thumbs down: The suspension concept exists today, but the fluid driveshaft seems like a giant torque converter – hardly the stuff of efficiency.

Hummer O2:
GM’s California design studios say the O2 has a net positive effect on the environment thanks to its algae-filled panels, which turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. Other features include a fuel cell drivetrain and parts made from post-consumer recycled materials.

Thumbs up: Hydraulic motors power all four wheels, and carbon dioxide from each motor is routed toward the algae.
Thumbs down: The algae need to be changed annually. We doubt Jiffy Lube will offer a $29.99 special.
Honda Extreme:
Honda’s Extreme can take on different forms – from a pickup truck to a low-slung sports car – thanks to interchangeable body panels. After five years, the polycarbonate chassis can be recycled.

Thumbs up: Evolving body styles on the same car? Sign us up.
Thumbs down: Sheet-metal makeovers come courtesy of Honda Sustainability Centers, which look like miniature airport terminals with hokey status readouts like “transforming” and “transformation complete.”

Mercedes-Benz RECY:
The RECY, an open-air roadster that looks like it took a few cues from the 1980s SL, offers wood, alloy, glass and rubber materials said to be 100 percent recyclable. A BlueTec diesel engine provides power. Design inspiration came from wooden yachts and sunglasses, Mercedes says.

Thumbs up: Unlike many objects of automotive inspiration, these things actually show up in the concept. The two-frame windshield looks like a pair of Oakleys, and the body has a nautical profile.
Thumbs down: A long aluminum brace splits the two seats. Seems like it could put a crunch on shoulder room.
MINI Biomoke:
The Biomoke sports biodegradable paneling infused with palm tree seeds. When the car expires, the panels compost and the seeds sprout. There are no windows – Mini says the open-air cockpit is best for Southern California’s temperate climate. And like Mini’s real cars, the Biomoke’s exterior can be customized to fit its owner’s tastes.

Thumbs up: It looks like a genuine dune buggy, so it’s sure to be a hit at the beach.
Thumbs down: We’re all for minimizing waste, but having detachable recycling bins inside the cabin seems a bit overboard.

Toyota RLV:
The Renewable Lifestyle Vehicle seats two, one behind the other. Power comes from an electric powertrain or bicycle-style pedals, the latter for situations like bumper-to-bumper traffic. A pop-up roll cage and active headrests aim to protect occupants during a rollover, and the floorboard is made from bamboo and aluminum.

Thumbs up: Pedaling recharges the battery, and the wheels telescope outward for better high-speed stability.
Thumbs down: Since you’re giving him a lift, there ought to be an extra set of pedals for the passenger.
Volkswagen Nanospyder:
The Nanospyder uses billions of spore-like nanobots – complete with eyeballs, mouths and tiny VW logos – that bind together to create the vehicle. Impending collisions can be picked up by the lead bots, and the information can be sent elsewhere to bolster certain sections of the vehicle.

Thumbs up: Hands down, Nanospyder is the coolest name here.
Thumbs down: Stability depends on these little critters getting along. What happens when you’re doing 65 on an overpass and the bots holding the wheels together decide to mutiny?

Volkswagen Nano spyder futuristic concept car anytime soon. This entrance to the 2006 Los Angeles Design challenge was supported by hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, wheel-mounted electric motors and inflatable organic body panels combine to form the unusual shape of the two-seater concept. According to its creators – designers based at the Volkswagen Design Center in Santa Monica – the Nano spyder would be formed out of a latticework of billions of tiny programmable nano devices measuring less than half a millimeter in diameter. Each of these tiny devices can be programmed to be as strong or weak as required meaning active crumple zones can be created. Clothing the nano-lattice are panels formed out of a mix of organic materials some of which can inflate to provide further cushioning in the result of an impact. The material doubles as a power source as polysynthesis generates small amounts of electricity. This coupled with hydrogen fuels generates power to drive the tiny electric motors mounted within the hubs of all four wheels.

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The automotive sector is a major consumer of material technologies – and nanotechnologies promise to improve the performance of existing technologies significantly. Applications range from already existing – paint quality, fuel cells, batteries, wear-resistant tires, lighter but stronger materials, ultra-thin anti-glare layers for windows and mirrors – to the futuristic – energy-harvesting bodywork, fully self-repairing paint, switchable colors, shape-shifting skin.The basic trends that nanotechnology enables for the automobile are

 lighter but stronger materials (for better fuel consumption and increased safety)
 improved engine efficiency and fuel consumption for gasoline-powered cars (catalysts; fuel additives; lubricants)
 reduced environmental impact from hydrogen and fuel cell-powered cars
 improved and miniaturized electronic systems
 better economies (longer service life; lower component failure rate; smart materials for self-repair)

