Nanotechnology Uses - Uses of Nanotechnology, The Up and Coming Science
What is Nanotechnology?
Whenever we think of nanotechnology, or nanotechnology uses, a lot of us automatically think of science fiction and imagine invasive mini robots travelling through our bodies, but this is in fact not the case and, regardless, nanotechnology is not nearly at the point of making such free thinking elaborate microelectronics.
Nanotechnology, known as the science of very small things, is an exciting and relatively new an area within science that deals with materials or devices up to 100 nanometers in size, which is equivalent to a thousand atoms across.
The term nanotechnology does not just include just one area, but is composed of many diverse, but related areas. Materials Science, Nanoelectronic, Nanomedecine and bio nanotechnology and three main sub groups of nanotechnology.
An example of a major area related and included into nanotechnology is Materials Science, which is an interdisciplinary field, but is included as, for example, polymers and materials developed and made within the material science field, can be, and are applied within nanotechnology fields. Also through this area many different types of nanoparticles are developed which can be used in nanotechnology. The nanotech field makes full use of polymers and novel materials when developing printed electronics, medical devices, bio sensors, modified polymer sensors, drug delivery systems, coatings, in waste treatment, etc… the list goes on.
Why make things Nano? Whats the point of making things so small? Well, materials, even ones we could generally overlook for certain purposes, have completely different properties at such a small scale and can have very unique uses.
Nano = 1 millionth of a millimetre and this is only visible with electron and atomic force microscopes.
Hair grows about a nanometre per second, if a seagull lands one of those massive American aircraft carriers, the aircraft will sink by one nanometer. (Clive Roberts from the University of Nottingham).
Cancer Treatment, better Drug Delivery
There is a possibility that nanotechnology could help to develop, or develop, a new, more effective and less damaging cancer treatment.
Through Nanotechnology, nano size hollow particles could be developed which would only recognize and bind with cancer cells. These hollow particles could contain anti cancer drugs which then could be transferred directly to the cancer cells, thereby destroying them. This direct method would be a drastic improvement in anti cancer treatments and science in general, as instead of the conventional anti cancer drug delivery systems that can attack and damage all body cells, only the cancer/tumour cells would be destroyed.
Medical Monitoring: Medical Nanodevices
Nanotechnology could pave the way to providing personal medical monitoring systems, that could for example, monitor your body’s blood sugar level, for diabetes patients, and/or monitor cholesterol levels in people.
This could be done by developing nanochips that could be implanted into your body and transmit data to your computer or another medical device, therefore telling you whether it’s time to take your insulin, for example.
Diabetes device being developed: At the University of Western Ontario, a new device, which is in fact a contact lens, has been developed which contains nanoparticles that change colour if there is a decrease in the patient’s glucose levels. This could stop the need for constant drawing of blood throughout the day and save a lot of pain and hassle.
Neurological Repair, Anti Alzheimer’s, Anti Memory Loss
There are a few different ways nanotechnology could be used in the detection and treatment of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, a disease that 5 million Americans have at present.
The only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s, absolutely, is to conduct an autopsy, but at this point the patient has already, sadly, passed away. While the patient is alive, there is no single test that is able to fully diagnose the patient with Alzheimer’s and with the collective tests completed the Alzheimer’s diagnosis is just of around 90 percent accuracy.
Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s using Nanotechnology: Early detection diagnostic tools could be developed that could monitor the Alzheimer’s biomarkers in the cerebro spinal fluid of the spine. Concentrations of such biomarkers in the spinal fluid can tell us if the person has a good change of having Alzheimer’s and even if they may develop Alzheimer’s down the line. The problem is that the procedure in extracting this fluid and the Alzheimer’s biomarkers is very invasive and can be dangerous, a new method here is needed.
With nanotechnology, extremely sensitive in vivo detection methods could be developed by using nanosize biosensors that could detect the Alzheimer’s biomarkers and allow for a quantification of the biomarkers. This method could potentially give a 100 percent diagnosis for Alzheimer’s if perfected.
Treatments of Alzheimer’s using Nanotechnology: One obvious method by which nanotechnology could develop a treatment for Alzheimer’s is by creating hollow nano sized capsules, containing a medicine that could stimulate neural growth and pass by the blood brain barrier, which is a big obstacle.
Another method would be to develop nanobots that could flow through the brain and replace damaged neurons and even repair the damaged neurons. Now the idea of nanobots is just an idea but in the future it may be feasible.
Stimulated Bone Growth and better Orthopaedic Implants
Every 10 to 15 years a person’s orthopaedic implant has to be removed and replaced with a new one, this is due to the first implant becoming loose as it is not adhering to the bone around it.
