Nanotechnology It's Importance & Applications


By

C. Ganesh
MCA, B.Ed, M.Phil.
Sr. Faculty
ICFAI National College
8E, Vengamedu, Velur-638182
 


NANOTECHNOLOGY

Nano means small (10^-9 m) but of high potency, and emerging with large applications piercing through all the discipline of knowledge, leading to industrial and technological growth. In other words nano-sized structure needs to be magnified over 10 million times before we can easily appreciate its fine detail with the naked eye. Nanotechnology is already having its impact on products as diverse as novel foods, medical devices, chemical coatings, personal health testing kits, sensors for security systems, water purification units for manned space craft, displays for hand-held computer games, and high-resolution cinema screens. Nanotechnology is expected to have an impact on nearly every industry. The U.S. National Science Foundation has predicted that the global market for nanotechnologies will reach $1 trillion or more within 20 years.

Keywords: Nano, Nacked eye, Nano materials,Nanostructures.

1.0 WHAT IS NANO TECHNOLOGY?

Nanotechnology is a catch-all phrase for materials and devices that operate at the nanoscale. In the metric system of measurement, "Nano" equals a billionth and therefore a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. References to nano materials, nanoelectronics, nano devices and nanopowders simply mean the material or activity can be measured in nanometers. To appreciate the size, a human red blood cell is over 2,000 nanometers long, virtually outside the nanoscale range!

Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary science that has its roots in fields such as colloidal science,device physics and supramolecular chemistry.

NANOTECHNOLOGY is a fundamental, enabling technology, allowing us to do new things in almost every conceivable technological discipline. Nano means small (10^-9 m) but of high potency, and emerging with large applications piercing through all the discipline of knowledge, leading to industrial and technological growth.

As the prefix nano indicates extreme smallness. So small, in fact, that a nano-sized structure needs to be magnified over 10 million times before we can easily appreciate its fine detail with the naked eye.
Nanotechnology refers to technologies in which matter is manipulated on the atomic and molecular scale to create novel materials and processes. It is not just the study of the very small; it is the practical application of that knowledge. There are two main routes of entry to the nano-world:

Molecular manufacturing involves the manipulation of individual atoms (working from the bottom up); and ultra-miniaturization results in smaller and smaller devices (building from the top down).

1.1  Its Applications

Nanotechnology and its development is defined by key policy makers, as the development of nanotechnology as the latest mega trend in science and engineering which will bring a wave of radical innovation and perhaps, because of its potentially broad impact, spark new industrial revolution in various application areas1.Areas of applications include immediate impact - drug delivery to treat tumor, cancer (without using radiotherapy & chemotherapy), solar energy, batteries, display technologies, opto-electronic devices, semiconductor devices in nanoelectronics, biosensors, CNT's etc., nanocomposites such as Al2O3 oxides, catalysis, and luminous paints.

1.1.1 Detecting Disease Quicker

Although cystic fibrosis (CF), a debilitating lung disease, can be confirmed by genetic testing, current tests are both expensive and time-consuming. A European Commission project is developing improved and very high throughput test methods using a DNA chip format. These will become fully automated diagnostic systems able to detect defective CF genes quicker and more cheaply. They could also be adapted for the diagnosis of any genetic disease.

NAN WORLD

Three major sectors are listed as below:

  • Nanoelectronics
  • Nanobiotechnology
  • Nanomaterials.

NANOELECTRONICS

Continuing the development in microelectronics, especially for computers, but at significantly smaller size-scales. Future information processing devices may possibly require a paradigm shift in the way calculations are made. Under the motto 'how to make use of the intrinsic properties of molecules for doing calculations', which is opposed to current thinking of 'how to mimic transistors with molecules', the BUN project is synthesizing and studying designer molecules to be used as future mono-molecular devices.

Using electrodes placed close to one another on a computer chip, the new technique generates electrically charged atoms that ionize the air, leading to an imbalance of charges that creates bolts of nano-lightning.Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary science that has its roots in fields such as colloidal science,device physics and supramolecular chemistry.

NANOBIOTECHNOLOGY

Combining nanoscale engineering with biology to manipulate either living systems or to build biologically inspired materials at the molecular level.

MYTHS ABOUT NANOTECHNOLOGY

Consumers must fully understand nanotechnology to have opinions and attitudes towards it. Nanotechnology is a Science Project whose commercial products will emerge some years in the future. In fact there are currently more than 370 products on the market utilizing nanotechnology.  These range from car tires and sports equipment to electronics, clothing and cosmetics as mentioned earlier. 

Benefits includes

  • Sunscreens which use nanosized zinc oxide particles to absorb and reflect UV rays. This makes lotions transparent and smooth as opposed to sticky and white which will therefore make it more appealing to the consumer.
  • Self cleaning windows are coated with a material which has unique chemical properties. When the sun shines on these windows, a chemical reaction is triggered which breaks down dirt. Rain, instead of forming droplets, will spread evenly over the panel and wash away the broken down dirt. The thickness of this layer is controlled at the nanoscale.
  • Stain repellent fabrics are made by immersing rolls of woven cotton fabric in liquids containing trillions of nanotech fibres. The cotton is then dried in an oven, binding the tiny fibres to the cotton threads. The cotton appears to be unchanged but is, in fact, impermeable to liquid.
  • Bouncy tennis balls are coated in nanosized material. A molecular barrier is formed by the tiny particles that trap air molecules making the balls extra bouncy.

