Question – After nearly 25 years of intensive and focused research and development, today the applications of nanotechnology are fulfilling the promise of nanotechnology to benefit society in both expected and unexpected ways. Describe. – 11 September 2021
Answer – Nanotechnology is the method of transforming any substance in a controlled manner at the atomic scale (nano scale) and transforming it into a new form at will. Nanotechnology was first introduced on December 29, 1959, at the meeting of the American Physical Association at Caltech, by scientist Richard Feynman in his theory “There’s Plenty of the Room at the Bottom”, that is, the concept of nanotechnology was given by Richard Feynman.
Nanotechnology is helping greatly to improve many technology and industry sectors: information technology, security, medicine, transportation, energy, food safety and environmental science, among many others. The list of benefits and applications of nanotechnology described below is just a sample of it.
Electronics and IT Applications:
Nanotechnology has contributed greatly to major advances in computing and electronics, leading to faster, smaller and more portable systems that can manage and store large amounts of information. These ever-evolving applications include:
- Transistors, that is, the basic switches that enable all modern computing, have become smaller and smaller through nanotechnology. At the end of the last century, a typical transistor was 130 to 250 nanometers in size. In 2014, Intel made the 14-nanometer transistor, then IBM made the first seven-nanometer transistor in 2015, and then Lawrence Berkeley National Lab introduced a one-nanometer transistor in 2016. Smaller, faster and better transistors could mean that soon all of your computer’s memory could be stored on a single tiny chip.
- Nano-particle copper suspensions have been developed as a safer, cheaper and more reliable alternative to lead-based solder and other hazardous materials commonly used to fuse electronics in the assembly process.
- Using Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM), computers will be able to “boot” almost instantly. MRAM is enabled by nanometer-scale magnetic tunnel junctions, and can quickly and effectively save data during system shutdown, or enable resume-play features.
- Ultra-high definition displays and televisions use quantum dots to produce more vibrant colors while being more energy efficient.
Medical and healthcare applications
Nanotechnology is expanding the medical devices, knowledge and treatments already available to physicians. Nanomedicine, the application of nanotechnology in medicine, is based on the natural scale of biological phenomena to produce precise solutions for disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Below are some examples of recent progress in this area:
- Commercial applications have adapted gold nano particles as probes for detecting targeted sequences of nucleic acids, and gold nano particles are also being clinically investigated as a potential treatment for cancer and other diseases.
- Nanotechnology is being studied for both the diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the arteries. In one technique, researchers created a nanoparticle that mimics the body’s “good” cholesterol, known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein), which helps shrink plaque.
- Improved imaging and diagnostic tools enabled by nanotechnology are paving the way for earlier diagnosis, more personalized treatment options and better therapeutic success rates.
- Nanotechnology is improving the efficiency of fuel production through improved catalysis from crude petroleum materials. It is able to reduce fuel consumption in vehicles and power plants through high-efficiency combustion and low friction.
- Researchers are researching carbon nano-tube “scrubbers” and membranes to separate carbon dioxide from power plant exhaust.
- Researchers are developing wires containing carbon nanotubes, which will have a much lower resistance than the high-voltage wires currently used in electrical grids, thus reducing transmission energy loss.
- An epoxy containing carbon nanotubes is being used to make windmill blades that are longer, stronger and lighter-weight than other blades to increase the amount of electricity the windmill can generate.
In addition to the ways nanotechnology can help improve energy efficiency, there are a number of ways in which it can help detect and clean up environmental contaminants:
- Nanotechnology can help meet the need for affordable, clean drinking water through rapid, low-cost treatment of impurities in water.
- Engineers have developed a thin film membrane with nanopores for energy-efficient desalination. This molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) membrane filters two to five times more water than current conventional filters.
- Nanoparticles are being developed to clean industrial water pollutants in groundwater through chemical reactions that render the pollutants harmless. This process will cost less than methods that require water to be taken out of the ground for treatment.