|Source: Nails, Inc.|
Apparently, as several DIY blogs explain, the "secret magnetic particles" contained in the polish "activate" in a magnetic field. Of course, a quick glance at the ingredients shows just plain iron powder, which, when dolled up with several layers of lacquer and clays, creates ripple patterns on the nail surface.
But hey, with companies like LCN and Sephora charging to the tune of $16 USD (for a 10 mL bottle!) the price is comparable to standard lab reagents.
|Sodium Zeolite A|
Source: British Zeolite Association
Of course, there's nitrocellulose, the shiny, potentially explosive major player, found for a time in movie film, gun cotton, and auto paint. Clays familiar to the bench chemist (bentonites, hectorites) make their way in as thickeners, including the fantastically-named bulking agent fluorophlogopite. This synthetic aluminosilicate calls to mind zeolites, inorganic structures used in fuel upgrading, gas storage, and catalysis.
One of the great features of chemical research: Even though you think you've seen it all, there's a surprise around the corner. After nitrocellulose, this particular brand uses an interesting copolymer of adipic acid, neopentyl glycol, and...trimellitic anhydride? I'd seen the first two, but never this, an interesting "triple-reactive" crosslinker (looks like maleic anhydride went for a crazy aromatic spin) which was first isolated in 1830 by Liebig and Wöhler, two heavyweights of 19th Century German chemistry.
This tetracyclic curing agent, an all-star of the coal tar chemistry in the early 1900s, found use as a curing agent in polymers as early as the '30s. New uses in the last 15 years include protein charge ladders and luminescent materials research.
Update (1/21/2012): Over at Chemical Novelty, Travis has dug deep in the patent literature to really see what this product is all about. Go have a peek!