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Applications of nanotechnologies in automobiles:

Figure Automotive applications of nanotechnology
The most promising automotive applications of nanotechnology include the following:
• Improved materials with CNTs, graphene and other nanoparticles/structures
• Improved mechanical, thermal, and appearance properties for plastics
• Coatings & encapsulants for wear and corrosion resistance, permeation barriers, and appearance
• Cooling fluids with improved thermal performance
• Joining interfaces for improved thermal cycle and crack resistance
• Metal alloys with greater mechanical strength
• Metal matrix and ceramics with improved mechanical properties
• Solder materials with crack resistance or lower processing temperature
• Displays with lower cost and higher performance
• Batteries for electric vehicles and fuel cells with improved energy capacity
• Automotive sensors with nano-sensing elements, nanostructures and nano-machines
• Hybrid electric vehicles using electrical interconnects for high-frequency and high-power applications
• Electrical switching including CNT transistors, quantum transistors, nano-electro-mechanical switches, electronemission amplification, and more efficient solar cells
• Self-assembly using fluid carriers
When people think about technologies, they often either think of computers or automobiles. So whenever nanotechnology gets discussed, it always becomes necessary to say how it will impact our automobiles.

1. NANO-WIPE - Invisible Wiper
We all know how limited our view is while driving during heavy rain. Raindrops pushing windscreen wipers to the limits of their performance. Additionally water sprayed by wheels of other vehicles, makes driving even more dangerous.
Problem was tackled by German scientists, who invented permanent hydrophobic nano-coating for glass surfaces.
As result of cooperation with German scientists came up with NANO-WIPE.
NANO-WIPE is a ready-to-use set which modifies glass surfaces into super-hydrophobic that means that raindrops fall away leaving windscreen dry. Driving even during heavy rain doesn't require use of the windscreen wipers.
Good visibility is a critical safety issue while driving, NANO-WIPE and ANTI-FOG make driving safer. ADVANTAGES: a. Long solution endurance up to 1 year or ca. 10 000 miles b. At the speed of 60 km/h there is no need to use wipers- air resistance removes rain drops c. Better visibility during rainfall (enhanced for 34%) and reacting time during driving by 25% (proved by University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute) d. Easiness of removing dirt ("easy-to-clean" effect) i.e. insects, mud, dust, snow and frost e. Relatively little costs of the product compared to its advantages (economy in wipers use, windscreen washer and rare use of car wash)

2. ANTI-FOG for Car Windows Autumn and winter are seasons when humidity is often so high that vapour immediately condenses on the inside surface of car windows. Most people try to remove it using their hands what is a large discomfort or even danger. Besides, clearing fog with hands forms streaks, which reduce the view at night time, especially when in the glare of oncoming traffic.
Mist on car windows may cause accidents but can be prevented by using our ANTI-FOG protection.
Available separately or in NANO-WIPE set. 3. NANO-RIM - Rim Sealant rim nano-coating protects rims (alloy or chrome) from adherence of brake dust that can cause black or brown marks and stains on the rim surface. By repelling of aqueous and oily substances rims stay clean longer. Nano-coating modifies surface to be more smooth in scale of nano what results in easy-to-clean effect. With NANO-RIM dirt and sediments can be removed just by damp cloth or sponge. Advantages: a. Long lasting protection - up to 3 years b. No visual changes c. Reduces adhesion of brakedust d. Suitable for alloy and chromed wheels e. Saves time and money on cleaning agents f. Dirt can simply be removed with damp sponge or cloth 4. NANO for car paint NANO for car paint consists of two-component mixture based on nanotechnology. Aqueous and oily liquids transporting contaminants are simply repelled surfaces so the adhesion of dirt, dead bugs and other contaminants will is reduced. Sealed car paint becomes easy-to-clean what means that small dose or none cleaning agent is needed. Nano-coating protects the bodywork, increases weather and UV resistance and even reduces corrosion. Our sealant is acid, alkali, water and alcohol resistant. The car paint remains blemish free for longer and the need for cleaning will be minimised. Advantages: a. No visual changes b. Long lasting protection up to 2 years c. Beading effect of aqueous substances d. Car wash and jet wash resistant e. Saves money on cleaning agents f. Bugs and dirt can be removed easily g. Long lasting dirt and contaminant protection

