Introduction to Nanotechnology
Nanoparticles are extremely small particles i.e. they are nearly one billion times smaller than a meter. To have an idea of how small it is, it’s important to know that it takes eight hundred 100 nanoparticles side by side to match the width of human hair. Now, we can imagine a dimension of nanoparticles. So, here we define nanotechnology as an emerging field of research and innovation of devices and materials in atomic and molecular dimensions.
History of Nanotechnology
Although nanotechnology is being a new field for research, the scientist has been studying and working with nanoparticles for centuries without being acknowledged about nanoparticles. In recent decades, the development of microscopes capable of displaying particles as small as atoms have allowed scientists to see what they are working with. However, the term nanotechnology was first used by Japanese Scientist Norio Taniguchi of Tokyo University of Science in a 1974 conference to describe semiconductor processing. The invention of the scanning tunneling microscope in 1981 and the discovery of fullerene in 1985 marks the emergence of nanotechnology in the 1980s. However, the term was not in use till 1981 when Eric Drexler, who was unaware of Taniguchi’s prior use of the term, published his first paper on nanotechnology in 1981.
Types of Nanoparticles
Based on the size, morphology, physical and chemical properties, nanomaterials are classified into different types. Some of them are carbon-based nanoparticles, metal nanoparticles, ceramic nanoparticles, semiconductor nanoparticles, and lipid-based nanoparticles.
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Technological aspects of Nanotechnology
The materials and systems are found exhibiting significantly improved physical, chemical, and biological properties due to their nanoscale size. So at a very small scale, the characteristics of individual molecules and atoms in the material become more important than the materials bulk properties. Researchers and scientists are understanding nanotechnology in three different ways i.e Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
In physics, the field of microelectronics is embracing smaller feature sizes and is already at submicron line widths. As the miniaturization continues processor in computing system demands nanometer line width. In chemistry, dominant research on complex systems has led to a new catalyst, membrane, sensor, and coating technologies that primarily depends on the structures at atomic and molecular levels. · In biology, living systems have sub-units with sizes ranging from micron to nanometer scales, and working with these sub-units sizes and non-living nanostructured materials together, there is a possibility of inventing new devices.
Nanotechnology is flexible which incorporates creation of useful nanostructures with built properties, amalgamation, and handling of nanoparticles, supramolecular science, self-assembly and replication procedures, sintering of nanostructured metallic combinations, use of quantum effects, creation of chemical and biological templates and sensors, surface modifications and films.
Applications of Nanotechnology
Carbon nanotubes are being used as a material for making smaller, faster, and more efficient microchips and devices including stronger quantum nanowires that are more conductive and lighter. Graphene’s properties make it an ideal candidate for the development of flexible touchscreens
Nanotechnology improves fuel efficiency by producing stronger and lighter wind turbines and thermal insulation of some nanocomponents can even save energy. Recent research by Kyoto University is claiming a new semiconductor that makes it possible to manufacture solar panels that double the amount of sunlight converted into electricity. This can turn in to the big nano boos. For more details, you can go through the link given below:
The properties of some nanomaterials can improve early diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative disease or cancer. Without harming other healthy cells, they are able to attack cancer cells selectively. In addition to these, some nanoparticles have also been used to enhance pharmaceutical products like sunscreen.
Nanofiltration systems for heavy metals, wastewater purification with nanobubbles, and air purification with ions are also some applications of nanotechnology contributing to environmental sustainability. In chemical reactions, nanocatalyst is used for making reactions more faster and efficient and less polluting.
Nanobiosensors are used to detect the presence of pathogens in food. Similarly, nanocomposites improve food production by increasing mechanical and thermal resistance and decreasing oxygen transfer in packaged products.
With the use of nanotechnology, we can develop smart fabrics that don’t stain nor wrinkle. Similarly, we can make stronger, lighter, and more durable materials that have plenty of use in making motorbike helmets and sports equipment.
Future of nanotechnology
Nanotechnology owns a future where objects can generate energy through their environments such as producing energy from movement, light, variations in temperature, glucose, and other sources with high conversion efficiency. Now the world is practicing miniaturization of portable electronics and this is being constantly challenged by dependency on conventional battery technology. This will soon be replaced by nanoscale power sources in the coming future. It is predicted that nanoscale devices will be dominant in health monitoring, infrastructures and environmental monitoring, the internet of things, and defense technologies. In these application areas, battery design needs to be replaced by today’s typical lithium-ion batteries.
Challenges of Nanotechnology
The most expected challenge of nanotechnology is unknown dangers including misuse and harmful effects on health and the environment. The ability to alter substance at the molecular level is the most powerful skill and at the same time, if we can’t master that skill for prosperity, this would end up our world where a terrorist can make small undetectable biological or atomic weapons. The possibility of altering the genetic make-up of humans by engineering specific traits is also a matter of ethical concern. Particles on the nanoscale are so small and have high potential to cross the blood-brain barrier, which could cause mass poisoning or unwanted neurological effects.
In conclusion, nanotechnology has many present and future applications including innovations in electronics, manufacturing, renewable energy, and medicine. There is more to explore and scientists are just beginning to understand the true potential of nanoparticles as well as the potential hazards.