KNOXVILLE, Tenn., July 21 (UPI) -- English ivy nanoparticles may be key to more effective sunblocks, U.S. researchers suggest.
Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville say tiny particles secreted from the rootlets of the ivy plant that enable the plant to cling to fences and walls show great promise for use in adhesives and drug delivery and, due to light dispersal qualities, in sunblocks.
"Nanoparticles exhibit unique physical and chemical properties due to large surface-to-volume ratio which allows them to absorb and scatter light," study leader Zhang says in a statement. "Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are currently used for sunscreen for the same reason, but the ivy nanoparticles are more uniform than the metal-based nanoparticles, and have unique material properties, which may help to enhance the absorption and scattering of light, and serve better as a sun-blocker."
Zhang and colleagues say the ivy nanoparticles may help protect skin from UV radiation at least four times better than the metal-based sunblocks now on store shelves.
Besides also being less toxic and more biodegradable, Zhang notes the ivy nanoparticles sunblocks may have two other advantages -- being invisible on the skin and requiring less reapplication, because the plant's nanoparticles adhesiveness may make the sunblock harder to wash off.