While nanotechnology is in the “pre-competitive” stage (meaning its applied use is limited), nanoparticles are being used in a number of industries. Nanoscale materials are used in electronic, magnetic and optoelectronic, biomedical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, energy, catalytic and materials applications. Areas producing the greatest revenue for nanoparticles reportedly are chemical-mechanical polishing, magnetic recording tapes, sunscreens, automotive catalyst supports, biolabeling, electroconductive coatings and optical fibers.

photo of woman at computer Today most computer hard drives contain giant magnetoresistance (GMR) heads that, through nano-thin layers of magnetic materials, allow for an order of magnitude increase in storage capacity. Other electronic applications include non-volatile magnetic memory, automotive sensors, landmine detectors and solid-state compasses.

Nanomaterials, which can be purchased in dry powder form or in liquid dispersions, often are combined with other materials today to improve product functionality.

Additional products, available today, that benefit from the unique properties of nanoscale materials, include:

• Step assists on vansphoto of  minivan
• Bumpers on cars
• Paints and coatings to protect against corrosion,    scratches and radiation
• Protective and glare-reducing coatings for   eyeglasses and cars
• Metal-cutting tools
• Sunscreens and cosmetics
• Longer-lasting tennis balls
• Light-weight, stronger tennis racquets
• Stain-free clothing and mattressesphoto of sunglasses
• Dental-bonding agent
• Burn and wound dressings
• Ink
• Automobile catalytic converters.

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extending Moore's Law