5. NANO for Seats and Convertible Roof Our nano-sealant for seats (textile or suede) effectively protects the material from staining and liquids absorption. Drink spilled on the seat doesn't soak and stays on the surface until removed with tissue or sponge. No stains or marks can be noticed. Seats soiled by pets can be quickly and easily cleaned with damp sponge or cloth.
Nano-protection seals every single fibre so dirt cannot be transported inside. Advantages: a. environmentally friendly - water based, no VOCs b. dry cleaning resistant c. vapour permeable remains unaffected d. harmless to skin e. can be applied on every textile - from finest silk to hard wearing cotton f. resistant up to 6 months

6. NANO for Chrome NANO for chrome protects metal elements like bumpers, grills, slats or mirror covers from staining, fingerprints or contaminants. Sealed metal becomes water repellent and can be cleaned with damp cloth.
Our coating will not only protect but as well provide a great and shiny appearance of your car chrome parts. Protection lasts up to 3 years.

7. NANO for Front Lights NANO for front lights reduces adherence of dirt on the surface of synthetic materials like automobile lights. During rain all pollutants are rinsed off be water. All insects can be easily removed with a damp cloth. Protection improves brightness of your lights especially during heavy weather conditions. Protection last up to 2 years. 8. NANO-MultiFoam Our NANO-MultiFoam is a cleaning and sealing foam based on nanotechnology. It is designed to protect car paint. Applied on old car paint NANO-MultiFoam brings back previous shines and glare. Protection provides long lasting protection against water, dirt, grease and fingerprints. Paint sealed with NANO-MultiFoam has easy-to-clean properties, what means that none or small dose of cleaning agents are needed to wash a car. Insects, mud or soil can easily be removed with stream of water or damp sponge.
a. Saves time and money on cleaning agents b. Contaminants can simply be rinsed off with water or a wet cloth c. Color and glare can be revived d. Long lasting protection against water, dirt, grease and fingerprints (up to 8 months) 9. NANOVIS NANOVIS is a photo-catalytic coating for car interior. It can be sprayed on seats and upholstery. Light access is needed to activate photo-catalytic process which decomposes negative agents.
NANOVIS is water based, none-flammable and environmentally friendly.
Air-purification | Reacts with VOCs such as formaldehyde, toluene, benzene from the construction materials to make safe environments without producing any harmful by-products | Deodorization | Cigarette smoke, odours, smells, ammonia, methanethiol | Antibacterial/anti-fungi | 99,9% reduction of bacteria and fungi such as E-coli, Salmonella, Vibrio, Staphylococcus aureus. |

10. NPS (nanosilver) for floor mates
NPS is water based solution containing nano-particles of silver. It proves high anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal properties and removes odours. Researches conducted by medical academies and microbiological laboratories proved 99,9% reduction of bacteria and fungi. At the same time products doesn't contain alcohols or antibiotics.

