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Consumers will soon see the benefits of nanotech research, as a Pennsylvania-based company plans to use the technology to create socks that resist l'odour du fromage.

NanoHorizons has developed a technique for manufacturing nanoparticles (defined as particles smaller than 100nm) of gold and silver. Both metals are already incorporated into materials because of their antibacterial properties, but the manufacturing process is far from simple.

Metals can be mixed into a polymer in their macro form, but this uses a lot of metal which adds cost, weight, and can even change the properties of the material. Using nanoscale particles of the metals has several advantages, not least that because of their smaller size, a greater surface area is exposed with a smaller quantity of the metal.

Dr Stephen Fonash, NanoHorizons chairman, said that while "silver has been used since antiquity for its antimicrobial properties, these are the first commercially available noble metal nanoparticles engineered for use in plastic-based products, making them economically viable for innumerable products and applications".

He explained that the particles are terminated with specific surface chemistries and delivered in organic solvents. This makes them compatible with the polymer manufacturing process. The particles could be incorporated into a wide range of products, as well as socks, including other clothing, shoes, food containers and other plastic products. According to CNET, the company is already working with a sock manufacturer, and expects the products will be on the shelves within a year. ®

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