Your future is being secured by nanotechnology.


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Nanotechnology is the study of science, engineering, and technology on a scale of one to one hundred nanometers.

Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things, and they can be applied in any other science subject, including chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.

Nanotechnology history

Humans first employed nanoparticles and structures in the fourth century AD, when the Romans exhibited one of the most interesting examples of nanotechnology in the ancient world. The British Museum’s Lycurgus cup is one of the most remarkable achievements in the ancient glass industry. It is the first and most well-known example of dichroic glass. Dichroic glass refers to two forms of glass that change color depending on the lighting conditions. This means that the Cup has two distinct colors: in direct light, the glass appears green, and in indirect light, the glass appears red-purple.

The scientists examined the cup using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in 1990 to explain the phenomena of dichroism. The presence of nanoparticles with diameters ranging from 50 to 100 nm is responsible for the observed dichroism (two hues). X-ray examination revealed that these nanoparticles are silver-gold (Ag-Au) alloys with an Ag:Au ratio of around 7:3 and about 10% copper (Cu) distributed in a glass matrix.

Because of light absorption (520 nm), the Au nanoparticles produce a red color. The red-purple hue is caused by larger particles absorption, whereas the green color is caused by light scattering by colloidal dispersions of Ag nanoparticles larger than 40 nm. The Lycurgus cup is regarded as one of the first synthetic nanomaterials. A similar effect may be seen in late medieval church windows, which shine a dazzling red and yellow color due to the fusing of Au and Ag nanoparticles into the glass.

Glowing, sparkling “luster” ceramic glazes employed in the Islamic world, and later in Europe, contained Ag or copper (Cu) or other nanoparticles between the 9th and 17th centuries. During the 16th century, the Italians used nanoparticles in the creation of Renaissance ceramics. They were influenced by Ottoman techniques: to make “Damascus” saber blades in the 13th-18th centuries, cementite nanowires and carbon nanotubes were utilized to offer strength, resistance, and the ability to keep a fine edge. For hundreds of years, these hues and material qualities have been purposefully created. However, medieval artists and forgers were unaware of the source of these unexpected effects.

Michael Faraday investigated the formation and characteristics of colloidal suspensions of “Ruby” gold in 1857. They are some of the most intriguing nanoparticles due to their unique optical and electrical capabilities. Under particular illumination circumstances, Faraday demonstrated how gold nanoparticles form different colored solutions.

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Fundamentals

It’s difficult to comprehend how insignificant nanotechnology is. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or one billionth of a meter. Here are several examples:

An inch has 25,400,000 nanometers.

The thickness of a sheet of newspaper is around 100,000 nanometers.

If a marble was a nanometer, one meter would be the size of the Earth.

The ability to observe and control individual atoms and molecules is at the heart of nanoscience and nanotechnology. The food we consume, the clothes we wear, the structures and houses we live in, and our own bodies are all made up of atoms.

An atom, on the other hand, is impossible to see with the human eye. In fact, using the microscopes often used in high school science lectures makes it hard to see. In the early 1980s, the microscopes needed to see things at the nanoscale were invented.

The age of nanotechnology began when scientists obtained the necessary equipment, such as the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM).

Nanoscale materials have been utilized for centuries, despite the fact that current nanoscience and nanotechnology are relatively new. Colors in medieval church stained glass windows were made hundreds of years ago by alternating-sized gold and silver particles. The artists didn’t realize it at the time, but the procedure they employed to create these stunning works of art resulted in changes in the composition of the materials they were working with.

Today’s scientists and engineers are experimenting with a wide range of nanoscale materials to take advantage of their enhanced features such as stronger strength, lower weight, greater control over the light spectrum, and higher chemical reactivity than their larger-scale equivalents.


The many types of nanotechnology are categorised based on how they operate (top-down or bottom-up) and the medium in which they operate (dry or wet):

  • Descending (top-down)

At the nanometric scale — one to 100 nanometres in size — mechanisms and structures are miniaturized. It is the most common today, particularly in electronics.

