Nanotechnology versus the present day

Nanotechnology versus the present day

Nanotechnology versus the present day

One of the words that have given technology as we once knew it a new name is nanotechnology. The attachment of nano to technology has turned up the present day world to a whole new level, most of the things we would have called miracle or magic has been daily occurrences since the intro of nanotechnology.  Due to the unraveling wonder that accompanied nanotech, The US National Science Foundation predicts that the global market for nanotech-based products will exceed US$1 trillion within 15 year. Paul Miller, senior researcher at the British policy research organization Demos, said in 2002 that "already, roughly one-third of the research budgets of the biggest science-based firms in the US is going into nanotech" whilst the US National Nanotechnology Initiative's budget rose from US$116 million in 1997 to a requested US$849 million in 2004.

  Right now let’s try giving this big word a befitting definition

Nanotechnology is a field of research and innovation concerned with building 'things' - generally, materials and devices - on the scale of atoms and molecules. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter: ten times the diameter of a hydrogen atom. The diameter of a human hair is, on average, 80,000 nanometers. At such scales, the ordinary rules of physics and chemistry no longer apply. For instance, materials' characteristics, such as their color, strength, conductivity and reactivity, can differ substantially between the nano-scale and the macro. Carbon 'nanotubes are 100 times stronger than steel but six times lighter.

The ideas and concepts behind nanoscience and nanotechnology started with a talk entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) on December 29, 1959, long before the term nanotechnology was used. In his talk, Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules. Over a decade later, in his explorations of ultraprecision machining, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology. It wasn't until 1981, with the development of the scanning tunneling microscope that could "see" individual atoms, that modern nanotechnology began.

It’s hard to imagine just how small nanotechnology is. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or 10-9 of a meter. Here are a few illustrative examples:

  • There are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch
  • A sheet of newspaper is about 100,000 nanometers thick
  • On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth

Nanoscience and nanotechnology involve the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules. Everything on Earth is made up of atoms—the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the buildings and houses we live in, and our own bodies.

But something as small as an atom is impossible to see with the naked eye. In fact, it’s impossible to see with the microscopes typically used in a high school science classes. The microscopes needed to see things at the nanoscale were invented in the early 1980s.

Once scientists had the right tools, such as the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM), the age of nanotechnology was born.

Although modern nanoscience and nanotechnology are quite new, nanoscale materials were used for centuries. Alternate-sized gold and silver particles created colors in the stained glass windows of medieval churches hundreds of years ago. The artists back then just didn’t know that the process they used to create these beautiful works of art actually led to changes in the composition of the materials they were working with.

Today's scientists and engineers are finding a wide variety of ways to deliberately make materials at the nanoscale to take advantage of their enhanced properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity than their larger-scale counterparts.



This wonderful technology has found so many applications in the universe today breaking grounds that have been left fallow for many decades and here are few out of its many applications.

