What if you could walk into a car showroom, buy a little, colorful packet of seeds, and place them outside your home to sprout? However, instead of ‘seeds’, imagine if you were growing nano particles to build your dream car—one atom, one particle at a time. Sounds like something in a sci-fi film? But with nanotechnology, this could soon be within the realm of reality.
Today, nanotechnology has made inroads into nearly every industry, from biotech to industrial manufacturing. And the automobile sector is exploring nanotech as well to build cars that are shinier, safer, and more energy efficient.
Wear-resistant tires, car bodies made from lighter but stronger nano materials, and improved miniaturized electronic systems ensure improved engine efficiency and fuel consumption. The key focus is on weight reduction to improve fuel economy. Replacing glass windows with polymers and using tough, rust-proof, nano-engineered thermoplastic materials instead of traditional steel chassis parts are recent advances in this area. Similarly, nanoparticles are being used to strengthen tires and reduce resistance, thereby saving fuel.
Apart from improving overall efficiency and performance, nanotechnology in the automobile sector offers substantial novelty and ease of use. For instance, the day is not far away when washing your car may become obsolete. Japanese car maker, Nissan is currently testing a hydrophobic nano paint technology to create a ‘self-cleaning’ car. Applied on the exterior of an automobile, this specially engineered high-tech nano paint repels water and oil, creating a protective layer between the car body and the environment. So dust, grime, or a muddy spray of water won’t be able to dirty a vehicle coated with this—it will simply roll of the surface, also ensuring that the paint lasts longer.
The environmental impact this technology offers is noteworthy. It could also potentially save millions of gallons of water that are used to wash our cars today.
Nanotechnology could also be the answer for car aficionados, keen to experiment with different colors on their favorite vehicle. Using nano paints, they could switch the color of their car in about a second at the mere press of a button! Since they are able to reflect light, nano paints can produce the complete spectrum of colors—really adding to the fun!
The applications of nanotechnology in the auto sector are innumerable. Developments include nanotech enhancement of automobile batteries, nano-particulate air filters, and ultrathin anti-glare layers for windows and mirrors. Future applications are likely to see energy-harvesting bodywork, self-healing paint, shape-shifting skin, and improved fuel cell performance of future electric and hydrogen-powered cars—all interesting advances that may well be driving the next wave of innovation in the automobile sector.
How else do you think nanotechnology could impact the automobile industry? Please leave your comments in the section below.