Small, Smaller and Nano Materials: An Invisible Benefit

Most nanoscale materials, whether engineered or natural, fall into one of four categories: 1) metal oxides such as zinc and titanium that are used in ceramics, chemical polishing agents, scratch-resistant coatings, cosmetics and sunscreens; 2) nanoclays, which are naturally occurring, platelike clay particles that strengthen or harden materials or make them flame retardant; 3) nanotubes, which are used in coatings to dissipate or minimize static electricity; and 4) quantum dots, used in exploratory medicine or in the self-assembly of nanoelectronic structures.

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