As one example, nanoparticles of silver, which are so small that you can fit a million of them into a grain of sand, can be used in food packing as an anti-bacterial agent to extend the shelf life of products.
Professor Thomas Faunce from the Australian National University says there’s a lot of promise in the technology, but there are some groups like Friends of the Earth that are concerned about it.
“Controversy continues, it’s easy to overstate the risks and I think that would be a mistake, but at the same time there’s no doubt that things like nanosilver for example, which decreases bacterial or vital contamination of food, can be extremely dangerous in terms of the waterways, in terms of interfering with the food chain.”
Professor Faunce says that one of the areas that is of the most interest to him is the possibility of artificial photosynthesis.
Nanotechnology may change the way we grow and eat our food.
“If we look at what we’re covering the planet with as a species, all the asphalt and roads and buildings, they’re all just bludging. The real thrust of artificial photosynthesis globally is to use every single road, house, bridge, to turn that into a structure that is doing photosynthesis more than plants.”
It may be a while before we see buildings coated in nanoparticles that could produce starch like foodstuffs via artificial photosynthesis, but Professor Faunce says he’s hoping a number of upcoming conferences will cement the importance of the idea.