Quantum dots are a microscopic tool used in enhancing many things like solar panels or even treatments for cancer. However, it is the first time when scientists have discovered a cheap way of creating them. They used some chemicals and green leaf extract.
Why is this discovery so important? Well, until now, creating quantum dots was very costly, and it generated a lot of waste. It would be obvious to cost so much, as a quantum dot, which measures 2-5 nanometers is smaller than our antibodies (10 nanometers wide). Our hair is almost about 40,000 nanometers wide!
A Cheap and Environment-Friendly Ingredient
Researchers realized that they can use these tiny dots in medicine and other technology that required the smallest particles ever.
A team of researchers at Wales’ Swansea University found a cost-effective way to produce quantum dots from Camellia sinensis leaf extract. The leaf is the one people brew green and black tea. Replacing conventional ingredients made the process cheaper, and the waste was non-toxic.
The team also discovered that the quantum dots could penetrate the skin and stop the growth of 80% of the cancer cells in a sample in the lab.
However, using extracts from green tea leaves doesn’t mean that green tea can now cure cancer. Researchers used both green tea leaf extract and chemicals like cadmium sulfate and sodium sulfide.
Moreover, the experiment which stopped the growth of cancer by 80% in a petri dish does not mean that a cure for cancer is ready.
But the great news is that two important issues were solved: the cost was decreased, and the waste is non-toxic, with no impact on the environment.
The next step will be to start manufacturing quantum dots on a larger scale. Then they will refine quantum dots to be used in medicine and biotechnology. In the future, we will see quantum dots used in treating different diseases or in building better technology.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.