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Welcome to our blog, where you can keep up-to-date with the latest P2i news and developments. We will post articles regarding news, events we attend, speaker presentations as well as explaining the nanotechnology industry.

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Thursday, 29 November 2012

How small is small?

If you have visited p2i.com, seen our collateral or even watched our videos then you will be aware that we refer to our technology as 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. Which is pretty small, but exactly how small is small?

In this post we will look at how small nanometres really are, as well as posting some interesting facts.


What is small?

The word nano originates from the Greek word for dwarf, but today, the term nano more commonly refers to anything that is 'incrediblly small' or to be precise - one billionth (10-9) times smaller than a metre.

To put this into perspective the smallest object visible to the naked human eye is a single strand of human hair, anything smaller than that and we need the help of microscopes to see them. And even more sophisticated and expensive microscopes are required before building blocks such as hydrogen atoms become visible. In fact, you would need to line up 10 hydrogen atoms in a row just to equal one nanometre!

Powers of Ten:

To measure size, either large or small, the calculations required to do so are done in powers of ten, as you can see below:


To get our heads around this subject in a more understandable way, in 1997 a video was produced which takes the viewer on a journey of magintudes. Called Powers of Ten, the video is still very influential today. Every 10 seconds the viewing point starts from ten times further away, eventually reaching the edge of the known galaxy. At this point we then return to Earth at the same speed, ending inside one of the smallest objects visible; a carbon atom. It is a great representation of scale in comparasion to our own size as human beings and you can watch it below:


More recently, a modern version of this video has been produced narrated by Morgan Freeman which you can see here:


Some interesting facts:

We have all heard of red blood cells and DNA, but have you ever wondered how small they actually are? Below are some of these objects and their relative size:
  • Grain of Rice =  1 Millimeter
  • Red Blood Cell =  5-7 Microns in length (5000 Red blood cells would fit into 1 inch)
  • DNA = 1 Micron
  • Common Cold Virus = 0.0001 Micron or 75-100nm wide
Did you know that the average human finger nail grows at around 1 nanometer(nm) per second? And if your were able to strech a meter a distance of 1690 miles (roughly the same distance as Melbourne to Perth in Australia), a nanometre would only be the size of a parecetol or asprin tablet.

So as you can see, when we talk about the nanoscale, we are working in incredibly small dimensions.

P2i's nano-coating technology:

It is amazing to know that so much activity is going on, on scales of size that are sometimes hard to comprehend.

Our coating, which is measured in nanometers is molecularly bonded to products surfaces inside and out, offering superior liquid repellency. As mentioned earlier, the coating is 1000 times thinner than a human hair and invisible to the naked eye, in fact it is so small that it does not change the look or feel of the surface it is applied to.

You can find out more about our technology here as well as seeing how it is applied in the following video:


As always, if you have any questions about nanotechnology or our coating, just ask.

Monday, 19 November 2012

To Repel or not to Repel? That is the Question!

As you know we have been experimenting with our water repellent coating to discover if it can turn normally water absorbent and dissolvable items into repellent ones.

 
So far we have published 11 different Repellent Files including:
  • Berocca
  • Coffee
  • Sponges
  • Sugar Cubes
  • Mentos (& Diet Coke)
If you have not seen what happens when a pack of Mentos are dropped in Diet Coke, get on YouTube and have a look, it is worth it.

Each week we look to publish a new video on our YouTube channel, but if you have any suggestions of products or items you would like to see featured in the Repellent Files do let us know in the comment box at the end of this post and who knows you could see your suggestion feature in one of our videos!

You can watch all the Repellent Files we have posted so far below and remember to check out our channel, Twitter and Facebook accounts for the next instalment this Friday.

Case #1: Teabag


Case #2: Berocca Tablets


Case #3: The Biscuit Dunk


Case #4: Anyone for Coffee?


Case #5: Sugar Cubes


Case #6: Sponges


Case #7: Mentos & Diet Coke


Case #8: Newspapers


Case #9: Water Droplets


Case #10: A Water Droplets Journey



Hope you enjoyed watching them! If so, subscribe to our channel to be alerted whenever we put a new video up.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Headsets that work as hard as you do

In today's world, the relationship we have with our electronics has never been closer. From exercising in the gym or great outdoors, to work environments such as meetings and conference calls, electronic devices are everywhere to be seen.

We take for granted the reliability of our devices. We expect them to operate normally even in 'risky' locations such as being caught out in bad weather or during/after exercise where devices come into contact with our sweat and moisture.

In these conditions, devices can meet a premature end, as any form of liquid can cause damage and corrosion. And while the thought of water damage is not a pleasant one, help is at hand in the form of headsets from Plantronics.

Water, sweat, humidity and moisture all present a constant threat to headsets. Extensive regular use results in increased moisture build-up, which can either reduce performance or in the worst case, cause device malfunction.

Recognising the threat, Plantronics have incorporated P2i's nano-coating technology onto the new Voyager Legend™ Bluetooth® headset as well as the soon to be launched BackBeat® GO earbuds.
Plantronics Voyager Legend™ - Protected by P2i technology
With a thickness the equivalent to one thousandth that of a human hair, the coating does not change the look or feel of the headsets yet protects both the inside and outside of the products from moisture damage.

