Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles: Production, Properties, and ApplicationsJuly 8, 2022
Zinc is one of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust. It is also the second most abundant metal after iron in many forms. It is found in nearly all plants and animals, with the highest concentrations in beef, poultry, cheese, eggs, whole-grain cereals, and nuts. The Earth’s crust alone contains about 63 million metric tons of zinc. The importance of zinc cannot be overstated. It is a vital component for hundreds of enzymatic reactions in humans and microorganisms.
Furthermore, it plays a vital role as a cofactor for several enzymes involved in the amino acid synthesis, which plays a critical role in protein synthesis and the formation of new cells. Organic anions such as hydroxide ions promote hydrolysis by nucleophilic agents such as alcohols to generate amino acids and peptides from their precursors. Therefore, it is not surprising that zinc has been used for centuries as a dietary supplement to increase resistance to disease and increase physical performance in athletes. Today there are many uses for zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO), ranging from pharmaceuticals to cosmeceuticals to food additives.
ZnO Nanopowder have been of great interest since their discovery in 1828. These nanoparticles are known for their outstanding promise in various fields, including pharmaceuticals, foods, cosmetics, and textiles. The general characteristics of ZnO as an antibacterial, photocatalyst, and UV absorber make them an ideal candidate for the use of nanotechnology. Zinc oxide is one of the most widely used nanomaterials due to its unique properties. The main properties that make ZnO attractive include its high surface area, low cost, and stability at high temperatures or under harsh conditions like sunlight or oxygen. Once produced in large quantities, ZnO Nanopowder have excellent storage properties, making them a desirable choice for packaging applications.
Zinc Oxide Production and Properties
ZnO Nanopowder are produced by the reduction of elemental zinc with an alkali. The reduction process occurs in a two-step process during which sodium amalgam or potassium amalgam is used as a reductant. After reduction, ZnO Nanopowder are collected by ultrasonication or precipitation. Removing zinc with alkali produces zinc oxide, a whitish powder, which is further reduced to produce nanoparticles. Reducing zinc with sodium or potassium makes a whitish powder with a specific surface area of about 150 m2/g.
The surface properties of ZnO nanoparticles are highly dependent on the surface area of zinc oxide and the reductant used during the reduction process. The more zinc oxide the nanoparticles have to start with, the more surface area they can have afterward. Therefore, it is not easy to give proper uses for ZnO Nanopowder. The surface area of nanoparticles is the leading property that makes them valuable for applications where they can be used as antibacterial agents, catalysts, or pigments. The antibacterial and photocatalytic properties of nanoparticles have been a recent discovery and are under research. For now, it can be said that these properties make ZnO Nanopowder perfect candidates for use in coatings for food or pharmaceuticals.
Zinc oxide nanoparticles: uses and advantages
• Highly wettable – Coating nanoparticles can increase the contact angle between water and the surface, increasing the surface’s wettability and the water absorption rate.
• Excellent antioxidants – They increase the antioxidant properties of the material they are added to. This can be seen as a promising application in food packaging where nanoparticles help preserve the foods by reducing oxidative reactions.
• Food grade – These nanoparticles are non-toxic and inert, so they can be added to food without any fear of adverse effects.
• Photocatalytic – These nanoparticles are promising photocatalysts and can be used to degrade organic pollutants from water and air or as a source of oxygen.
Applications of ZnO Nanoparticles
The wide applications of zinc oxide nanoparticles include coating, packaging, food and pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and anti-aging products. Many of these applications have been discussed briefly below.
Coatings: It can be used as a coating for paints, varnishes, and layers on plastic materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Coating zinc oxide nanoparticles on plastic materials increases their flexibility and resistance to wear, making them suitable for outdoor applications. This is an effective method to increase the wettability of surfaces and increase the rate of water absorption.
Packaging: It can make glass, paper, or PET materials more water-repellent and flexible. The coating of nanoparticles on glass can help improve glass’s transparency, while coating PET can increase its flexibility. If the packing goods are kept in water for a long time, the coating of nanoparticles on these goods can make them more water-repellent and flexible.
Food: It can be used for the preservation of foods. The coating of nanoparticles on foods like fruits, vegetables, or even meat can make them taste better and longer. The layer of ZnO nanoparticles on bread or biscuits can prevent them from getting stale and make them lighter and crisper.
Cosmetics: The potential of zinc oxide nanoparticles in cosmetic products is significant. The nanoparticles can be used in lipsticks, toothpaste, and other consumer goods. The coating of nanoparticles on cosmetics can change their appearance and make them look more natural.
Anti-aging: The anti-aging properties of zinc oxide nanoparticles have been widely discussed. The nanoparticles can be used as a skin protectant against UV rays and other environmental factors. The coating of nanoparticles on the skin makes it more hydrophilic and increases its capacity to maintain the moisture level in the dermis.
ZnO nanoparticles are one of the most widely used nanomaterials due to their unique properties. They are highly wettable, excellent antioxidants, and photocatalysts and can be used in coatings, packaging, food, cosmetics, and anti-aging products. The applications of zinc oxide nanoparticles are up-and-coming, and the demand for these nanoparticles is expected to increase in the coming years.
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