  • Ascending (bottom-up)

You start with a nanometric structure, such as a molecule, and then mount or self-assemble it to produce a larger mechanism than the one you started with.

  • Dry Nanotechnology

It is utilized to create structures that do not work with humidity out of coal, silicon, inorganic materials, metals, and semiconductors.

  • Wet Nanotechnology

It is based on biological systems found in an aquatic environment, such as genetic material, membranes, enzymes, and other cellular components.

Nanotechnology Applications

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After more than 20 years of basic nanoscience research and more than fifteen years of dedicated R&D under the NNI, applications of nanotechnology are delivering on nanotechnology’s promise to improve society in both expected and unforeseen ways.

Many technology and industry sectors, including information technology, homeland security, medicine, transportation, energy, food safety, and environmental research, are being significantly improved, if not revolutionized, by nanotechnology. A sampling of the continually growing list of benefits and applications of nanotechnology is described below.

Materials and Procedures Used Everyday

Many of the advantages of nanotechnology are based on the ability to change the structures of materials at extremely small scales to obtain specific features, considerably expanding the materials science toolkit. Materials can be made stronger, lighter, more durable, reactive, sieve-like, or better electrical conductors using nanotechnology, among other properties. Many everyday commercial items that rely on nanoscale materials and technologies are currently on the market and in use:

  • Clear nanoscale films on eyeglasses, computer and camera displays, windows, and other surfaces can make them water- and residue-repellent, antireflective, self-cleaning, resistant to UV or infrared radiation, anti-fog, antimicrobial, scratch-resistant, or electrically conductive.
  • Nanoscale materials are enabling washable, long-lasting “smart fabrics” packed with flexible nanoscale sensors and electronics capable of health monitoring, solar energy capture, and energy harvesting through movement.
  • Nanoscale fabric additives or surface treatments can give lightweight ballistic energy deflection in personal body armor, as well as aid them resist wrinkling, staining, and bacterial growth.
  • Cars, trucks, airplanes, boats, and spacecraft that are less in weight could save a lot of gas. Baseball bats, tennis rackets, bicycles, motorcycle helmets, vehicle parts, luggage, and power tool housings all utilise nanoscale additions in polymer composite materials to make them lightweight, rigid, robust, and resilient. Carbon nanotube sheets are now being manufactured for usage in next-generation aircraft. Their light weight and conductivity, for example, make them perfect for applications such as electromagnetic shielding and thermal control.
  • The goal of nano-bioengineering enzymes is to convert cellulose from wood chips, corn stalks, unfertilized perennial grasses, and other biomass into ethanol for fuel. Cellulosic nanoparticles have shown promise in a variety of industrial areas, including electronics, building, packaging, food, energy, health care, automotive, and military. Cellulosic nanoparticles are expected to be less expensive than many other nanomaterials and to have a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio, among other advantages.
  • Nanostructured ceramic coatings are substantially tougher than traditional wear-resistant coatings for machine parts. Nanotechnology-enabled lubricants and engine oils also dramatically minimize wear and tear, which can significantly increase the lifespan of moving parts in everything from power tools to industrial machinery.
  • High-power rechargeable battery systems, thermoelectric materials for temperature control, tires with lower rolling resistance, high-efficiency/low-cost sensors and electronics, thin-film smart solar panels, and fuel additives for cleaner exhaust and extended range are all examples of nano-engineered materials in automotive products.
  • Nanoparticles are increasingly being employed in catalysis to increase the rate of chemical processes. This minimizes the amount of catalytic materials required to achieve the desired effects, hence saving money and decreasing pollution. There are two major applications: petroleum refining and automotive catalytic converters.
  • Nanoscale materials are also being used to improve the performance of a wide range of personal care items. Nanoscale titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have been utilized in sunscreen for many years to give UV protection while being undetectable on the skin.
  • Superior household products, such as degreasers and stain removers; environmental sensors, air purifiers, and filters; antibacterial cleansers; and specialty paints and sealing products, such as self-cleaning house paints that resist dirt and stains, are made from nano-engineered materials.

