A nanocrystal is a crystalline particle with at least one dimension measuring less than 1000 nanometers (nm), where 1 nm is defined as 1 thousand-millionth of a meter (10-9 m).
Nanocrystals have a wide variety of proven and potential applications. They have been used in the manufacture of filters that refine crude oil into diesel fuel. Nanocrystals can also be layered and applied to flexible substrates to produce solar panels. Research at the University of Queensland (Australia) have yielded promising results in this field. Titania nanocrystals can be suspended in liquid form and applied to surfaces, making it possible to literally paint a solar panel onto an exterior wall or roof.
Possible future uses of nanocrystals include:
- Production of hydrogen
- Removal of pollutants and toxins
- Medical imaging
- Bio-tags for gene identification
- Drug manufacture
- Protein analysis
- Flat-panel displays
- Optical and infrared lasers
- Magneto-optical memory chips
- Self-organized smart materials.
NanoCrystal® is also a registered trademark of Elan Pharma International Ltd. (Ireland) for a technology that improves the bioavailability of drugs by rendering them as nanoscale particles that can be suspended in liquids, made into powder, pressed into tablets or encapsulated.