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But anyway, back to the notion of an SiO2 based screen; there are so many people allergic to the agents in current use; SiO2 is chemically and biologically inert. (Unless you breathe in the dust.)


It is Zinc Oxide used in sunblock .
The only publicly traded nanotech pure play with measurable sales is Nanophase Technologies in Romeoville, Illinois, which probably lost more than $4 million on $4.2 million in sales last year. Its initial successes are in some rather mundane products, including zinc oxide, the goopy white sunblock that looks attractive only on a lifeguard's nose.

The traditional method for making zinc oxide is to grind it into crystals about 200 nanometers wide. Nanophase can make them as small as 50 nanometers wide, which renders the zinc oxide transparent—no more white goop—since each crystalline particle is small enough to allow harmless light to pass through. Sunburn-causing ultraviolet light, with its shorter wavelengths, bounces off the particles and never makes it to the skin.

Nanophase produces these particles by first vaporizing zinc rods in a 1,600-degree plasma-arc reactor, essentially a giantblowtorch. Clusters of zinc atoms then mix with a reactive gas, usually oxygen, and cool to a solid. Some 900 million of these zinc oxide crystals can fit in a single layer on the head of a pin.

The company shipped 250 tons of zinc oxide powder last year. Customers include BASF (for use in sunblocks) and Dr. Scholl's (for use as an antifungal agent in foot powder). "


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