  1. Nano-Systems: Arguably the most exciting part about nanoscience is the potential that it holds for the future. Nano-systems are the next step of achieving this sci-fi future that we have all dreamt of. Nano-systems basically involve the self-assembly of nano-factories or machines that can make a product on the atomic scale, that work together with other nanoparticles and machines to create complex molecular structures for specific tasks and functions.For instance, we can develop nano-systems that can produce synthetic materials without any external input. This process not only consumes fewer fossil fuels but also uses carbon dioxide from the air, which has obvious benefits for the environment and climate. Other potential applications include self-healing structures, disaster-resistant buildings, protective gear, etc.
  1. Big data application: In this age of information technology, there is a huge increase in electronic data, which has produced the urgent need to effectively manage this data, spot the patterns and alert us to the problems without missing critical information. For instance, big data from traffic sensors to help manage congestions and avoid accidents, prevent crimes by using statistics to more effectively allocate police resources, to name a few.Nanotechnology plays an important role here by allowing the creation of ultra-dense memory that can store huge amounts of this data. At the same time, it’s giving them the motivation to create super-effective algorithms for handling, scrambling and conveying information without compromising its dependability.PC architectures inspired by the human mind could likewise utilize energy all the more effectively, all while battling less with excess heat – one of the key issues with contracting electronic devices further. 
  1. Tiny Doctors inside the body: The use of nanotechnology in medicine has seen huge developments in recent times. Billions of dollars are being spent to research the use of nanomaterials for the detection and treatment of disease. For example, we have made considerable research in detecting diseases by creating nanomaterials filled with a fluorescent dye that can latch on the responsible molecules in the blood.Relevant research is also being done to use nanoparticles in chemotherapy so as to have a targeted attack on the tumour, and lessening the side effects of chemo on the rest of the body.On the other hand, research is being done to develop miniscule sensors that can be safely injected into our body, and which can monitor our vitals more closely than ever, thus enabling doctors to personalize the treatment. There are endless possibilities of nanomedicine, ranging from monitoring inflammation and post-surgical recovery to more unusual use cases where electronic devices actually interfere with our body’s signals for controlling organ function.
  2. Electronic sensors: With the current advancements in nanotech, sensors with very minute features can be printed on flexible rolls of plastic. They can be manufactured in large quantities at a very low cost. These sensors can be used to continuously monitor the health of critical infrastructure such as bridges, aircraft, nuclear reactors, etc.
  3. War against climate change: One of the key ways to fight against climate change is by devising newer and more effective methods to produce electricity. Thanks to advances in nanoscience, we are already seeing batteries that can store more energy for electric cars and solar panels that can convert sunlight to electricity more efficiently. Both these applications use nanotexturing to turn a flat surface into a 3D one with a much greater surface area. This allows for more space for reactions to take place, thus enabling higher energy storage or generation.The future can show us nanoparticles that can harvest energy from their environment with high conversion efficiency. For example, energy can be harvested from movement, light, variations in temperature, glucose and several other sources.
  4. Military applications: The nanotech has helped the military operations of many countries in many areas which include: Production of lightweight, strong and multi-functional materials for use in military clothing, offering better protection as well as enhanced connectivity. Current research in nanotech has also allowed the development of durable nonwoven fabrics that can impart water absorbance or repellence, fire and thermal resistance, antimicrobial treatment, to name a few.Enhancement of military intelligence using smart sensor technologies in which nano-sensors are integrated with neural networks. Nano-sensors can be used to detect harmful chemicals and biological weapons, damages in military equipment, nature and the magnitude of the potential risk when explosives are detected.Use of energetic nano-particles in propulsion applications due to their unique combustion properties such as rapid ignition and short combustion times. For instance, they can be included in solid fuels, solid propellants, energetic gallants in liquid systems, etc.Nanocomposites are another category whether there is tremendous ongoing research and a wide range of potential use cases. Current developments in nanocomposites are focused on use in military food packaging, ballistic protection and body armour, solid lubricants, shock-absorbing materials, electrostatic charge dissipation, electromagnetic shielding, fire retardation and corrosion protection.Developments of nanosized drones that could be used in surveillance, remote detonations, communication, to name a few. These drones can have long battery lives with nano-sensors that allow facial and object detection.Uses of nanotechnology for markedly smaller satellites together with smaller launch vehicles, thus, making these satellites cost-effective. Moreover, these nano-satellites could be used in swarms for radar, communication and intelligence.


While nanotechnology has no doubt a bright future ahead, it is not without its dangers and cautions. According to a recent study conducted by the government of UK, as far as the general public is concerned, there are two key concerns. The first is the possible toxicity of nanomaterials because as we have learnt when we shrink matter to such small sizes, the matter that is harmless in macro-scales can become fatal at nanoscales. We know that most nanomaterials are not toxic, but we must still take necessary precautions during future developments,

Another fear of nanotechnology concerns the proper relationship between man and nature. While the consequences of this fear are not manifested with the present advancements, it would not be unrealistic after a few decades. By replacing living parts of the body with man-made artefacts, we can engineer an entirely synthetic form of life that is better adapted to the Earth’s environment than life itself is. But we still do not have a complete understanding of how life works and the immense complexities that are involved. So, we must be careful while treading these murky waters.

As already discussed, a large proportion of nanotechnology is focused on military applications, which may have negative implications on societal and political relations within the community. It is likely that nanotechnology will further widen the gap between the means of political violence available to the military and those available to the civilian population and indirectly contribute to terrorism.

There may be issues arising in terms of intellectual property assignment, due to the difficulties in establishing the uniqueness and obviousness in the process of nanotechnology patent applications. A nano-structured product can be considered to lack novelty because the relevant nanostructure material was present in an existing product, even though the nanostructure material was not recognized. These kinds of issues can have an adverse effect on the progress of this technology.

Another concern is that of employment. During the improvement of nanotechnology, industries are likely to have high demands for the scientists, engineers, and technicians who have to build and integrate the new ideas into processes and products. But at the same time, the demand for unskilled labour would drop drastically, causing an imbalance in the job market.

CONCLUSION: Nanotechnology of certainty is a technology to relish having quite world changing  applications. Though there are risks attached; that understandable because there is always the bad side of everything. If countries can manage the numerous sided effects of this awesome invention then there is no limit to say what bright tidings the future holds for nanoscience and consequently nanotech.

We would like to get your feedback regarding the above post and also be free to make a suggestion in the comment section below.








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