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Special Delivery: Clay Nanotubes for Skin
By: Katie Schaefer, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: February 29, 2008, from the March 2008 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Of the applications recorded for nanocomposites in 2005, automotive parts, energy and packaging earned top marketshares of 29%, 28% and 19% respectively, according to BCC Research. And although mainstream use of nanocomposites in personal care is still on the horizon, the right technology could place it in the running as a primary application.
Clay nanocomposites accounted for 24% of total nanocomposite consumption in 2005, followed by metal, metal oxide and carbon nanotube composites. By 2011, clay nanocomposites are projected to reach 44% of the marketshare—and it is this area that provides opportunities in personal care, as recent research by one manufacturer of naturally occurring nanotubes and other nanomaterials, NaturalNano Inc., has shown; specifically, its halloysite nanocomposites. Cathy Fleischer, PhD, president and chief technology officer of NaturalNano, is excited to explore the cosmetic applications for the nanotubes.
“Halloysite nanotubes are formed naturally by surface weathering of aluminosilicate minerals,” explained Fleischer. “They are composed of aluminum, silicon, hydrogen and oxygen. These tiny hollow tubes, with diameters smaller than 100 nanometers, differ from other clay nanocomposites in their formation—the halloysite nanotubes are tubular whereas other clays are platelike in structure, meaning they are formed in layers, much like a deck of cards,” added Fleischer.
NaturalNano became interested in halloysite nanotubes when it noted their use on US Navy ships. “The Navy initially used the nanotubes for anti-fouling, or to protect ships from barnacles that can slow them down,” said Fleischer. The Navy discovered other applications for the hollow clay tubes by filling them with different materials.
NaturalNano took it from there, exploring a variety of uses for the halloysite nanotubes.