Future

The possibilities seem endless.In the area of nanoelectronics and computer technology, nanotechnology will allow the construction of smaller circuits and computers. Smaller circuits will run faster enabling far greater computer speeds. New nanomaterials will mean that computers will have a much longer life. A laptop computer could therefore have its efficiency increased by millions living longer and working faster to give far better value for money. 

For the environment and energy, nanotechnology will have a significant impact. For instance, nanometer sized solar cells could be developed to provide much of the energy needed around the world and nanomaterials will increase the efficiency of fuel cells and batteries. In the future nanotechnology will be used to tackle environmental problems. New 'green' processing technologies will minimise the generation of undesirable by-product effluents by curbing emissions.

In health care and medicine biological nanosensors are being developed in the next 5 years and will be used for fast and accurate diagnostics. Further ahead, nanotechnology may be used to build artificial muscle and 'lab on a chip' technology will develop more efficient drug discovery processes.

There are many other future applications of nanotechnology and more possibilities will come to light as it is developed further. Nanotechnology offers major opportunities for the UK economy and it is key that it is allowed to thrive, building upon the countries excellence in its science and technology base. Critics of nanotechnology insist that a strict regulatory system should be introduced to ensure risks are minimised and it is the government's responsibility to ensure that procedures are put in place to ensure that this happens.   

NANOMATERIALS

Precisely controlling the morphology at nanoscale dimensions of substances or particles to produce nanostructure materials.

Encompassing all these overlapping fields are the tools used to measure and manipulate ultra small structures, the nano-scale resolution microscopes.

These advances are providing the means for nanotechnology to progress and for researchers to expand their expertise into new application fields. Education and training in nanotechnology is supported by the Commission via a system of Research Training Networks. New hybrid technologies, combining nanotechnologies, materials sciences, engineering, information technologies, biotechnology and environmental science, are evolving. This evolution requires such multidisciplinary networks over a wide range of research areas, as well as strong collaboration across traditional scientific borders between

                                           Fig. 1: Future Information Processing

Nanotechnology researchers inside the European Union and worldwide.

2.0  CONCLUSION

The Department of Science & Technology is vested with the mandate to identify, facilitate and promote international cooperation in the emerging and frontier areas of science and technology under a bilateral, multilateral or regional framework, as applicable. This has been achieved through a systematic attempt in promoting interaction between governments, academia, institutions and industries, primarily in the fields of science and technology with specific focus on areas of common interest, with activities aimed towards generating mutual benefit. The Department of Science & Technology (DST) assessed the importance of this emerging, highly interdisciplinary field and launched a national programme titled 'Nan science & Technology Initiative (NSTI)' Nanotechnology is expected to have an impact on nearly every industry. The U.S. National Science Foundation has predicted that the global market for nanotechnologies will reach $1 trillion or more within 20 years. The research community is actively pursuing hundreds of applications in Nan materials, Nan electronics, and bionanotechnology. Nanotechnology has the potential to change every part of our lives. Nanotechnology affects all materials: ceramics, metals, polymers, and biomaterials. New materials are the foundation of major technological advances. In the coming decade nanotechnology will have an enormous impact. Future advances could change our approaches to manufacturing, electronics, IT and communications technology making previous technology redundant and leading to applications which could not have been developed or even thought about, without this new approach.Considering the importance of research and development of this new frontier area, the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, has been encouraging tremendous thrust on Nonmaterial. The Indo-US joint forum on Science and Technology has identified this area of research for intense cooperation. Government of India's Nanomaterials Science and Technology Initiative (NSTI).

This powerful combination of materials science and biotechnology will create entirely new processes and industries and put India among the world leaders thus leads to a  nanotechnological revolution. As the paper unveils the commercial application of nanotechnology, the consumer may appreciate the potential behind it.  The decision of the consumer whether to accept it or reject it remains vital to the future of Nan technological industry and in pace with the world economy. Hence a clear perceptive will give clarity to the consumers to make the right decision in terms of accepting what technology that nano offers.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to extend my wholehearted thanks to ICFAI NATIONAL College for providing resourceful materials to make this presentation a grand success. Everything else possible with the help of the almighty.

REFERENCE

[1] Prof.Sridhat vaithianathan, The ICFAI University Press , "Nanotechnology highly promising or Hype",
E-Business, (June2007), pp.28.

[2] Vella, Matt," High Style Goes High Tech" Business Week Online February 5,2007.
 


C. Ganesh
MCA, B.Ed, M.Phil.
Sr. Faculty
ICFAI National College
8E, Vengamedu, Velur-638182
 

Source: E-mail March 5, 2008

          

Articles No. 1-99 / Articles No. 100-199 / Articles No. 200-299 / Articles No. 300-399 /
Articles No. 400-499 / Articles No. 500-599 / Articles No. 600-699 / Back to Articles 700 Onward
Faculty Column Main Page