(Source: Hessian Ministry of Economy, Transport, Urban and Regional Development)The following examples are but an overview of a large number of efforts and applications involving nanotechnologies in the automotive industry:
Chassis and exterior
Vehicle weight reduction is a key part of car manufacturers' strategies to improve fuel economy. Ford's "Atoms to Engines" team for instance looked at the structure of cast aluminum alloys at near atomic levels. From this work, a detailed analysis of the structure/property/process relationship of the aluminum alloy engine blocks has led to reduced engine weight and, in turn, increased fuel efficiency.
Another area is the substitution of mineral glass windows by polymers. However, until recently some key performance specifications had not been reached; scratch resistance and long term ultraviolet resistance remained challenges. Recent advances involving nanotechnology are helping polycarbonate window developers to overcome these challenges.
Nanoengineered thermoplastic materials allow a weight reduction of up to 40% compared to traditional steel chassis parts. With regard to paints and surface coatings, nanostructured surfaces result in improved paint adhesion and color durability. Self-cleaning will become standard on windscreens and car body shells. Scratch-resistant, dirt-repellent, UV-resistant and self-healing car paints are applications that already exist or are in development.
Tires are one of the early applications of nanostructured materials in automobiles. Carbon black was the first nanomaterial to be used by the automotive industry in tires as a pigment and reinforcing agent.The key to tire performance is the mixture of the rubber – but its optimization requirements can be contradictory (highly complex chemical and physical interactions between the rubber and the filler material): While the tire needs good grip its rolling resistance has to be low as well.Some 30% of the tire cover consists of reinforcing filler which makes possible wanted properties such as grip, abrasion resistance, resistance to initial wear and tear, and tear propagation. There are three products that significantly improve the properties of natural rubber: soot, silica and organosilane. Now being produced in nanoscale form, these particles as well as the cross-linking with the natural rubber molecules play a key role for tire properties.
Building an electric car needs to take into account four basic requirements – powerful and safe energy storage to give the car a sufficient driving range; engines and associated electronic components that make best use of the stored onboard energy; light-weight components to compensate for the (at the moment still) extra weight of the batteries; and all that at a price that can compete with gasoline-powered automobiles.Lithium ion batteries are currently being intensively developed worldwide for use in electric vehicles. The consensus view among researchers is that the battery will be of the lithium-ion type, but which of the lithium-ion chemistries to use is still a major question.
Nanotechnology holds great promise for improving the performance and life-times of the Li-ion batteries. It also has the potential to enhance the energy and power density, shorten the recharge time, as well as decrease the size and weight while improving safety and stability of the batteries. A large number of companies such as Altair Nanotechnologies, mPhase Technologies, A123 Systems, Li-Tec Battery GmbH, NanoEner Technologies, Next Alternative Inc., Nexeon Ltd. etc. are actively pursuing the development of nano-enabled batteries while some others are already producing them (see here for an overview of major producers/developers of nano-based batteries and their product range).
Nanotechnology is also key to improving fuel cell performance of future generations of hydrogen-powered cars.One of the leading fuel cell technologies developed, in particular for transportation applications, is the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, also known as polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells – both resulting in the same acronym PEMFC. These fuel cells are powered by the electrochemical oxidation reaction of hydrogen and by the electroreduction of the oxygen contained in air.Although nanotechnology promises cheap bipolar materials using nanocomposites, more efficient non-platinum electrocatalysts, and thermally stable and more durable membranes to become available in the near future, the precious metal platinum still remains the workhorse of PEM fuel cells. One way to minimize platinum usage is to increase catalytic efficiency by nanostructuring the platinum metal; another way of eliminating the use of platinum altogether is by exploring the use of much cheaper non-precious metal catalysts where the nanostructured surfaces match or exceed the catalytic properties of platinum. Under the hood
For fuel cell cars, hydrogen sensors will be a critical component for safety and widely needed. They will detect leaks long before the gas becomes an explosive hazard. Researchers have already developed thin, flexible hydrogen sensors using nanostructured materials, i.e., single-walled carbon nanotubes decorated with palladium nanoparticles.Of course, we will be stuck with gas-guzzling cars for quite some time to come. Improved fuel efficiency and the reduction of harmful exhaust emissions are two key areas where nanotechnology applications will make an impact.In today's automobiles, 10-15 per cent of the fuel consumption is influenced by engine friction due to the friction loss at the moving mechanical parts (piston, crank drive, valve drive). Nanocoatings applied to mechanical parts, and nanostructured lubricants, help reduce friction and abrasion and thereby improve fuelefficiency.

The tribological processes at the piston/cylinder wall interfaces take place at the nanoscale. (Source: Daimler AG Research & Development)Another example of the many aspects of the above-mentioned "Atoms to Engines" project by Ford is developing a thermally sprayed nanocoating that could replace the heavier cast iron liners that provide the necessary wear resistance of cylinder bores in aluminum block engines. This thin wear-resistant coating reduces weight and improves friction performance while delivering equal durability and reliability to the product.
Piezo fuel injection technology is now used not only in diesel engines, but also in their petrol counterparts. In the case of direct injection, a pump first builds up high pressure before it shoots the fuel finely dosed into the combustion chamber of the cylinder via a nozzle. The precision with which this happens directly influences the combustion process. The higher the pressure and the more precisely the dose and time of injection can be controlled, the more efficient fuel combustion will be. Nanocrystalline piezoelectric materials will improve these piezoelectric materials.
For exhaust cleaning in petrol-powered cars, systems based on three-way catalysts are used. These can convert the three main pollutants or pollutant types – carbon monoxide, nitric oxides and hydrocarbons – as far as possible and thus remove them from the exhaust gas. During the conversion of toxic to non-toxic gases nanotechnologies play a crucial role. The impact of catalysts generally depends on the size of the surface.
If the material used for the catalytic function is scaled to the nanometer range, the specific surface increases drastically. The composition and structure are chosen such that exhaust gases interact optimally with the catalytically active coating, and their chemical transformation into harmless substances is accelerated.
Car interior application will mostly deal with comfort issues – dirt-repellent and antimicrobial textiles and surfaces, nanoparticulate air filters, anti-glare coatings of mirrors and instruments. Or how about climate-controlled car seats based on thermoelectrics – materials that convert electricity directly into heating or cooling.
Electric systems and electronics
Electronics is an innovation driver in the automotive sector as more and more components are being controlled electronically, electromechanically or electromagnetically. Nanostructured actor components could substitute current microsystems technology-based direct injection systems for instance.
Spintronics promises to revolutionize computing. While conventional complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS), a technology used today in all types of electronics, rely on electrons' charge to power devices, the emerging field of spintronics exploits another aspect of electrons – their spin, which could be manipulated by electric and magnetic fields. With the use of nanoscaled magnetic materials, spintronics or electronic devices, when switched off, will not have a stand-by power dissipation problem. With this advantage, devices with much lower power consumption, known as non-volatile electronics, can become a reality.