What this means to the wearer is that they can be confident the headsets will withstand the damage of everyday life. P2i's nano-coating ensures that liquids simply run off the headsets instead of getting inside and damaging the internal components.

Plantronics have produced a range of video around both headsets but you can watch the main Voyager Legend™ commercial below:


You can also find out more on the Voyager Legend™ and P2i's moisture protection here as well as details on the BackBeat® GO here.

We are very excited about this relationship and the response to the headsets has been very positive, with the Voyager Legend™ already receiving recognition, including the September Editor's Choice award from CNET.

Whatever challenges your day to day life presents, Plantronics Voyager Legend™ and BackBeat® GO® headsets featuring P2i's nano-coating moisture protection will meet them head on.

Find out more about our coating here: www.p2i.com/electronics

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Butterfly Effect

If you live in the UK and happened to have tuned into BBC 1 at 9pm on Monday, you would have noticed a programme called Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature. If you missed it, the first episode entitled: Super-Bodies can be seen on the BBC iPlayer now (UK only).

But why highlight this you maybe asking? Good question. Well, the answer is quite simple, we featured in it from 45 minutes in :)

The show, which has three, one-hour episodes, follows Richard Hammond around the world as he takes a closer look at some amazing animals and how their natural abilities are inspiring new technological developments. In the show, we learn how the way a giraffe controls it blood pressure when bending down to drink has inspired the development of fighter pilot suits to combat the stresses of g-forces. In addition, did you know that a woodpecker's skull is teaching us how to develop more protective crash helmets - demonstrated in the show by dropping a light bulb from space in a protective casing designed to be like the scull of the woodpecker.

As the episode approaches its conclusion, attention turns to South America, in particular the rainforest, where a creature with a unique ability lives, the Morpho Butterfly.


The Morpho Butterfly - As seen of BBC 1s Miracles of Nature
So what makes this butterfly unique? As you can imagine, living in the forests of South America, it rains alot, and if only a fraction of water was to be absorbed into its wing, the result would cause the butterfly to be unstable as the water would make their wings heavy and flying impossible. However, the butterfly combats this with a clever adaption, its wings are totally water repellent, meaning that any rain drops that do come into contact with it, simply bead up and roll off. Sounding familiar?

In nature, there are many examples of animals and plants that have developed water repellent surfaces to ensure they stay dry - the lotus leaf being one particular example. And of course, we have all heard of the expression 'like water off a duck's back'? Which although has different connotations, does originally refer to the way a ducks feathers repel water, staying light and dry even when submerged.

How is it then that the Morpho butterfly, lotus leaf and feathers from a duck repel water so well? To answer that you need a microscope with significant zoom. While the wings on the Morpho butterfly look and feel smooth, when viewed on the nanoscale (x1000) it is clear that they are actually made up of millions of tiny ridges. Although we can't see it with the naked eye, these invisible ridges ensure that only the smallest amounts of water actually comes into contact with the surface, resulting in the water remaining in droplet/bead form and simply rolling off.

If you are familiar with our technology you will know that any water that comes into contact with our coating beads up and rolls off. There is however a difference as to how this roll off effect is created. Our technology is applied as a surface chemistry, meaning the coating is molecularly bonded to the surface of products given it a low surface energy in order to repel water. The butterfly however, has a natural surface roughness to its wings which creates an air-liquid interface which effectively lowers the surface energy and repels water. In nature this technique works well but the reason we use a surface chemistry over roughness is due to its durability. When a roughness coating is applied to man-made objects it is not chemically bonded to its surface resulting in the durability and repellency diminishing very quickly. Not a problem in nature as the butterfly can replace its surface when required but in man-made products, a surface chemistry such as P2i technology is a more effective and reliable option for repelling water.
 
We achieve this water repellency by placing complete products within a chamber where our coating is applied in a gas form, molecularly bonding to both the external and internal materials, altering their surface energy. The result: a completely water repellent product. You can see how our coating is applied to smartphones in our video below:


For Miracles of Nature, the BBC wanted to take it one step further and we were tasked with treating more unusual items, such as a newspaper, egg carton and an entire white suit. To see the results you will have to watch the show, it is worth it we promise, but below are some stills to give you a little teaser:

Water repellent newspaper
 
Water repellent egg carton

Hydrophobic suit (As seen on BBC 1s Miracles of Nature)
As a finale, Richard discusses a dilemma that a lot of us have perhaps experienced but never really spoken about... dropping our phones down the toilet. According to the show, 19% of us admitted to having suffered this first hand! And in the majority of cases the results have not been good, e.g. a broken and dead phone.
 
This however is no longer a problem, as Richard demonstrates by dropping a P2i treated smartphone down the toilet, retrieving it when a call comes through and answering it. This showcases that with our water repellent coating, smartphones and other electronics need no longer fear accidental splashes, spill and the dreaded drop down the toilet.
 
Do check out the show if you can and if you have any questions about our technology, don't hesitate to ask in the comment box below or you can also reach us on Facebook and Twitter.
 
We will leave you will a slow-motion clip of a smartphones meeting with water but don't worry this phone was treated!
 
 
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