Wrinkle :: Nanotechnology shows promise as next wrinkle fighter

The next big idea in preventing wrinkles is very, very small.Nano small.A Michigan State University chemical engineer has discovered that nanoparticles can stop thin polymer films from buckling and wrinkling, and that could well work to join the war by warding off dreaded buckles in human skin.

It’s a new solution to a critical problem as thin films become more important in new technology such as electronic monitors.

The cosmetic arsenal to fight human wrinkles embraces technologies that seems crossed with science fiction ? from microdermabrasians to lasers to Botox injections ? and nanoparticles are poised to join the war by warding off dreaded buckles in human skin.

Ilsoon Lee, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, along with Ph.D. student Troy Hendricks, published an online article in the American Chemical Society’s Nano Letters in December 2006 that outlines the potential of using infinitesimally small nanoparticles ? 50nm ? between films to smooth out the tiny buckles that are the origin of wrinkles.

While the article addresses breakthroughs in the buckling of polymer films as they were compressed or heated during the manufacturing process, Ilsoon said the principles show promise to apply to human skin.

The research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

On all fronts, it’s all about nailing a wrinkle before it starts.

“Everything starts at a really small scale, so if we can prevent the buckling at the very beginning ? at the nano level ? we can eliminate large scale wrinkles,” Ilsoon said. “Wrinkles can initiate from the small scale, and when it grows we cannot remove it.”

Nanoparticles already have entered the cosmetic marketplace because they can penetrate deeper into the skin, transporting vitamins and other compounds to plump and smooth tissue. But Ilsoon envisions thin films that can be injected beneath the thinning outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, that over time stiffens and buckles with aging, and the thicker dermis beneath it, which remains more pliable over time. Think of a raisin.

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