The quickly emerging hybrid car sector not only uses batteries to store energy for the electric drive mode, it also pushes recuperation technologies, i.e. the re-use of braking energy. Here, the moving energy is converted into electrical current via generator during braking and stored in accumulators or super or ultra capacitors. Nanotechnologies are expected to have a major impact in this area. For instance, scientists are already producing ultra-lightweight, bendable batteries and supercapacitors in the form of everyday paper.Micro-structured solar cells can already be integrated into sunroofs and are offered as options on some cars. Using nanostructured and flexible plastic solar cells with a thickness of less than 1 micron, it will become possible to cover larger areas of the car exterior with solar energy harvesting thin-films.The overall electrical to optical efficiency for lighting applications in today's cars is only about 1%. This will be considerably improved by the development of diffractive and microoptics, new light sources, and their integration with the power supply.
Nano-composites are materials that incorporate nano-sized particles into a matrix of standard material such as polymers. Adding nanoparticles can generate a drastic improvement in properties that include mechanical strength, toughness and electrical or thermal conductivity. The effectiveness of the nanoparticles is such that the amount of material added is normally only 0.5-5.0% by weight. They have properties that are superior to conventional microscale composites and can be synthesized using simple and inexpensive techniques. [8] A few nano-composites have already reached the marketplace, while a few others are on the verge, and many continue to remain in the laboratories of various research institutions and companies. The global nano-composites market is projected to reach 989 million pounds by the end of the 2010, as stated in a report published by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. Nano-composites comprising nanoparticles such as Nanoclays (70% of volume) or nano-carbon fillers, carbon nanotubes, carbon nano-fibers and graphite platelets are expected to be a major growth segment for the plastics industry.


Nanoparticles have an extremely high surface-to-volume ratio which dramatically changes their properties when compared with their bulk sized equivalents. It also changes the way in which the nanoparticles bond with the bulk material. The result is that the composite can be many times improved with respect to the component parts.


Polymers reinforced with as little as 2% to 6% of these nanoparticles via melt compounding or in-situ polymerization exhibit dramatic improvements in properties such as thermomechanical, light weight, dimensional stability, barrier properties, flame retardancy, heat resistance and electrical conductivity.


Applications of nano-composite plastics are diversified such as thin-film capacitors for computer chips; solid polymer electrolytes for batteries, automotive engine parts and fuel tanks; impellers and blades, oxygen and gas barriers, food packaging etc. with automotive and packaging accounting for a majority of the consumption. [9] The automotive segment is projected to generate the fastest demand for nano-composites if the cost/performance ratio is acceptable. Some automotive production examples of nano-composites include the following: Step assist - First commercial application on the 2002 GMC Safari and Chevrolet Astro van; Body Side Molding of the 2004 Chevrolet Impala (7% weight savings per vehicle and improved surface quality compared with TPO and improved mar/scuff resistance); Cargo bed for GM's 2005 Hummer H2 (seven pounds of molded-in-color nanocomposites); Fuel tanks (Increased resistance to permeation); under-hood (timing gage cover (Toyota) and engine cover (Mitsubishi)

