Week 9 / Nanocomposite Coating by Marie De Austria

When thinking about nanotechnology, I always imagine tiny machines and robots that can enter the human body and repair broken tissues or futuristic spies that can surreptitiously mount foreign government’s walls. I never thought that nanotechnology can be used to make sunscreens that are more efficient at absorbing ultraviolet rays from the sun or better yet, make tennis balls bounce better and longer.

Tennis ball manufacturers have always been looking for a way to make their tennis balls last longer by retaining the original air pressure inside the ball. Finally, Wilson Sporting Goods released their Wilson Double Core tennis balls with the promise that they will last twice as long as the normal tennis balls. The technology behind their claim is that the second coat inside the tennis balls is made of nanocomposite coating that prevents air from seeping out from inside the ball. The coating that the Wilson company invented is known as Air D-Fense. The coating begins with a latex polymer with butyl microspheres where the vermiculite platelets are added. The key to the coating process is to let the coatings dry with as much of the platelets still aligned. This creates an effective barrier so that air will not escape.

This technology is used to create a lighter but sturdier tennis racket which is popular but quite expensive today.

The same technology, nanocomposite coating, is also being used to create more efficient and long lasting critical engine parts. These parts, when tested against control specimens which were not given the superhard nanocomposite coating treatment, performed with lower friction against other parts of the engine and lasted longer – meaning it did not wear out as fast as the control specimens. If they develop this technology more, we may be able to create more efficient cars and engines which will reduce manufacturing waste – something to really look forward to when thinking about the possibilities that nanotechnology can fulfill.

It goes on to show that the success of a certain technology is not measured by how grand and big the machine is but how it can be used in many different aspects of life. From hopes of creating tiny surgical robots that can enter the bloodstream to making tennis balls last longer and bounce better, nanotechnology really does hold a huge potential and a great deal of promise in the future.

Furthermore, it is interesting to see how creative people can really be. It is one thing to discover something novel but to also use it to solve a problem is simply genius. It is like using a book to prop a shaky desk or a stool to reach something beyond our height allows us to reach. Creativity and inspiration, then, are the links between science and art. In art, you need creativity to express your inspirations in a way that could be experienced by the audience. In science, you have to express your inspirations in a creative way to benefit the masses. And this convergence is displayed in the Wilson Double Core tennis balls. The Wilson Company was inspired by the idea of creating better tennis balls and they used nanotechnology in a creative way to tackle the problem and produce a solution that everyone can now benefit from.

http://www.azom.com/details.asp?ArticleID=1665

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