NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, 2006/09/04 - These days we are debating if nanoparticles in sunblock and toothpaste are safe. The ancient Greeks and Romans didn't know about such things - but they already used nanotechnology in their cosmetics.
A group of researchers in France showed that lead-based chemistry, which was initiated in Egypt more than 4000 years ago, could result in the synthesis of lead sulfide (PbS, galena) nanocrystals. With a diameter of about 5 nm, the appearance of these crystals is quite similar to PbS quantum dots synthesized by modern materials science techniques.
Dr. Philippe Walter from the Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France (C2RMF-CNRS) in Paris explained these recent findings to Nanowerk: "For thousands of years, cosmetics have been used and were made by the judicious combination of naturally available minerals with oils, various creams, or water. Since the Greco-Roman period, organic hair dyes obtained from plants such as henna have been used, but other unusual formulas based on lead compounds, such as the recipes describing several methods to dye hair and wool black, were also common. It is remarkable that these Greco-Roman techniques have been used up to modern times."
Walter, a Senior Research Scientist at the C2RMF-CNRS and head of the AGLAE and analytical chemistry goup, together with colleagues from the Laboratoire d'étude des microstructures from the French national aerospace research center and L'Oréal Research in France, as well as Argonne National Laboratory in the U.S., showed that an ancient dyeing process for blacking hair is a remarkable illustration of synthetic nanoscale biomineralization.
"In contrast to modern nanotechnology, the dyeing process is characterized by basic chemistry methods and has been developed more than 2000 years ago with low-cost natural materials" Walter points out.
Read the full article on the Nanowerk website.
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By Michael Berger, Copyright 2006 Nanowerk LLC.