According to recent reports, nanotechology – controlling matter at an atomic and molecular level (thanks, Wikipedia!) – is about to hit the automobile world full-force. And the results could be both good and bad.

First, a few examples of the good: First we have a German chemicals company called Lanxess that's used nanotechnology to create tires that perform better than traditional rubber in both overall performance and wear. Secondly, under the hood of BMW's diesel models is a particulate filter coated with tiny carbon nanotubes, enabling it to remove 99 percent of all particulate matter. And finally, Mercedes-Benz has partnered with PPG to create a nanotech paint with a glass-like outer coating that's three-times less likely to scratch.

According to Wards Auto, though, nano particles "can behave in unexpected ways, passing through human skin into the blood or even brain." While we're not experts, the idea of nano particles on the brain doesn't sound very enticing. It's also not fully understood how these tiny materials can damage the environment and nature. In deference to these facts, the European Union is reportedly considering how best to define nano particles so it can regulate the technology.

The United States is also looking into nanotechnology regulations. Sally Tinkle, senior science advisor to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said, "The technology is new enough that we are not yet looking at tires or car bumpers that have nano elements and which have reached the end of their lives... But we understand the immediacy of these questions and the need to protect public health and the environment."

[Source: Wards Auto]