Nanotechnology in Sports

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NanotechnologyinSports : 

NanotechnologyinSports “The Power of Small” Ankush Bagga

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What “EXACTLY” is Nanotechnology? An “exact” definition is elusive. Most agree that nanotechnology refers to a range of techniques used to manipulate atoms and molecules at the level of 1 billionth of a meter! Fact: Nanotech involves research and product development in the size range of 1 to 100nm. (only a few atoms wide).

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Why is it Better to be Small? At nano-sizes, many material display fundamentally different properties and exaggerated behaviours than in bulk form. Much of this change in characteristics is due to the massive increase in the particle’s surface area when it is nano size.

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Why is it Better to be Small? In a 30 nm particle, only 5% of its atoms are on its surface, But a 3 nm particle, over 50% of its atoms are on its surface. More atoms = greater reactivity Greater reactivity = massive improvements in mechanical properties. ▲ Strength ▲ Hardness ▼ Weight ▼ Friction “The Power of Nano Small”

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So…. Nanotechnology allows scientists to manipulate matter at the sub-100 nanometer level to produce new materials with the exact properties they desire: STRONGER – LIGHTER - RESILIENT

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Nanotechnology and Sports Nanotechnology is presently used to produce a variety of consumer products. One of its main application is in the field of Health and Fitness.

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Nanotechnology and Sports In sports, nanotechnology involves the use of several different elements and materials that become incorporated into specific sports equipment and attire to Improve Performance of Both the Equipment and the Athlete.

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Nanotechnology and Sports Nano-sized ingredients are now making a big impact in sport, particularly the use of carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are molecular-scale tubes of graphitic carbon that are strongest and stiffest of known fibers.

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How the Technology works… Carbon nanotubes are as stiff as diamonds and over 100x stronger and 6x lighter than steel! These are all attributes that make them ideal materials for sports equipment where strength and light weight are essential.

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How the Technology works… By combing small quantities of carbon nanotubes with resin polymers, scientists have created macro-scale nanotubes composite materials. The composites retain many of the nanotube properties including hardness, strength, wear resistance and reduced weight.

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How the Technology works… The weakest area in a tradition carbo-fiber composite is between the fibers that contain only resin. To radically improve strength and toughness in these critical areas, CNT are impregnated into the gaps to reinforce and toughen the resin matrix.

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How the Technology works… With the evolution of materials in sport, from wood to aluminum and titanium, then to high performance carbon-fiber, strength has increased and weight has decreased Nanocomposites far superior: 17x stronger than carbon fiber 360x stronger than aluminum

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The Nano-Enhanced Advantages: Enhanced Strength-to-Weight Ratio Spring-Like Effect Wear Resistance Increased Hardness Prolonged Durability Low Friction

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Product Development and Accessibility A Number of sporting companies offer nano-enhanced equipment. Every sport enthusiast wants to improve performance, which makes nanotechnology applications important in sports such as… Tennis, Golf, Biking, Skiing, Baseball, Swimming

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Product Development and Accessibility… EASTON/ BMC Bikes First bike with complete carbon – nanotube composite frame. Frame wt. 950g. Total wt. 7kg Use. Pro/ cross-country And tour racing Price. $3650.00

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Product Development and Accessibility… EASTON STEALTH CNT BASEBALL BATS Easton sports claim the stealth CNT baseball bat that features carbon nanotube composite has vastly improved performance – being stronger and lighter allows added length to the bat and a longer barrel has a bigger sweet spot. The sweet spot packs more power and more “kick” Use: Minor league baseball players Cost: $290.00

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Product Development and Accessibility… WILSON/ GRAFOLLOY Golf Improvements include: Lighter/ stronger shaft Lower center of gravity Increased power/ accuracy Better torsion stability Less ball spin Longer/ straighter shots Cost: $250.00

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Product Development and Accessibility… NANODYNAMICS GOLF BALLS: NDMX and NDLiNX Improvements Include: Hollow metal core and nano- enhanced polymer layer Force to outside of ball Less side-spin Reduced hook/ slice Straighter drives/ truer puts. Cost: $20 to $40 for 3

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Product Development and Accessibility… WILSON TENNIS RACKETS: n Code Racket Use a silicon dioxide nano crystal to enhance racket head and shaft. Improvements Include: 2x strength 2x stability 22% more power Can be used by tennis players who want to improve power in their serve and returns. Cost: Range from $100 to $500

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Product Development and Accessibility… WILSON/ INMAT Premium Tennis Balls Clay in fused nano inner layer of tennis ball improves air retention and increases durability. Can be used by anyone wanting a longer lasting ball. Official ball of Davis Cup and U.S. Open Cost: $1.00/ball

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Product Development and Accessibility… NITRO: PANTERA/ DARKHORSE SNOWBOARDS Nitro has introduced strong, light weight snowboards using what they call FX Smart Base with nano-composite technology. They use a full sheet of carbon nano tube enhanced composite to produce: Improved stiffness (pop value) Exceptional speed (reduced friction) low maintenance (no wax) Used by anyone wanting aggressive free-style snowboarding Cost: $350 to $450

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Disadvantages to Nanotechnology Health Concerns: With any new technology, there is always public concern about their effects on health and the environment. Many believe, that due to their small size and high reactivity, nanoparticles would easily leach out, causing respiratory problems and cancer, much like asbestos has in the past.

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Disadvantages to Nanotechnology Cost and Availability: $ $ $ A present, it is extremely expensive to produce nano particles. High grade carbon nanotubes can cost nearly $400,000 a kilogram! The goal with nanotechnology in sports is to push the boundaries of performance without pushing the price. To be at the best of their performance, elite athletes and many not so elite athletes want only the best of equipment. At present, nano-enhanced equipment is too expensive to be universally available to everyone.

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Disadvantages to Nanotechnology Tech-Doping: There is debate in the world of sports, that expensive high tech equipment allow less talented athletes to perform better than would be expected. During the 2009 Olympics numerous records were broken by athletes wearing the new LZR Racer swim suits. Does this technology give athletes a competitive edge? Will those athletes who are sponsored or can afford the technology have an unfair advantage? Or is tech-doping no big deal considering the remarkable talent of today’s athletes? Right or wrong? Who will decide?

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Advantages Revisited “Nanotechnology – The invisible Technology” The purpose of this presentation was to show only a small portion of current and possible future developments of nanotechnology in sports. The technology is in its infancy and as of August 2008, only 82 sport related products were available to consumers. Whether it’s a better performing golf club, tennis racket, vaulting pole or swim suit that makes you skim across water, nanotechnology has the potential to make exotic material that will allow athletes to go faster, higher and longer than ever before.

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Nano-Stronger and Nano Lighter In the past, any shift in material science has eventually altered sports. Nanotechnology is no exception. When winning or loosing is measured in milliseconds, than, nanotechnology in “sporting goods is all about stronger and lighter.” (Bob Thurman, director of research, Wilson sports)

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