What is nanotechnology and nanosciene?
Nano is a prefix meaning one billionth and comes from the Greek word nanos meaning dwarf. A nanometer, nm, is a millionth of a millimeter, a thousandth of a micrometer, and a typical atom is roughly 0.1 nm in diameter. In nanotechnology and nanoscience we study and manipulate matter on the atomic level, so this may popularly be called atomic handicraft.
The term Nanotechnology
The term nanotechnology is often used of anything concerning structures that are 100 nm or smaller, some define it as the area of science and technology where dimensions and tolerances in the range of 0, 1 to 100 nm play a critical role. Important is to know that there is an on-going academic dispute about the exact definition of nanotechnology.
Areas of impact
Although nanotechnology today gets its strongest impetus from the rampant miniaturization of microelectronics, there are many other areas where nanotechnology may come to play a decisive role:
1.Electronics – as mentioned above. The possibility to manufacture smaller and smaller electronic circuits for faster data transfer. Also the possibility to manufacture electronic circuits made of non- traditional material.
2.Biotechnology –analysis and diagnostic tools and new types of pharmaceuticals
3.Material science – material with new properties as improved performance, prolonged lifetime and increased strength. Areas of application are for example within energy, manufacturing and medical techniques. Other areas with expected potential:
4.Pharmaceuticals and Health industry
5.Energy and Environment
7.Space industry and Aeronautics
|Nanotechnology can give us new types of drugs.
Nanotechnology is an area that is rapidly expanding, and around the world substantial investments are put into R&D. Among one of the last things Bill Clinton did as US president was to strongly increase of the grants to nanoscience through the NNI- The National Nanotechnology Initiative, today totalling 750 million dollars per year. Clinton's scientific advisor said, "If I were asked for an area of science and engineering that will most likely produce the breakthroughs of tomorrow, I would point to nanoscale science and engineering."
In the sixth framework program of the EU (FP6), 1.3 billion euros are assigned to nanotechnology, in addition to the 3.6 billion to information technology. The government of Taiwan has for a six-year period allocated $685 millions for research and the government of Japan has made substantial investments of about 74,6 billions yen.
Why this competition-like allocation of resources?
There are several explanations but the potential to commercialize research discoveries is a strong contributing factor. The American National Science Foundation estimates that year 2015 the total market for goods and services within nanotechnology will be worth around $1 000 millions!
Who will be affected?
Nanotechnology is inter-disciplinary and will have an impact on all branches of industry. Many examples of nanotechnology can already be found in the industry of today; in some cases we only recently realized that what has been done for years is actually nanotechnology. Most examples is concerning the use of nanoparticles: soot-based tire coloring, paint pigments and cement, UV-filters in sun tan lotion, and the oldest example of all, colored glass. Today, several tons of titanium dioxide nanoparticles are made each day. The manufacturing of magnetic nanoparticles for hard disks and tape media is already a major industry.
The most important application of nanotechnology is catalysis: 90 % of all chemical processes are based on heterogeneous catalysis, which translates to 15 % of the GNP of the industrialized world. In this industry there is a good understanding of nano-technology, and progress is rapid.
The electronics industry is well on the way to transform from micro- to nanoelectronics, but the traditional lithographic methods of fabrication cannot be scaled from micro to nano dimensions without problems. Many analysts believe that the cost of building a new semiconductor fabrication facility in ten years will be greater than the GNP of most countries. If the miniaturization of electronics is to proceed, new methods will be needed.
Expected areas of breakthroughs
* Completely new ways of making electronics, where the circuits are made from smaller units by means of so-called self-organization.
* Electronics will largely be based on quantum mechanical effects, whereby we will learn to control and manipulate single electrons and photons.
* Methods of quickly making chemical and biological analyses, where the type and concentration of different compounds are measured in parallel. This is already under way, and fully developed it would make hand held analysis labs possible, as well as speed up the development of new pharmaceuticals.
* DNA-like molecules can be used to store and process information. Conversely, DNA-tests can be made hundreds of times faster than today.
* Surfaces can be made with specific structures and properties on an atomic level. For example, it is the surface structure and not the material that allow prostheses to attach to human tissue.
* Air-purifying concrete, antibacterial paint and self-cleaning windows are close to reality.
* Others. Obviously, there are several more or less realistic visions of the nanotechnological future. For example, there have been speculations on molecular machines, including nanometer-scale submarine-like devices that will buzz around inside the body making measurements, or even perform mechanical or chemical work such as removing plaque or killing cancerous cells.
Source: ProNano and NanoNordic