Electronics and Information Technology Applications

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Nanotechnology has made significant contributions to important developments in computers and electronics, resulting in quicker, smaller, and more portable systems capable of managing and storing increasing amounts of data. These ever-changing applications include:

  • Through nanotechnology, transistors, the basic switches that enable all modern computers, have become increasingly minuscule. A typical transistor around the beginning of the century was 130 to 250 nanometers in size. Intel developed the first 14 nanometer transistor in 2014, IBM developed the first seven nanometer transistor in 2015, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory presented a one nanometer transistor in 2016! Smaller, quicker, and better transistors may imply that your computer’s whole memory may be stored on a single little chip in the not-too-distant future.
  • Computers will be able to “boot” almost immediately thanks to magnetic random access memory (MRAM). MRAM is made possible by nanometerscale magnetic tunnel junctions and may save data rapidly and effectively after a system shutdown or allow resumeplay features.
  • Quantum dots are being used in ultra-high definition displays and televisions to provide more brilliant colors while being more energy efficient.
  • Flexible, bendable, foldable, rollable, and stretchable electronics are finding their way into a number of goods, including wearables, medical applications, aerospace applications, and the Internet of Things. Flexible electronics, such as semiconductor nanomembranes for smartphone and e-reader displays, have been developed. Other nanoparticles, such as graphene and cellulosic nanomaterials, are being employed in various sorts of flexible electronics, such as wearable and “tattoo” sensors, photovoltaics that can be sewed onto garments, and electronic paper that can be rolled up. Making flat, flexible, lightweight, non-brittle, and extremely efficient electronics opens the door to a plethora of smart gadgets.
  • Nanoparticle 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.
  • Flash memory chips for smart phones and thumb drives; ultra-responsive hearing aids; antimicrobial/antibacterial coatings on keyboards and cell phone casings; conductive inks for printed electronics for RFID/smart cards/smart packaging; and flexible displays for e-book readers are among the other computing and electronic products.

Applications for Medicine and Healthcare

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Nanotechnology is already increasing the medical tools, information, and medicines that clinicians have at their disposal. Nanomedicine, or the use of nanotechnology in medicine, takes advantage of the inherent scale of biological processes to provide precise solutions for disease prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. Here are some examples of recent developments in this field:

  • Nanotechnology-enabled improvements in imaging and diagnostic tools are paving the path for earlier diagnosis, more personalized treatment options, and higher therapeutic success rates.
  • The use of nanotechnology in the detection and treatment of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in arteries, is being investigated. Researchers developed a nanoparticle that resembles the body’s “good” cholesterol, known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein), and aids in plaque reduction.
  • Commercial uses have used gold nanoparticles as probes for the detection of targeted nucleic acid sequences, and gold nanoparticles are also being studied clinically as potential cancer and other illness treatments.
  • The development of revolutionary gene sequencing technologies that enable single-molecule detection at cheap cost and high speed with little sample preparation and instrumentation could be enabled by the design and manufacturing of enhanced solid-state nanopore materials.
  • Researchers in nanotechnology are working on a variety of therapies in which a nanoparticle can encapsulate or otherwise assist in the delivery of medication directly to cancer cells while minimizing the potential of injury to healthy tissue. This has the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment and drastically minimize the damaging effects of chemotherapy.
  • Nanotechnology research for regenerative medicine covers a wide range of applications, including bone and neural tissue engineering. Novel materials, for example, can be created to resemble the crystal mineral structure of human bone or employed as a tooth restorative resin. Researchers are seeking for techniques to develop complex tissues in the hopes of one day generating human organs for transplantation. Researchers are also investigating the use of graphene nanoribbons to aid in the repair of spinal cord injury; preliminary findings reveal that neurons grow effectively on the conductive graphene surface.
  • Researchers in nanomedicine are investigating how nanotechnology can improve vaccines, including needle-free vaccine delivery. Researchers are also aiming to construct a universal vaccine scaffold for the annual flu vaccine, which would cover more strains and need fewer resources to develop each year.

