Nanotech Does Have an Impact on Formula 1

A few weeks back I commented on a conference that at the time was soon to take place and would address the topic of how nanotechnology could be, or is, applied to Formula 1.

I wondered what were the applications for nanotech in the highly regulated world of Formula 1 racing and whether a conference that had topics on its agenda like “Low Carbon Vehicle Initiative and Funding Opportunities” would really be able to address my curiosity.

We now have a first-hand account of the conference and a little insight into the applications of nanotech in Formula 1 that apparently weren’t addressed within the conference.

As to the accounting of the conference, no real surprises. It was put together by a UK-based metrology group and focused primarily on…metrology.

However, TNTLog in following up on the issue of applications in Formula 1 came across an interesting application that the conference organizers neglected. It seems that last year McLaren used the rather high-profile A123 battery technology on its cars.

TNTLog notes: “As far as I know, nanotechnology was used in the 2009 season, with McLarens KERS system using A123s nano phosphate lithium ion batteries as a result of their combination of weight and charge/discharge capacity.”

It would also seem that the more strict and specific Formula 1 attempts to makes its rules on the use of nanomaterials, the more ripe it is for loopholes. When one considers the money difference a sponsor is willing to pay for a pole-position car and that of one on the back row, we are likely to see more and more ingenious uses of nanotech.



IEEE Spectrum’s nanotechnology blog, featuring news and analysis about the development, applications, and future of science and technology at the nanoscale.

Dexter Johnson
Madrid, Spain
Rachel Courtland
Associate Editor, IEEE Spectrum
New York, NY