West Riding Blog

Fundamentals of Nanotechnology

Stephen Cash CEO of NanoCentral. NanoCentral is moving from a grant funded body to a commercial organization. Based at Sedgefield, CoDurham.  

Stephen has over 25 years experience with ICI plc holding a full range of commercial positions.

Establishing the world’s first commercial route to single-walled carbon nanotube manufacture during his 11 years at Thomas Swann & Co. they are now the premier manufacturer worldwide.

Stephen is also non-executive Director on 4 high-tech start up companies and sits on the advisory board of the Materials Science Department of Cambridge University and on a number of Industrial/Academic projects in materials science.

Fundamentals Presentation, 6th April 2011

Dr Stephen Cash of NanoCentral gave a rousing call to action for UK companies to adopt and develop nanotechnology materials. His talk was entitled Creating wealth through the safe exploitation of nano scale materials properties and he gave a convincing set of reasons why economically nano-technology was a disruptive technology.

A brief overview of reasons for innovation and life-cycle analysis were given. Nano-technology should be part of the raw material mix to help companies survive in a highly competitive and highly technological advancing marketplace.

Dr Cash demonstrated how as particles of materials decrease below 50nm properties dramatically change. Melting points, colour, UV absorbance, magnetic properties are all radically different. The huge increase in specific surface area makes activity orders of magnitude greater.  

The talk was wide ranging showing applications in food, personal care and pharmaceutical industries and how these technologies are becoming much lower in price and so becoming more mass market, and competitive enough for coatings and inks.

The technology is available now with new ranges of materials suppliers and processors developing constantly. This means the market for nano-materials is well established and new trading organisations are being more successful in supplying these materials.

He briefly touched on H&S and toxilogical aspects of these materials and explained how as the properties are changing then toxilogical effects will obviously change. However the nano-particles are nearly always supplied as a paste, dispersion or masterbatch, so air-borne nano-materials are rarely found.

He highlighted new grinding technologies already adopted by high-tech industries, and how Primary Dispersions Ltd for example, were taking grinding of materials regularly below 50nm and even down to 5nm. They are in the process of building a high capacity mill to increase volumes to enable use in surface coatings. Primary Dispersions are giving a lecture on applications at the Advances Forum.

There were many questions and further examples given in the Q&A session after the talk.

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