Surfaces exposed to the weather can be damaged by water, snow, ice, salt, dirt , heat, , smog, humidity, acid rain and chemicals.
Vehicles are particularly vulnerable but any surface material is susceptible to damage whether it is rubber, metal, fiberglass or anodized aluminum.
The shine and lustre of any car fades over time. Wheels tarnish, rubber and plastic dulls, metal rusts, paint scratches and chips - even with conventional coating protection.
But scientist Thomas Choate has invented a nanomaterial that can permanently protect surfaces from damage or deterioration.
It does this by repelling water, oil, dirt, ice, salt, chemicals and uv rays.
But not only does this patented nanocoating protect surfaces - it also restores them.
It can bring back the original color, shine, hardness and texture to surfaces.
In other words, this nanocoating makes the old - new, and the new - ageless.
It works using cross-linked nanostructured polymers. These are polymers engineered at the atomic level and built atom-by-atom so they are more resistant, more flexible, lighter, stronger, and harder than their parent material.
The nanocoating can be applied over primer, basecoat, clearcoat or powder on steel, aluminum, plastic, wood or fiberglass.
As our population ages, impaired vision caused by damaged retinas has increased.
Jeffrey Olsen, of the University of Colorado Hospital, has invented light amplifying "quantum" dots. This use of nanotechnology increases the light received by the retina so that images are brighter.
The "quantum" dots fluoresce when hit by photons so the images are more visible to functioning light sensitive cells.
The dots act as semiconductors and are implanted into the retina. They are much smaller than silicon chips.
To appreciate the miniature world of nanotechnology, it helps to get an idea of the sizes involved. A nanometer (nm) is the unit of measurement on the nanoscale.
A nanometer is smaller than the wavelength of visible light or a hundred thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair. On the nanoscale, atoms are assembled to make the latest science inventions - such as light amplifying "quantum" dots.
Shoushan Fan, Kaili Jiang and Lin Xiao, scientists at Tsinghua University in Beijing, have invented a super-thin loudspeaker (one thousandth the width of a human hair).
The material is flexible, transparent, stretchable - uses no magnets or moving parts - and produces sound quality as good as conventional speakers.
An audio frequency current is sent through a sheet of carbon nanotube to generate sound by vibrating surrounding air molecules.
The sheet of film experiences rapid temperature oscillations from the current causing pressure oscillations in the surrounding air, which creates sound pressure waves.
The film doesn't vibrate or move.
It can produce sound while being flexed, stretched, bent or even when partly damaged. The applications for this new invention idea appear limitless.
Combined with wireless technology, the nanotube film could be incorporated into textiles converting your favorite sweater into an wearable ipod.
The film can be laminated to a computer or television to replace conventional speakers. It can be attached to any surface - ceilings, walls, doors, car interiors - anywhere you wish to create acoustical sound.
Elizabeth Redmond of Chicago is using the law of thermodynamics to create floor tiles that compress to generate and distribute electricity.
The tiles convert kinetic energy into electrical energy from the pressure exerted by people walking on them.
They are intended for high traffic areas such as sidewalks, public transport platforms etc.
"Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. This project is exactly about that," says the 23 year old inventor.
The innovative flooring system is a solution to wasted human kinetic energy by harnessing it from pedestrian foot traffic to generate electricity for the community.
Anil Sethi, chief executive of the Swiss company Flison, holds a dark polymer foil. A paper-thin foil 200 times lighter than glass solar material. So light, it can be stuck to the sides of a building. So light, it can be mass-produced in rolls like packaging material.
This is solar film. This new invention idea is made from a semiconductor compound that is embedded into polymer foil. A compound that absorbs light by freeing electrons, which can generate electricity for heating, lighting and air-conditioning.
Just a small piece can power a mobile phone or laptop.
It will even work on a grey, cloudy day and it should be commercially available by 2010.
"We don't need subsidies, we just need governments to get out of the way and do no harm. They've spent $170 billion subsidizing nuclear power over the last thirty years," says Sethi.
The solar industry is expected to surpass wind power.
According to Michael Rogol, a solar expert with Credit Lyonnais, the industry will grow to $40 billion by 2010, especially in Japan and Germany where green energy laws have forced utitilies to purchase surplus electricity from households.
Solar foil technology is accelerating so fast that the cost for electricity per watt could be 70 cents within a few years and around 30 cents within a decade.
"This is a very powerful technology," says Mike Splinter, chief executive of the U.S. based semiconductor company Appied Materials.
Populations across Asia and Africa that do not have networks of electrical grids, could jump into the solar age with this technology, similar to how they jumped into wireless phones.
Electrical utilities in Japan and Germany have already seen diminishing profits.
But Jeroen Van de Veer, chief executive at Shell Oil assures us that oil will be around for awhile, "We have invested a bit in all forms of renewable energy ourselves and maybe we'll find a winner one day. But the reality is that in twenty years time we'll still be using more oil than now."
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