Nano technology: The future of the world.
WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY?
This technological branch manipulates the molecular structure of materials to change their intrinsic properties and obtain others with revolutionary applications. This is the case of graphene — modified carbon harder than steel, lighter than aluminium and almost transparent — or nanoparticles used in areas such as electronics, energy, biomedicine or defence.
In 1959 the American Nobel prize and physicist Richard Feynman was the first to speak about the applications of nanotechnology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). With the 21st century, this area consolidated, was marketed and came into its own. It includes other areas such as micro-manufacturing, organic chemistry and molecular biology. In the United States alone, for example, more than 18 billion dollars were invested between 2001 and 2013 through the NNI (National Nanotechnology Initiative) to turn this sector into a driver of economic growth and competitiveness.
Application of nanotechnology
Researchers are developing customized nanoparticles the size of molecules that can deliver drugs directly to diseased cells in your body. When it’s perfected, this method should greatly reduce the damage treatment such as chemotherapy does to a patient’s healthy cells.
Nanotechnology holds some answers for how we might increase the capabilities of electronics devices while we reduce their weight and power consumption.
Nanotechnology is having an impact on several aspects of food science, from how food is grown to how it is packaged. Companies are developing nanomaterials that will make a difference not only in the taste of food, but also in food safety, and the health benefits that food delivers.
Nanotechnology is being used to reduce the cost of catalysts used in fuel cells to produce hydrogen ions from fuel such as methanol and to improve the efficiency of membranes used in fuel cells to separate hydrogen ions from other gases such as oxygen.
Companies have developed nanotech solar cells that can be manufactured at significantly lower cost than conventional solar cells.
Companies are currently developing batteries using nanomaterials. One such battery will be a good as new after sitting on the shelf for decades. Another battery can be recharged significantly faster than conventional batteries.
Nanotechnology may hold the key to making space-flight more practical. Advancements in nanomaterials make lightweight spacecraft and a cable for the space elevator possible. By significantly reducing the amount of rocket fuel required, these advances could lower the cost of reaching orbit and traveling in space.
Nanotechnology can address the shortage of fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline by making the production of fuels from low grade raw materials economical, increasing the mileage of engines, and making the production of fuels from normal raw materials more efficient.
Better air quality
Nanotechnology can improve the performance of catalysts used to transform vapors escaping from cars or industrial plants into harmless gasses. That’s because catalysts made from nanoparticles have a greater surface area to interact with the reacting chemicals than catalysts made from larger particles. The larger surface area allows more chemicals to interact with the catalyst simultaneously, which makes the catalyst more effective.
Better water quality
Nanotechnology is being used to develop solutions to three very different problems in water quality. One challenge is the removal of industrial wastes, such as a cleaning solvent called TCE, from groundwater. Nanoparticles can be used to convert the contaminating chemical through a chemical reaction to make it harmless. Studies have shown that this method can be used successfully to reach contaminates dispersed in underground ponds and at much lower cost than methods which require pumping the water out of the ground for treatment.
Nanotechnology can enable sensors to detect very small amounts of chemical vapors. Various types of detecting elements, such as carbon nanotubes, zinc oxide nanowires or palladium nanoparticles can be used in nanotechnology-based sensors. Because of the small size of nanotubes, nanowires, or nanoparticles, a few gas molecules are sufficient to change the electrical properties of the sensing elements. This allows the detection of a very low concentration of chemical vapors.
If you’re a tennis or golf fan, you’ll be glad to hear that even sporting goods has wandered into the nano realm. Current nanotechnology applications in the sports arena include increasing the strength of tennis racquets, filling any imperfections in club shaft materials and reducing the rate at which air leaks from tennis balls.
Making composite fabric with nano-sized particles or fibers allows improvement of fabric properties without a significant increase in weight, thickness, or stiffness as might have been the case with previously-used techniques.
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