Scientists develop ‘nanosphere’ paint that could reduce carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft

Paint may not seem like the heaviest component to consider when building a large device like an airplane, but its mass can add up. Now a new and lightweight substance may provide a welcome substitute: Two materials scientists at Kobe University, Fuji Minoru and Sugimoto Hiroshi, have discovered nanospheres, which are nearly invisible silicon crystals. Particles can reflect light thanks to very large and efficient scattering, research published in the journal ACS Applied Nano Matter details. The result can mean covering a surface in vibrant colors while adding only 10 percent of the weight that paint would carry, Fast company reports.

This reduction can have a huge impact on factors such as costs and carbon dioxide produced. Simply put, an airplane must use more fuel as its weight grows, thus directly increasing the amount of money airlines spend (and then charge customers), along with the amount of fuel burned as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Minoru and Hiroshi’s discovery focuses on structural rather than pigment color to show and maintain hues. The former absorbs wavelengths while reflecting those that the human eye perceives. According to Encyclopedia of Nanotechnology.

The team’s work follows previous research in which they were able to build nanocrystals down to a specific size. Next came the creation of a conversational suspension that keeps the crystalline silicon nanoparticles mixed with a supporting fluid instead of separating. Currently, the color of the nanosphere-based ink varies as the team varies the sizes of the nanocrystals. Larger particles create warm hues like red, while smaller particles show cooler tones like blue. These shades should remain identical regardless of the angle at which one sees them.

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