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Spray-On Glass: Coming Soon To……Everything?

 I’ve loved nanotechnology since I first read about it in the 80’s thanks to Bob. I read Drexler’s Engines of Creation and it changed the way I look at technology and the future of Humanity. Bob and I have been quietly waiting for any news of its development. Sadly there was very little until in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I think things changed when nanotubes were created. Since then I find tons of articles, research and soon to be technologies that are just about to pop. Yesterday I read about the coolest nanotech based product so far…and I think its going to be huge. So huge that within a few years it will be used everywhere.

A German company named Nanopool has invented Spray-On Glass ( “SiO2 ultra-thin layering”) and it’s kick ass with a capital Cartman. Nanopool has patented and tested a product that is essentially a spray-able liquid glass that can protect almost any product you can think of. The liquid is made almost entirely of silicon dioxide (the main ingredient of glass) with no additional naon-particles, resins or other additives. I can’t find any red-flags that point to a scam or hyperbole or scientific naiveté. The liquid glass is composed of almost pure silicon dioxide, the chemical constituent of quartz or silica, the most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust. It is inert and has no known harmful impact on the environment. It can

“protect virtually any surface against almost any damage from hazards such as water, UV radiation, dirt, heat, and bacterial infections […] the coating is also flexible and breathable, which makes it suitable for use on an enormous array of products.”

Here are the specs…It’s 15 and 30 molecules thick, flexible and breathable. Because the surface is so smooth it has anti-bacterial properties. Bacteria can’t stick to it. This means that if it’s applied to sterile surfaces you can clean it with hot water. No chemicals needed. No chemicals means it will dramatically be less expensive to clean and is about as green as you can get.

Nanopool wrote:

The flexible and breathable glass coating is approximately 100 nanometres thick (500 times thinner than a human hair), and so it is completely undetectable. It is food safe, environmentally friendly (winner of the Green Apple Award) and it can be applied to almost any surface within seconds . When coated, all surfaces become easy to clean and anti- microbially protected (Winner of the NHS Smart Solutions Award ). Houses, cars, ovens, wedding dress or any other protected surface become stain resistant and can be easily cleaned with water ; no cleaning chemicals are required. Amazingly a 30 second DIY application to a sink unit will last for a year or years, depending on how often it is used. But it does not stop there – the coatings are now also recognized as being suitable for agricultural and in-vivo application. Vines coated with SiO2 don’t suffer from mildew, and coated seeds grow more rapidly without the need for anti-fungal chemicals. This will result in farmers in enjoying massively increased yields . Trials for in-vivo applications are subject to a degree of secrecy, but Neil McClelland, the UK Project Manager for Nanopool GmbH, describes the results as “stunning”. “Items such as stents can be coated, and this will create anti sticking features – catheters , and sutures which are a source of infection, will also cease to be problematic.”

Tests have also shown that when seeds are coated with liquid glass they are protected against fungal attacks and they germinate and grow faster than untreated seeds.

We are seeing an early application of nanotechnology that has incredible properties. At the same time my excitement mounts I’m also hoping that companies are cautious. We need to be very carful as industry moves toward nano-scale products. This is not something we can afford to wait on since this technology is available in Germany right now and will be available in the UK in early 2010.

In the meantime I’m going to celebrate by having 100,000 nanobeers with Bob.

17 comments to Spray-On Glass: Coming Soon To……Everything?

  • Is there a limit to the materials it will stick to? Can it be used to coat non-stick surfaces like teflon I wonder. It does sound exciting and I am looking forward to seeing its first commercial applications (no pun intended!)

  • I’m sure there are limits to what it will stick to…teflon is probably at the top of the list!

  • eean

    I’m guessing its pretty expensive though? Especially given that the example was a wedding dress and not a pair of jeans.

  • Techskeptic


    Teflon can stick to glass


    There is a lot to how its applied. Who knows if “spray on” will do the trick.

  • plob218

    Did anyone else hear Billy Mays’ voice while reading this? “IT MAKES YOUR SEEDS GROW FASTER, STRONGER, AND BIGGER THAN EVER! YOURS FOR ONLY $19.95!” But honestly, it does sound like an incredible product. Here’s hoping it comes to fruition in some form in the near future.

  • It’s already available in Germany.

  • When somebody gonna invent spray on ASS?

  • Cain

    Couldn’t this also be applied to teeth?

  • Cobey Cobb

    Holy Crap! This stuff sounds amazing. I have a feeling it will be everywhere in the next couple of years.

    Finally I will be able to travel back to Roswell 1947 and have a can of spray-on glass that will coat my body with army attire. Toilets will be so clean you can eat off of them, and I plan to!!

  • John Draeger

    Okay, sounds great. But maybe the silica will flake off, and maybe in very small particles, which if inhaled might pose a health threat. Steve probably learned about silicosis in medical school somewhere and perhaps he had the same initial response to this spray-on glass as I did. Read the Wiki. article on silicosis if you haven’t heard of it.

  • Drum Billet


    It’s apparently only going to be about £5 a bottle (~$8) when it comes to the UK.

  • I was also wondering how sturdy it would be. If you cover a wedding dress with an incredibly thin layer of glass, how is it not going to crack into minuscule shards when you dance around?

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by SkepticsGuide: Check out Jay’s latest blog post about a new product made with nanotechnology. http://www.theness.com/roguesgallery/?p=1319

  • Jim Shaver

    Nice article, Jay. Thanks.

    BTW, 100,000 nanobeers is only one ten-thousandth of a beer. For some reason, I guess I thought you and Bob partied better than that. 🙂

  • Because the glass is so thin..we are talking 30 or less molecules thin..it must be pliable. From what I read you can’t even see that the product has been applied. Keep in mind that none of these claims have been vetted.

  • Jim.. man I was off by a few zeros. Being that I usually drink 40’s I was WAY off!

  • John Draeger

    This is a late comment, but I thought it necessary to clarify my earlier comment.

    Respirable silica is only hazardous if it’s crystalline. It doesn’t appear to be crystalline from the photo – looks amorphous – so it may be completely safe even if it does flake off in small respirable-sized particles. It’s been approved for use in Germany, and apparently the UK, so there’s a good chance it will be approved in other countries as well.

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