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Nanosilver: A new name -- well-known effects
Date:1/31/2011

This release is available in French and German.

Numerous nanomaterials are currently at the focus of public attention. In particular silver nanoparticles are being investigated in detail, both by scientists as well as by the regulatory authorities. The assumption behind this interest is that they are dealing with a completely new substance. However, Empa researchers Bernd Nowack and Harald Krug, together with Murray Heights of the company HeiQ have shown in a paper recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology that nanosilver is by no means the discovery of the 21st century. Silver particles with diameters of seven to nine nm were mentioned as early as 1889. They were used in medications or as biocides to prevent the growth of bacteria on surfaces, for example in antibacterial water filters or in algaecides for swimming pools.

The material has always been the same

The nanoparticles were known as "colloidal silver" in those days, but what was meant was the same then as now extremely small particles of silver. The only new aspect is the use today of the prefix "nano". "However," according to Bernd Nowack, "nano does not mean something new, and nor does it mean something that is harmful." When "colloidal silver" became available on the market in large quantities in the 1920s it was the topic of numerous studies and subject to appropriate regulation by the authorities. Even in those days the significance of the discovery of nanoparticles and how they worked was realized. "That is not to say that the possible side-effects of nanoparticles on humans and the environment should be played down or ignored," adds Nowack. It is important to characterize in exact detail the material properties of nanosilver and not just to believe unq
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Contact: Dr. Bernd Nowack
bernd.nowack@empa.ch
41-712-747-692
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)
Source:Eurekalert

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