Remediation of the Environment

In addition to the ways that nanotechnology can help enhance energy efficiency (see above), it can also help detect and clean up environmental contaminants:

  • Through quick, low-cost detection and treatment of contaminants in water, nanotechnology could assist address the demand for affordable, clean drinking water.
  • Engineers have created an energy-efficient desalination thin film membrane incorporating nanopores. This molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) membrane filtered two to five times more water than standard filters.
  • Nanoparticles are being created to remediate industrial water contaminants in ground water by chemical reactions that render the pollutants harmless. This procedure would be less expensive than methods that require pumping the water out of the ground for treatment.
  • Researchers have created a nano-fabric “paper towel” woven from tiny wires of potassium manganese oxide that can absorb 20 times its weight in oil for cleanup purposes. Researchers have also utilized magnetic water-repellent nanoparticles in oil spills and magnets to mechanically extract the oil from the water.
  • Many airline cabin and other types of air filters use nanotechnology to enable “mechanical filtration,” in which the fiber material forms nanoscale pores that catch particles larger than the pores’ size. The filters may additionally have charcoal layers that eliminate odors.

Benefits of Future Transportation

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Nanotechnology holds the promise of enabling the creation of multifunctional materials that will aid in the construction and maintenance of lighter, safer, smarter, and more efficient vehicles, airplanes, spacecraft, and ships. Furthermore, nanotechnology provides a variety of options for improving transportation infrastructure:

  • As previously stated, nano-engineered materials in automotive products include structural polymer nanocomposites, high-power rechargeable battery systems, thermoelectric materials for temperature control, lower rolling-resistance tires, high-efficiency/low-cost sensors and electronics, thin-film smart solar panels, and fuel additives and improved catalytic converters for cleaner exhaust and longer range. Nano-engineering of aluminum, steel, asphalt, concrete, and other cementitious materials, as well as their recycled forms, has significant potential for enhancing the performance, resiliency, and lifespan of roadway and transportation infrastructure components while lowering life cycle costs. Innovative characteristics, such as self-repairing buildings or the ability to generate or transport energy, may be included into classic infrastructure materials in new systems.
  • Continuous monitoring of the structural integrity and performance of bridges, tunnels, trains, parking structures, and pavements throughout time using nanoscale sensors and devices could be cost-effective. Nanoscale sensors, communications devices, and other nanoelectronics-enabled advancements can also help drivers maintain lane position, avoid collisions, change travel routes to avoid congestion, and improve drivers’ interfaces to onboard electronics.

Applications for Energy

Nanotechnology is finding applications in traditional energy sources and significantly improving alternative energy ways to assist in meeting the world’s expanding energy demands. Many scientists are researching ways to generate clean, economical, and renewable energy sources, as well as techniques to cut energy consumption and reduce environmental toxicity:

  • Through improved catalysis, nanotechnology is increasing the efficiency of fuel synthesis from raw petroleum materials. It also allows for lower fuel use in vehicles and power plants due to higher-efficiency combustion and less friction.
  • Nanotechnology is also being used in oil and gas production, such as the use of nanotechnology-enabled gas lift valves in offshore operations or the detection of minute down-well oil pipeline fractures with nanoparticles.
  • Carbon nanotube “scrubbers” and membranes are being investigated by researchers to extract carbon dioxide from power plant exhaust.

Nanotechnology’s Future

Nanotechnology is one of the most promising technologies of our time. Many scientists have praised and used the capacity to transform nanoscience theory to meaningful applications by seeing, measuring, assembling, regulating, and creating matter at the nanoscale scale.

Traditional chemotherapy medications for cancer treatment have shown remarkable advancements. Nanomaterials and nanotechnology miniaturization enable smaller and more efficient sensor devices to be implanted inside the patient’s body to monitor health, allowing clinicians to customise their therapy.

The use of nanomaterials has also aided in the development of batteries that can store more energy for electric vehicles and solar panels.

Nanotechnology additions may be able to display self-sense properties in the future, allowing materials to self-heal when injured, which could be useful in the aviation industry.