A non-toxic and environmentally friendly way to make nanorods of zinc oxide has been developed for the first time by researchers in Saudi Arabia.
The approach developed by researchers at King Khalid University and King Abdul-Aziz University could allow the nanorods to be used safely in biomedical and other applications.
The team demonstrated that it can synthesise zinc oxide nanorods with a simple reaction of water and zinc powder at a relatively low temperature.
The zinc powder is added to water, blasted with ultrasound for a few minutes and then warmed at a temperature of 200ºC for 24 hours.
After using X-ray and field emission electron microscopy to reveal the structure of the product, the researchers found that they could produce uniform nanorods of 30nm to 100nm.
Researcher M A Shah of King Khalid University said that his team’s approach is suitable for the large-scale production of a variety of zinc oxide nanostructures.
The researchers claim that zinc oxide has many applications when fabricated as nanoparticles and nanorods only 100nm in diameter. In such a nanoscopic form, it could be a zinc nutrient in food products such as breakfast cereals. It could also be used in dentistry and cosmetic ointments, creams and lotions to protect against sunburn and skin damage caused by ultraviolet light.
Zinc oxide also has potential applications in gas leak warning devices. It could act as a sensor for detecting changes in electric current due to the absorption of gas molecules.
As a biosensor, the researchers believe that it could be used as a biomimic membrane to immobilise and modify biomolecules.