Scientists have developed new orthopaedic implants that still provide the dexterity and optimal functions, but ones that stimulate new bone growth around the implant. This occurs as the surface of the implants contain nanoscale particles that form interactions with proteins that causes bone forming cells to adhere to the implant. This then activates the bones to grow more bone, eventually securing the implant in place either indefinitely or for a much longer period.
Antibacterial Coatings for Everyday Household Appliances
Through nanotechnology research, Silver nanoparticles between 1 nm and 100 nm in size have been created. These nanoparticles, being silver, have antibacterial qualities; therefore they can be/have been incorporated into many household machines such as, washing machines, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and air purifiers. By adding these silver nanoparticles into these items, this significantly reduces the amount of bacteria present, therefore helps to keep us healthy, but also helps to reduce odour from the bacteria.
According to Samsung, the creators of these silver nanoparticles, the particles can sterilise over 650 types of bacteria and provide 99.99% disinfection.
Many of yesterday’s and today’s sunscreens have a whitish appearance. This is due to them containing large particles of compounds which absorb UV radiation. Using nanotechnology, new nanoparticles, of compounds, such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide have been developed with do the same job as the regular white appearing compounds, but they are transparent, therefore making your sunscreen transparent.
UV and Stain Resistant Clothing
Nanoparticles, such as zinc oxide nanoparticles, can be deposited into clothing. These zinc nanoparticles, like those in the transparent sun screens, can absorb UV radiation from the sun to help protect the clothes wearer from the harmful UV rays.
The zinc nanoparticles are hydrophobic, water deterring, and help repel water and even dirt.
Self Cleaning Glass/Windows
Nanotechnology has been employed by a company called Pilkington to create a glass called “Activ Glass”. This glass contains nanoparticles that become energized when UV light, sunlight, shines on them. The energized nanoparticles then begin to break down any dirt or organic material that is one the glass or window, thereby self cleaning it. The nanoparticles also make the glass hydrophilic, water loving, which doesn’t allow water droplets to form on the glass and allows the water to displace over the surface of the glass, so when the water dries the glass does not have water marks.
Scratch Resistant Coatings, such as Scratch Free Automobile Paint
Arup Chatterjee, a scientist in India, has developed a nano powder coating paint for use on Automobiles. The nanopowder paint is scratch free and also graffiti resistant so will keep your paint job like new for good. No angry neighbours will be “keying” your car anymore!
The nanopowder paints can last up to 15 years and also have interesting qualities such as CO2 sequestering, are self cleaning and can conduct heat or are heat resistant.
Lighter Automobiles, Steel as light as Aluminium
Cars can weigh over a tonne, that’s very heavy! The heavier the weight of a car, means a higher cost and higher petrol consumption. Cars need to be made lighter.
This has to be done by either using a new metal alloy or by altering an existing and usual metal alloy used in cars. I’m talking about steel of course.
A company called, ArcelorMital, the largest steel producer, using nanotechnology has developed a new type of steel that is as light a Aluminium.
This can take 188 pounds off the weight of a car, which means many devices in the cars, such as engines and breaks, can be downsized, meaning a reduction in production, in buying costs, plus a reduction in petrol consumption.
The new nanotech steel will be on the markets in a couple of years and in our cars, get ready to save money.
Transparent Computer and TV Screens, Displays on Car Windshields etc…
Engineers have developed new transparent displays made with transparent circuits and transistors. The circuitry is composed of tiny cylindrical nanowires assembled on glass or plastic.
The displays contain OLEDS, organic light emitting diodes, which have increased brightness when compared to the conventional pixels of your average TVs, computer monitors and other electronic display devices.
Since the nanocircuits are so small, about 20 nanometers which is one thousand times thinner than a human hair, the monitors can be made flexible when constructed on thin plastic.
One of the most exciting prospects of these transparent monitors is that they could be incorporated into windshields in automobiles, possibly to display your speed, the time, directions or other useful information while driving.
High Power Batteries
Researchers in MIT have developed higher power lithium ion batteries with the use of carbon nanotubes. The carbon nano tubes are stacked with alternating positive and negative ends on the nanotubes, holding them together. The tubes contain oxygen functional groups on their sides which can store a large number of lithium ions; they also reduce the lithium ion diffusion distances due to redox, reduction oxidation, reactions on the surface.
This large storage of the lithium ions and reduced diffusion distance can provide the carbon nanotube lithium ion batteries with up to 10 times more energy storage, this means they could last 10 times longer than the standard lithium ion battery!
Efficient Cutting Tools
In Moscow,Russia, new nanotechnology machinery has been developed, by Microbore Nanotech that can create cutting tools that rival the strength of those containing the synthetic diamond. It can also be produced faster than its counterparts, from 20 minutes to 24 to 48 hours, respectively.
The cutting tools are created from cubic boron nitride and nano boron nitride and are in fact stronger, more shock and temperature resistant than the synthetic diamond.
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