As a global hotspot for skin cancer problems, its not surprising that Australia is at the forefront of research into UV protection for the skin. What is surprising is the technology being applied to this end - by developing a process where particles one billionth of a meter long can be produced, Advanced Nano Technologies has manufactured a transparent zinc oxide that not only protects the skin, but also lets you see it.
ZinClear is a zinc oxide base for use as a UV absorber in sunscreens and cosmetics that produces the same broad spectrum UV protection as the white zinc creams we are familiar with. These conventional zinc oxide sunscreens are white because they consist of large particles and agglomerates that scatter and reflect visible light. The tiny particles in ZinClear remain discrete (ie. they don't stick together) and minimise the scatter of visible light, so the resulting skin cream remains clear in appearance while still blocking UV light.
Currently available in sunscreens such as Wet Dreams, the future of the product is seen as next generation of cosmetics that incorporate "hidden" sunscreen.Because it contains no chemical UV absorbers, the resulting sunscreen is a natural product that is suited to people with sensitive skin.
Applications for the "Nano Powders" produced by Advanced Nano Technologies patented Mechanochemical Processing go far beyond cosmetics however. Because the particles are on a quantum scale, the weird predictions of quantum physics start to become a reality, leading to enhancements in chemical, mechanical, optical, electronic and magnetic properties.
Advanced Nano Technologies was formed in 2000 as a joint venture between Samsung Corning and Advanced Powder Technology (APT), a spin-off from the University of Western Australia in Perth.