New research from Linnaeus University opens up a future of more sustainably produced nanotechnology, where limited natural resources can be substituted with corn and milk proteins, among others.
Nanotechnology can be found almost everywhere in our daily lives, although it is almost impossible to see. Nanostructures are materials that have been processed at the atomic level to obtain what is desired material properties. They are used, for example, in electronics, diagnostics and as a surface treatment for textiles. Nanotechnology has become an integral part of modern life.
In view of the diverse areas of application, it is becoming important to develop ecologically sustainable production processes and materials nanotechnology. The production processes used today often require limited natural resources.
“Today, nanostructures are made from many different types of metals and materials derived from them fossil fuels‘ explains Ian Nicholls, Professor of Chemistry at Linnaeus University.
Nicholls and his research colleague Subramanian Suriyanarayanan have developed nanostructured surfaces from natural raw materials found in corn, milk and crayfish husks. The study published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that sustainable solutions from biomaterials are possible.
Materials readily available
The researchers examined the usability of three renewable and readily available raw materials: zein (a naturally occurring corn protein), casein (a type of milk protein) and chitosan (a substance found in crab shells, among other things). The results showed that such readily available biomaterials can be used as starting materials for nanostructures.
A challenge when using new biomaterials is to preserve the properties of the materials over time. To find an answer, the researchers stored the zein, casein and chitosan nanostructures for six months and then examined how their material properties had changed.
In particular, the corn protein zein showed stable results: After six months, no significant differences in the quality of the nanostructures could be seen, which indicates promising properties. However, the results were not as good for the nanostructures made from casein and chitosan, which did not show the same good stability.
Further research projects are ongoing
Nevertheless, the study points to the possibility of replacing fossil fuels and metals in nanotechnology in the future. Other research projects are underway to continue investigating the possibility of using renewable and readily available raw materials.
“Nanotechnology products are of great benefit to society and it is very likely that demand will increase in the future. It is therefore very important that these can be produced in a resource-efficient and fossil-free manner – which we have proven, through our research, that it is possible,” concludes Nicholls.
Subramanian Suriyanarayanan et al, Preparation of Nanostructured Materials from Corn, Milk and Malacostraca, Scientific Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-021-04001-4
University of Linnaeus
Quote: Corn and milk proteins may replace fossil fuels and metals in fabrication of nanostructured surfaces (2022 January 26) retrieved January 26, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-01-maize-proteins -fossil-fuels-Metals.html
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