When you come across some article or other things that mentions nanotechnology, you must have thought that it is something sophisticated and advanced. Actually, nanotechnology is a really simple science that has been around for quite a long time. We won’t spoil too much about it, though, because you’ll read more about it later on. We guarantee that you’d want to stick around and learn more about this fascinating science field.
Many people have heard the term, but they haven’t really understood the meaning of nanotechnology. To put it simply, nanotechnology is the manipulation of something on a very small (molecular) level for various purposes. If developed correctly, nanotechnology can be really beneficial for a lot of different things, like medical and even military uses. If you’re curious to learn more, let’s take a look at some of the cool facts about nanotechnology.
1. How Nanotechnology Started?
The study for matters in molecular sizes started in the late 50s. To be more precise, it came through a talk entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by Richard Feynman. Feynman was an American physicist who talked about the potential to manipulate matters on an atomic and molecular level.
The idea is there, but the application must wait. In fact, the study finally began in 1981 when a scanning tunneling microscope was able to finally look at individual atoms. Since then, nanotechnology and nanoscience hasn’t looked back.
2. Differ Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
The term has been strongly attached to the study, so much that it felt wrong to not call it nanotechnology. However, it’s still important to know that calling the study of matters at a molecular level shouldn’t be really classified as nanotechnology. The study should be called nanoscience, and the application of it for various different things is nanotechnology.
Getting confused already? Well, here’s a simple explanation. When you develop a microscopic robot that is able to be placed inside the body, that’s nanoscience. But when you have successfully used the robot for various purposes like scanning anomalies in the body, then that is in fact nanotechnology.
3. It’s Not as Complex as What We’ve Seen in Marvel Movies (yet)
Most of you would have probably seen the latest Avengers movie. On a small chance that you haven’t, Tony Stark used an advanced nanotechnology to form his strongest suit. It’s kept safely inside his watch (we’re not joking!). This is his last armor, and it is strong enough to hold Thanos during the final battle.
In the real world, nanotechnologies haven’t really reached the same potential yet. Currently, we can use it for some simple applications. But having strong particles that are able to move and form into a suit of armor requires us to have more understanding of the subject first. In short, it’s possible, but not in the foreseeable future.
4. Though Simple, It Doesn’t Mean That Nanotech Isn’t Useful
We’re still a million miles away from understanding the full potential of nanotechnology. However, it doesn’t mean that current perception is entirely useless. There are a lot of different fields that benefit from nanotechnology.
In health care, nanotechnology can be used to detect and treat cancer. Nanotech is also used for a lot of our latest electrical technologies. Even fabrics that are used for shirts have already implemented a little bit of nanotechnology. It’s safe to say that our lives are starting to entangle with the use of nanotechnology.
5. Simple Nanotechnologies are Here for a Very Long Time
Nanotechnology isn’t something new. Although we have just recently used it for certain applications, the fact remains that they have been around us for a very long time. Thousands of years before, nanotubes were found in blades of swords made in Damascus. Another example is the Lycurgus cup from Ancient Rome. It is made from a glass that is able to change color if it comes to contact with light. The glass is said to contain some nanoparticles.
6. Simple Applications of Nanotech
You don’t have to be an expert of nanotechnology to experiment on nanotechnologies. In fact, there are a lot of simple applications from nanotechnology that we came across each day. You might not notice it, but it’s always there around us.
The sunscreens that we use contain nanotech. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the two nanoparticles injected inside the product to repel UV radiation. We have also mentioned before that fabrics contain nanotechnology. The nanoparticles used will be useful to create waterproof coating. Even sports equipment like tennis balls already use nanoparticles inside.
7. To a Larger Extent, these are the Benefits of Developing Nanotechnology
The potential from using nanotechnologies is limitless. If we’re able to use nanoparticles for many things now, imagine what they can do if we’re able to fully understand and control nanotechnology. That’s the reason why the study is just getting more popular than ever.
There’s a lot of things that can benefit from advanced nanotech, such as:
- Vehicles that use nanoparticles will be lighter and stronger.
- Nanoparticles can be used for medicine advancement. It can improve the absorption of the medicine in the body and allows it to deliver the medication needed to the right parts.
- Water bottles use nanoparticles to enhance their durability as well as reducing the possibility of permeation by oxygen, carbon dioxide, and moisture.
There’s a lot more that nanotechnology can provide for us in the future. It’s really exciting to see what the future holds for us! We certainly can’t wait, and neither should you.
8. Nanotechnology is Eco-friendly and Not Sustainable at the Same Time
Most of the interest generated towards nanotechnology is the promise of having sustainable technology that helps our environment. That promise isn’t entirely wrong. In fact, the use of nanoparticles will reduce the use of other raw materials, energy, and water. Items that use nanoparticles are usually more sustainable too. As an example, fabrics that are stain proof will require less water and energy.
However, there’s always two sides on a coin. While all the things that we’ve mentioned before are true, you also need to remember about the process of implementing nanoparticles to the items that we used. For example, using nanoparticles for electronical devices will also cause a lot of industrial waste.
9. Is the Risk Greater than the Benefit?
We have talked a lot about the potential of nanoparticles and the benefits that they present to society. But like anything else in the world, nanotechnology also have risks that can potentially be hazardous.
An extreme use of nanoparticles can damage the lungs, skin, or other internal organs. Some nanoparticles also have caused brain damage to some fishes and dogs. That’s the reason why governments all around the world should have a strict policy that controls the usage of nanoparticles and nanotechnologies.
10. Different Regulations in Various Countries
Governments need to seriously watch over the rules for nanotechnologies application. However, different countries have their own regulations. In the United States, the FDA is responsible for overseeing the rules for consuming nanoparticles.
Overall, the FDA supports the use of nanotechnology. However, they also made a guideline for each specific product that uses nanomaterials. In Europe, the guidelines for nanotechnologies are made by the European Commission Joint Research Centre.
11. Bulletproof Vest
Military vests need to be lightweight and durable. That’s the reason why nanoparticles are the perfect choice for the job. These vests use carbon nanotubes that are extremely strong. In fact, there are millions of nanotubes stored inside a bulletproof vest. They will be able to merge together as soon as they’re put in a high pressure. Bullets won’t even be able to penetrate these kinds of vest!
12. Nanobots Aren’t Real Yet, But Not for a Long Time
We talked about a lot of awesome nanoparticles before. However, we haven’t got the chance to be discussing nanobots. A lot of the nanoparticles that have been used in various items are passive matters that can’t move on their own. Just take a look at nanoparticles in the bulletproof vest or shirts that we used. They’re useful but they aren’t that advanced yet. Even nanoparticles in the medicines that we consume can’t really move on its own like nanobots.
In several movies and science-fiction novels, nanobots are really useful to detect and heal damages inside the body. They can be controlled by people outside, or even move automatically on its own. The theory of nanobots isn’t real yet. But experts have predicted that they will be available as soon as 2030. Even Google Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil, who has successfully predicted certain scientific claims, also agrees with the theory.
Some test runs have successfully injected DNA robots inside animals to search for cancer cells. It acts like white blood cells, as they patrol the bloodstream and look for any signs of distress. It’s interesting to know if the test can be used for humans in the next few years.
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