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The Competitive Edge: Nanotechnology in Sports

Posted by :Cambrian

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Nanotechnology: Where and Why

Nanotechnology has had a huge impact on the sports world. We can see it in lacrosse sticks, baseball bats, mountain and racing bikes, golf clubs, swimsuits, and in many other kinds of sports equipment. The many benefits of nanotechnology are the reason why we are heading there for sportswear. Nanotechnology can provide durability, decreased weight, strength, flexibility, stability, and stiffness.

How it works

The word nanotechnology is thrown around often without definitions or explanations. Nanotechnology refers to scientists manipulating the structure of molecules. Structure determines function. Diamonds and coal are both comprised of carbon; the only difference between them is their structure. One advancement in nanotechnology is the Carbon Nanotube (CNT). This carbon tube structure is extremely light, hard, and conductive. It can be seen in expensive baseball bats and golf clubs. Silica nanoparticles (SNP) provide flexibility and can be found in tennis rackets. Nano-clay lines the inside of high-end sports balls.

Providing Safety

Nanotechnology has great possibilities for providing safety to players, especially in contact sports. Brigham Young University has been using nanotechnology to create foam that lines the insides of football helmets. This is called ExoNanoFoam. This foam not only protects the head better, but it also relays information on shock damage to the coach. In a game even if the players don’t show signs of wear, the coaches and staff will know how hard they have been hit.

The Ethical Impacts: “Technology Doping”

These great sports materials are extremely expensive. Because of this, nanotechnology creates an unfair advantage for wealthy players. The most widely known example is recorded in The Guardian. It is the Speedo LZR Racer bodysuit. This hydrodynamic swimsuit uses trapped air to “increase buoyancy and reduce drag.” It won 90% of the swimming gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was later banned by Fina; the world water sport association. There now are rules regarding nanotechnology in almost all of the international sporting associations. People are most worried about cycling and automobile racing. The new term for this use of technology in sports is called “technology doping.” This issue remains extremely controversial. Hopefully we will come to an agreement on the use of this profound technology soon.


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Tag(s) : sports, carbon, advancement, ethics, controversy, technology doping,    

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