After more than 20 years of basic nanoscience research and 10 years of focused R&D under the NNI, applications of nanotechnology are delivering in both expected and unexpected ways on nanotechnology’s promise to benefit society.
Nanotechnology is helping to considerably improve, even revolutionize, many technology and industry sectors: information technology, energy, environmental science, medicine, homeland security, food safety, and transportation, among many others. Described below is a sampling of the rapidly growing list of benefits and applications of nanotechnology.
Most benefits of nanotechnology depend on the fact that it is possible to tailor the essential structures of materials at the nanoscale to achieve specific properties, thus greatly extending the well-used toolkits of materials science. Using nanotechnology, materials can effectively be made to be stronger, lighter, more durable, more reactive, more sieve-like, or better electrical conductors, among many other traits. There already exist over 800 everyday commercial products that rely on nanoscale materials and processes:
Nanoscale additives in polymer composite materials for baseball bats, tennis rackets, motorcycle helmets, automobile bumpers, luggage, and power tool housings can make them simultaneously lightweight, stiff, durable, and resilient.
Nanoscale additives to or surface treatments of fabrics help them resist wrinkling, staining, and bacterial growth, and provide lightweight ballistic energy deflection in personal body armor.
Nanoscale thin films on eyeglasses, computer and camera displays, windows, and other surfaces can make them water-repellent, antireflective, self-cleaning, resistant to ultraviolet or infrared light, antifog, antimicrobial, scratch-resistant, or electrically conductive.
Nanoscale materials in cosmetic products provide greater clarity or coverage; cleansing; absorption; personalization; and antioxidant, anti-microbial, and other health properties in sunscreens, cleansers, complexion treatments, creams and lotions, shampoos, and specialized makeup.
Nano-engineered materials in the food industry include nanocomposites in food containers to minimize carbon dioxide leakage out of carbonated beverages, or reduce oxygen inflow, moisture outflow, or the growth of bacteria in order to keep food fresher and safer, longer. Nanosensors built into plastic packaging can warn against spoiled food. Nanosensors are being developed to detect salmonella, pesticides, and other contaminates on food before packaging and distribution. | High-resolution image of a polymer-silicate nanocomposite. This material has improved thermal, mechanical, and barrier properties and can be used in food and beverage containers, fuel storage tanks for aircraft and automobiles, and in aerospace components. (Image courtesy of NASA.) |
Nano-engineered materials in automotive products include high-power rechargeable battery systems; thermoelectric materials for temperature control; lower-rolling-resistance tires; high-efficiency/low-cost sensors and electronics; thin-film smart solar panels; and fuel additives and improved catalytic converters for cleaner exhaust and extended range.
Nano-engineered materials make superior household products such as degreasers and stain removers; environmental sensors, alert systems, air purifiers and filters; antibacterial cleansers; and specialized paints and sealing products.
Nanostructured ceramic coatings exhibit much greater toughness than conventional wear-resistant coatings for machine parts. In 2000, the U.S. Navy qualified such a coating for use on gears of air-conditioning units for its ships, saving $20 million in maintenance costs over 10 years. Such coatings can extend the lifetimes of moving parts in everything from power tools to industrial machinery.
Nanoparticles are used increasingly in catalysis to boost chemical reactions. This reduces the quantity of catalytic materials necessary to produce desired results, saving money and reducing pollutants. Two big applications are in petroleum refining and in automotive catalytic converters.
Nanotechnology is already in use in many computing, communications, and other electronics applications to provide faster, smaller, and more portable systems that can manage and store larger and larger amounts of information. These continuously evolving applications include:
Nanoscale transistors that are faster, more powerful, and increasingly energy-efficient; soon your computer’s entire memory may be stored on a single tiny chip.
Magnetic random access memory (MRAM) enabled by nanometer‐scale magnetic tunnel junctions that can quickly and effectively save even encrypted data during a system shutdown or crash, enable resume‐play features, and gather vehicle accident data.
Displays for many new TVs, laptop computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and other devices incorporate nanostructured polymer films known as organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. OLED screens offer brighter images in a flat format, as well as wider viewing angles, lighter weight, better picture density, lower power consumption, and longer lifetimes.
Other computing and electronic products include Flash memory chips for iPod nanos; ultraresponsive hearing aids; antimicrobial/antibacterial coatings on mouse/keyboard/cell phone casings; conductive inks for printed electronics for RFID/smart cards/smart packaging; more life-like video games; and flexible displays for e-book readers.
The difficulty of meeting the world’s energy demand is compounded by the growing need to protect our environment. Many scientists are looking into ways to develop clean, affordable, and renewable energy sources, along with means to reduce energy consumption and lessen toxicity burdens on the environment.
Prototype solar panels incorporating nanotechnology are more efficient than standard designs in converting sunlight to electricity, promising inexpensive solar power in the future. Nanostructured solar cells already are cheaper to manufacture and easier to install, since they can use print-like manufacturing processes and can be made in flexible rolls rather than discrete panels. Newer research suggests that future solar converters might even be “paintable.” | New solar panel films incorporate nanoparticles to create lightwieght, flexible solar cells. (Image courtesy of Nanosys |
