small plans: nanotechnology for the building industry

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Nanobeads create environmentally friendly wood preservative

Researchers at Michigan Technological University have discovered a way to embed organic insecticides and fungicides in plastic beads only about 100 nanometers across, according to an AScribe Newswire report.

"Six hundred of them in a row would be about the width of a human hair," says Peter Laks, a professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, who pioneered the work along with Pat Heiden, a chemistry professor.

Suspended in water, the beads are small enough to travel through the wood when it is placed under pressure. "Wood has a very fine, sieve-like structure," Laks said. "You need particles small enough to fit through those very small channels."

The beads go right to the heart of the wood and stay there, protecting it from decay.

The technology has been licensed to the New Jersey-based company Phibro-Tech, which supplies chemicals to the wood preservation industry.

The technology may be tiny, but the advantages could be huge. "It allows the industry to use more environmentally friendly biocides," said Jim Baker, Michigan Tech's director of technology partnerships.

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