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Nano in sports
and leisure

Fun and games with nano

It is often with sporting goods that new technologies make their first impact, and nanotechnology is no exception. Nano is behind the creation of lighter weight and much stronger materials for use in lots of different sports.

Lighter and stronger equipment

Some shin-pads for footballers are nano-structured plastics, because they are light weight and their increased strength means that thin layers offer sufficient protection from a kick on the shins.

However, for many sporting goods, the real advance has been with plastic materials containing carbon nanotubes to make them extremely strong, but also very light.

After Roger Federer won many tennis tournaments with his nano-enhanced racquet, most other professionals now use them because of the extra power that they generate.

These nanocomposite materials are now being used in squash and badminton racquets, baseball bats, hockey sticks, snowboards, skis, fishing rods and poles, golf balls and golf clubs. Floyd Landis won the Tour de France on a lightweight cycle which had a nano-based plastic frame, and now it is possible to buy mountain bikes with plastic frames.

Better balls

Nano clay materials are also used in the linings of footballs and tennis balls as barrier materials which retain the pressure in the ball for longer.

Sports textiles and clothing

Waterproof jackets are essential in the British climate as is wind resistant clothing, but as you get warmer, by running or walking, the jacket or trousers have to allow the moisture to escape otherwise you would sweat profusely. Nano treated fabrics are being used to provide these ‘breathable’ materials.

Yachts are now using sails based on new nano fabrics so that they gather more wind and are waterproof. The latest yacht masts are built using carbon nanotubes rather than aluminium for added lightness and strength.

Antibacterial fabrics based on silver nanoparticles are used extensively for sports socks as well as ones for day-to-day wear, just to keep the odours at bay. Jackets and towels are also using nano silver to kill bacteria.

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