Nanotechnology is improving the efficiency of fuel production from normal and low-grade raw petroleum materials through better catalysis, as well as fuel consumption efficiency in vehicles and power plants through higher-efficiency combustion and decreased friction.
Nano-bioengineering of enzymes is aiming to enable conversion of cellulose into ethanol for fuel, from wood chips, corn stalks (not just the kernels, as today), unfertilized perennial grasses, etc.
Nanotechnology is already being used in numerous new kinds of batteries that are less flammable, quicker-charging, more efficient, lighter weight, and that have a higher power density and hold electrical charge longer. One new lithium-ion battery type uses a common, nontoxic virus in an environmentally benign production process.
Nanostructured materials are being pursued to greatly improve hydrogen membrane and storage materials and the catalysts needed to realize fuel cells for alternative transportation technologies at reduced cost. Researchers are also working to develop a safe, lightweight hydrogen fuel tank.
Various nanoscience-based options are being pursued to convert waste heat in computers, automobiles, homes, power plants, etc., to usable electrical power.
An epoxy containing carbon nanotubes is being used to make windmill blades that are longer, stronger, and lighter-weight than other blades to increase the amount of electricity that windmills can generate.
Researchers are developing wires containing carbon nanotubes to have much lower resistance than the high-tension wires currently used in the electric grid and thus reduce transmission power loss.
To power mobile electronic devices, researchers are developing thin-film solar electric panels that can be fitted onto computer cases and flexible piezoelectric nanowires woven into clothing to generate usable energy on-the-go from light, friction, and/or body heat.
Energy efficiency products are increasing in number and kinds of application. In addition to those noted above, they include more efficient lighting systems for vastly reduced energy consumption for illumination; lighter and stronger vehicle chassis materials for the transportation sector; lower energy consumption in advanced electronics; low-friction nano-engineered lubricants for all kinds of higher-efficiency machine gears, pumps, and fans; light-responsive smart coatings for glass to complement alternative heating/cooling schemes; and high-light-intensity, fast-recharging lanterns for emergency crews.
Besides lighter cars and machinery that requires less fuel, and alternative fuel and energy sources, there are many eco-friendly applications for nanotechnology, such as materials that provide clean water from polluted water sources in both large-scale and portable applications, and ones that detect and clean up environmental contaminants.
Nanotechnology could help meet the need for affordable, clean drinking water through rapid, low-cost detection of impurities in and filtration and purification of water. For example, researchers have discovered unexpected magnetic interactions between ultrasmall specks of rust, which can help remove arsenic or carbon tetrachloride from water (see image); they are developing nanostructured filters that can remove virus cells from water; and they are investigating a deionization method using nano-sized fiber electrodes to reduce the cost and energy requirements of removing salts from water. | | Nanorust cleans arsenic from drinking water.
(Image courtesy of Rice University) |
Nanoparticles will someday be used to clean industrial water pollutants in ground water through chemical reactions that render them harmless, at much lower cost than methods that require pumping the water out of the ground for treatment.
Researchers have developed a nanofabric "paper towel," woven from tiny wires of potassium manganese oxide, that can absorb 20 times its weight in oil for cleanup applications.
Many airplane cabin and other types of air filters are nanotechnology-based filters that allow “mechanical filtration,” in which the fiber material creates nanoscale pores that trap particles larger than the size of the pores. They also may contain charcoal layers that remove odors. Almost 80% of the cars sold in the U.S. include built-in nanotechnology-based filters.
New nanotechnology-enabled sensors and solutions may one day be able to detect, identify, and filter out, and/or neutralize harmful chemical or biological agents in the air and soil with much higher sensitivity than is possible today. Researchers around the world are investigating carbon nanotube “scrubbers,” and membranes to separate carbon dioxide from power plant exhaust. And researchers are investigating particles such as self-assembled monolayers on mesoporous supports (SAMMS™), dendrimers, carbon nanotubes, and metalloporphyrinogens to determine how to apply their unique chemical and physical properties for various kinds of toxic site remediation.
Nanotechnology has the real potential to revolutionize a wide array of medical and biotechnology tools and procedures so that they are more personalized, portable, cheaper, safer, and easier to administer. Below are some examples of important advances in these areas.
Quantum dots are semiconducting nanocrystals that can enhance biological imaging for medical diagnostics. When illuminated with ultraviolet light, they emit a wide spectrum of bright colors that can be used to locate and identify specific kinds of cells and biological activities. These crystals offer optical detection up to 1,000 times better than conventional dyes used in many biological tests, such as MRIs, and render significantly more information.
