November 24, 2007

A Photoelectric Toothbrush

titanium containing toothbrushesResearchers have devised a toothbrush that would not need any toothpaste to work. This no-toothpaste toothbrush, sold under the name 'soladey', uses a unique mechanism to clean your teeth.

Modern toothpaste contains a variety of agents including dentrifices (abrasive agents), inorganic salts, fluoride and detergents for production of adequate foam. This new technology however employs 'photoelectric effect' (originally described by Albert Einstein and he got Nobel Prize for it). The brush (or its flexible bristles) are made up of Titanium dioxide; a compound used in a variety of applications ranging from artificial food color to aerospace industry to air purifier and chewing gum whiteners. They are also used as sunscreens (as they protect us from UV light) and as photocatalysts.

This titanium containing tooth brush, when activated by light emits electrons. Light (electromagnetic wave; photons) of a certain frequency (above the threshold frequency for activation) excites the electrons present in the compounds' outer shell, which jumps off and is emitted as a result (photoelectric effect). Researchers are harnessing these emitted electrons to neutralize the protons (H+), found in the acidic dental plaques (Lewis acid:proton donors).

There is one catch though. It needs light to exhibit its photocatalytic activities. So people are shining desktop lights into their mouths while brushing their teeth. Users' satisfaction is excellent. The light can be shown by means of fiber-optic technology in the near future, through the brush itself.

So, How About Wooing Electrons To Clean Your Teeth?
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