Big Opportunities for Small Particles

03 May 2001

Australian scientists are using nanoparticles to deflect UV rays. These nanoparticles are extremely effective at absorbing light, especially in the ultra-violet (UV) range, increasing the UV resistance of a range of manufactured products including plastics and paints.

""By precisely controlling the particle size, we can maximise its ability to absorb potentially damaging UV light. Because the particles are so small, they let visible light pass through and thus they appear transparent."" says Dr Terry Turney from Australia's national science agency, CSIRO.

CSIRO and Melbourne-based company Micronisers have developed ultrafine additives for sunscreens that are so successful they have already captured 60% of the Australian sunscreen market and will soon appear in sunscreen products in the US and Europe. ""The nanoparticles in this new generation of suncreens have been engineered to absorb more of the harmful UV radiation, giving greater protection against the sun's rays,"" says Dr Turney. ""Because the nanoparticles let the visible light pass through, the sunscreen appears transparent, unlike the warpaint look of other sunscreens.""

""Nanoparticle additives can be used in plastics for outdoors applications to prevent UV-induced weathering,"" says Dr Turney.

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