Nanotechnology has been used in the early diagnosis of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in arteries. Researchers have developed an imaging technology to measure the amount of an antibody-nanoparticle complex that accumulates specifically in plaque. Clinical scientists are able to monitor the development of plaque as well as its disappearance following treatment (see image). | Before (left) and after (right) picture of atherosclerotic placque in a mouse artery. Placque accumulation is shown in this image by the increasing intensity of color, from blue to yellow and red. (Image courtesy of M. Nahrendorf, MGH Center for Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School) |
Gold nanoparticles can be used to detect early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Molecular imaging for the early detection where sensitive biosensors constructed of nanoscale components (e.g., nanocantilevers, nanowires, and nanochannels) can recognize genetic and molecular events and have reporting capabilities, thereby offering the potential to detect rare molecular signals associated with malignancy.
Multifunctional therapeutics where a nanoparticle serves as a platform to facilitate its specific targeting to cancer cells and delivery of a potent treatment, minimizing the risk to normal tissues.
Research enablers such as microfluidic chip-based nanolabs capable of monitoring and manipulating individual cells and nanoscale probes to track the movements of cells and individual molecules as they move about in their environments.
Research is underway to use nanotechnology to spur the growth of nerve cells, e.g., in damaged spinal cord or brain cells. In one method, a nanostuctured gel fills the space between existing cells and encourages new cells to grow. There is early work on this in the optical nerves of hamsters. Another method is exploring use of nanofibers to regenerate damaged spinal nerves in mice.
In addition to contributing to building and maintaining lighter, smarter, more efficient, and “greener” vehicles, aircraft, and ships, nanotechnology offers various means to improve the transportation infrastructure:
Nano-engineering of steel, concrete, asphalt, and other cementitious materials, and their recycled forms, offers great promise in terms of improving the performance, resiliency, and longevity of highway and transportation infrastructure components while reducing their cost. New systems may incorporate innovative capabilities into traditional infrastructure materials, such as the ability to generate or transmit energy.
Nanoscale sensors and devices may provide cost-effective continuous structural monitoring of the condition and performance of bridges, tunnels, rails, parking structures, and pavements over time. Nanoscale sensors and devices may also support an enhanced transportation infrastructure that can communicate with vehicle-based systems to help drivers maintain lane position, avoid collisions, adjust travel routes to circumnavigate congestion, and other such activities. | Future sensor systems will be able to use multiple physical phenomena to sense many analytes simultaneously for a variety of applications, some of which are noted above. Illustrated here are (left to right) an optical tranducer, which measures light; an electro/chemical tranducer, which measures electrical properties; a magnetic tranducer, which measures changes to the local magnetic field; and a mechanical transducer, which detects changes in motion. (Image by N.R. Fuller, Sayo-Art.)CONCLUSIONSThe automotive industry will be influenced by the development and implementation of nanotechnology. It is our hope to raise the awareness that nanotechnology will positively influence the business of the automotive industry over the next several years. Due to the small size of nano-materials, their physical/ chemical properties (e.g. stability, hardness, conductivity, reactivity, optical sensitivity, melting point, etc.) can be manipulated to improve the overall properties of conventional material. Metal nanoparticles are being considered for potential use in catalytic converters since the catalytic reactivity is significantly enhanced due to the increased surface area of the metal. Coolants utilize nanoparticles and nano-powders to increase the efficiency of heat transfer and potentially reduce the size of the automotive cooling equipment. Some manufacturers are currently using nano-magnetic fluids in shock absorbers to increase vibration control efficiency.Wear-resistant, hard-surface nano-coatings are being investigated for applications in bearings, cylinders, valves, and other highly stressed components. High efficiency nano-layers of semiconducting materials provide electronic components and systems with a longer lifetime. Sensors based on nano-layer structures find applications in engine control, airbag, anti-lock brake and electronic stability program systems. Nanoparticles also support the optimization of conventional components like batteries, catalysts, solar cells or fuel cells. Nanotechnology is science and engineering, and it is all about practical applications of physics, chemistry and material properties. Nanotechnology will influence the auto industry initially on a very small scale, but will certainly be developed to deliver features, products and processes that are almost unimaginable today. |


1. J. of Nanoparticle Research, Kluwer Academic Publ., Vol. 3, No. 5-6, pp. 353-360, 2001 (based on the presentation at the symposium Global Nanotechnology Networking, International Union of Materials Meeting, August 28, 2001)
2. Choi S.U.S., in “Developments and Applications of Non- Newtonian Flows”, edited by Singer D.A., Wang H.P., American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Vol.231/MDVol. 66, p.99 (New York, 1995).
3. Keblinski P., Eastman J.A., Cahill D.G., Materials Today, p.36 (June 2005).
4. Marquis F.D.S., Chibante L.P.F., Journal of Materials, p. 32 (December 2005).
5. Elliot J.A., Kelly A., Windle A.H., J. Mat.Sci.Ltrs. Vol. 21, p.1249 (2002).
6. Prasher R., Proceedings of the IEEE Vol.94, No.8, p..1571 (August 2006).
7. HuX.J., Padilla A.A., Xu J., Fisher T.S., Goodson K.E., J. of Heat Transfer, Vol.128, p.1109 (November 2006).
10. iNEMI Nano Solder Project Work, 2008

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