Nanotechnology: Research & Applications
Nanotechnology is not just a technology but a whole world within itself. Be it any field, nanotechnology has something to offer, for everything!!
Bio Medical & Health applications:
Nanotechnology is not less than a boon for Biomedical and health sector. It promises treatment to cancer, HIV like deadly diseases. Let’s see how nanotechnology can revolutionise this sector.
· Effective Drug delivery: Nanotechnology has developed all-new methods of drug delivery that are far more efficient, safer and easier to administer.
Most of the drugs developed are water insoluble and thus difficult to deliver at desired location. However, nanotech drugs consisting of nano sized particles can be easily delivered at precise locations, proper amount of dose and without affecting the nearby cells. For this drug delivery mechanism nano-sized drug carriers are needed. One approach is to use ‘Organic Dendrimers’. These are special type of polymeric molecules. They can be administered to deliver the drug to only some particular type of cell and at a triggered time. This approach is of great help in case of treatment of cancerous tumours.
The idea of “nano-robots” that can even be inhaled to fight harmful viruses and bacteria is based on the general approach of nanoparticle directed drug delivery.
· Gold coated nanoparticles can carry antibodies on their surface so as to bind to specific tumour cells and reduce damage to other cells. They can also help in early stage detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
· Molecular imaging for the early detection where sensitive biosensors constructed of nanoscale components can recognize genetic and molecular events and have reporting capabilities, thereby offering the potential to detect rare molecular signals associated with malignancy.
Electronics & Information technology applications:
Nanotechnology is well established in electronics & IT field of application. It has been used for many computing and electronics application and developed faster, smarter and portable systems. Certain components of chip transistors are gradually being reduced to a size of less than 20 nanometres, thus reaching to the quantum realm. With Moore’s law reaching its limits due to quantum effects such as ‘tunnelling’, scientists have started research in a radical new approach for data storage and information processing and developing a completely new type of electronics, which could produce a Quantum computer that could open up a totally new mathematical universe.
Nanoscale transistors that are faster, more powerful, and increasingly energy-efficient; soon your computer’s entire memory may be stored on a single tiny chip. Magnetic random access memory (MRAM) enabled by nanometer scale magnetic tunnel junctions that can quickly and effectively save even encrypted data during a system shutdown or crash, enable resume play features, and gather vehicle accident data. Also, displays for many new TVs, laptop computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and other devices incorporate nanostructure polymer films known as organic light-emitting diodes, OLED screens offer brighter images in a flat format, as well as wider viewing angles, lighter weight, better picture density, lower power consumption, and longer lifetimes.
‘Fullerene’ (molecule consisting of carbon atoms only) when in the shape of sphere is known as ‘buck ball’, and when in form of cylindrical tube, is termed as Carbon nanotube. Bucky balls have recently been detected in space and thus offering hopeful prospects in the search for exotic material. Carbon nanotube is nano sized tube (cylinder) of carbon atoms. They have noteworthy electronic, mechanical and chemical properties. They can exhibit both metallic and semiconductor behaviour, depending on the arrangement of their bonding. Research is going on to use carbon nanotubes for transistors and other electronics applications. They are even much stronger but lighter than steel. Constructing materials for space crafts, airplanes and other vehicles by carbon nanotubes can bring a drastic change in performance with better fuel efficiency and increased strength.
To assess the worth of this material it is enough to know that NASA has proposed to use carbon nanotubes for the highly ambitious project, “Space Elevator”, i.e. a lift between earth and space!!!
Energy & Environment Applications:
With energy demands on an upward slope and at the same time the growing concern for a green environment, need of the hour is to have a clean, affordable and renewable source of energy and without exception nanotechnology has an answer for this problem too!!
Development of silicon nanocrystals have made it possible to engineer solar cells capable of absorbing more energy. Moreover, nanostructure solar cells are cheaper to manufacture and easier to install, since they can use print-like manufacturing processes and can be made in flexible rolls rather than discrete panels. Newer research suggests that future solar converters might even be paintable. Not only this, researchers are developing wires containing carbon nanotubes to have much lower resistance than the high-tension wires currently used in the electric grid and thus reduce transmission power loss. Various nanoscience-based options are being pursued to convert waste heat in computers, automobiles, homes, power plants, etc., to usable electrical power.
Nanotechnology is helping to make environment cleaner too. Nanocrystals, nanofilters, nano sensors are being widely used for applications such as cleaning drinking water, removing materials that may cause harm to environment from crude oil etc. Moreover, nanotechnology based vehicles and machines consuming less fuel are helping too.
Applications in everyday life:
Nanotechnology has entered into your kitchen to keep the food fresher and safer for a long time. Nano-engineered materials in the food industry include nanocomposites in food containers to minimize carbon dioxide leakage out of carbonated beverages, or reduce oxygen inflow, moisture outflow, or the growth of bacteria. Nanosensors built into plastic packaging can warn against spoiled food. Nanosensors are being developed to detect salmonella, pesticides, and other contaminates on food before packaging and distribution.
Nanomaterial based cosmetics are not only provides greater clarity, absorption but take care of the skin too. In future, make-up, tattoos will be replaced with nanotreatments that alter skin and eye colour for a day, a week or even a month!!
Other than these, Molecular nanotechnology, Quantum dots and wells, Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), Spintronics, Nanoengineering, Nanophotonics etc., the scope of nanotechnology seems endless.
Nanotechnology: An astounding Future!!!
The promising nanotechnology hides a novel future in the box. From the everyday products like clothes to the most sophisticated technical gadgets, everything will get high-tech with the bang of nanotechnology.
This picture is just a clip of the forthcoming big world of nanotechnology.
The ambitious vision of “Nano-bots”, i.e. Robots of a size of only a few millionths of a millimetre, program-controlled and capable of creating something new and bigger from the provided raw materials conceals extraordinary possibilities.
But along with unlimited immense potential, some risk is present as well. Some nanoparticles may prove harmful too, in certain conditions e.g. if inhaled. Research is going on to find out such odd possibilities and to find the remedies too.
Dealing with the study at atomic level in physics, biology, chemistry, electronics, engineering and many more, Nanotechnology is offering plenty of applications in these myriad fields. It is replacing ‘Quantity with Quality’. Truly it has the potential to bring revolution to every aspect of life.
The big leap of ‘nano’ is proving that Small is indeed beautiful!! Get ready to welcome an astonishing nano future.
Think future, Think small.
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