Besides making wigs, or perhaps some rather bizarre clothing and artwork, there aren't a lot of practical uses for discarded human hair. But that could change thanks to a team of Japanese and South Korean chemists.

Published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, the team has demonstrated the use of human hair to grow catalytic nanoparticles (i.e., nanoparticles that are capable of carrying out chemical reactions).

Why human hair? Nanoparticles, like crystals, often need to be grown on something, particularly if they are going to be immobilized for the purpose of carrying out chemical reactions. Various support structures have been used, from wood to...

Nanoparticles via Shutterstock Nanoparticles via Shutterstock

We have all been there, waiting outside the velvet rope peering in – knowing that what keeps us from having a great night are the big, mean bouncers standing guard.  This time, however, we’ve come prepared. We are wearing the outfit – the one that not even the meanest bouncer is immune to.

This is a rather apt metaphor for nanoparticles —microscopic particles that have multiple applications — especially for cancer drug delivery. ...