ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Physics

Nanotechnology: Potential and Reality

Updated on April 23, 2012

What is nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is one of the most exciting developments in science and engineering since the computer. It is a conceptually radical idea that was initially derided as pure science-fiction: namely, to build from an atomic and molecular level. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Thus, nanotechnology is smaller than the eye can see. The idea of engineering at a molecular level fundamentally changes how we can manipulate nature.

It all started 20 years ago when a new type of carbon allotrope was discovered, the Buckminsterfullerenes or C60. It was discovered that c60 could be ‘grown’ and manipulated to make more complex structures. This is the birth of nanotechnology.

The potential of nanotechnology

Since that time scientists and social commentators have jumped the gun somewhat. They envision the benefits and risks of nanotechnology before the technology has gone beyond its infancy.

Mihail Roco has devised the 4 generations of nanotechnology:
1) Passive – Materials contain nanostructures that can perform one function such as coatings and reinforced composites.
2) Active – Nanotechnology that can do things like travel through the body and deliver drugs
3) Nanosystems – Where nanotechnologies can work together on a larger scale to make buildings, robots etc.
4) Molecular nanosystems – The final stage where we can design engines at a molecular level; machines built entirely from a universe of nanosystems that will essentially be like organic matter.

It is supposed that as nanotechnology advances through these stages the cost of manufacturing will be greatly reduced. Nano-machines can make more nano-machines. Factories will be the size of matchboxes. Nanotechnology can greatly improve agricultural output, can destroy cancerous cells, can revolutionize communication, and can make construction automatic. We will enter a new and undreamt of age through nanotechnology.

That is if the nanosystems don’t escape, go rogue and proliferate in a viral way that is inimical to human and animal health. Attendant to these worries are concerns about how the military will develop weapons using nanotechnology.

Nano particles on windscreen

Reality of nanotechnology in 2012

The reality of how far nanotechnology has come is a lot more prosaic than the envisioned ‘evolution’ of nanotechnology.

  • A coating has been made for windows that use nanoparticles to improve visibility during rain. This is called Nanofilm.
  • A123 Systems use Nanophosphate technology to make the world’s safest and most rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. This battery has been used to break the land speed record for an electric bike: zero to 60 mph in 1.04 seconds using 10 cents of electricity.
  • The Japanese have coated bowling balls with nano-particles to improve performance.
  • Nano-particles have also been added to composites to make harder materials.


That is it, really. We are nowhere near nano-fertilizers, nano-drugs, nano-factories or nano-weapons. Mihail Roco predicted we would be making fourth generation nanotechnology by 2015. We are still on stage one.

Nanotechnology taken seriously

And yet nanotechnology is taken very seriously. It is the plan of China to move into nanotechnology. The Thai government wants to use nanotechnology in 1% of all consumer goods by 2013. That was the goal set in 2004. I guess they will let that deadline slip.

In America, US National Nanotechnology Initiative’s budget rose from US$116 million in 1997 to a requested US$849 million in 2004.

In short, governments, business and the stock market are taking nanotechnology very seriously. They are hoping to steal the competitive edge on each other, and to make a fortune like the internet made many fortunes. How long the funding will last without new nano-products to sell is hard to say.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • rick combe profile image

      rick combe 6 years ago from USA

      Nanotechnology is very exciting, especially in it's potential to treat diseases. Also, we can't imagine all the things that will be possible with the nano-systems you mentioned above.

    • smartcontentz profile image
      Author

      smartcontentz 6 years ago from Japan

      I'm a layman Silwen, but I believe the idea of nanotechnology is not just to do with size but is also about being able to engineer from the molecular level.

    • Silwen profile image

      Silwen 6 years ago from Europe

      I would like to specify the term itself. Nanotechnology is the science that deal with structures, objects and etc. that have dimensions 1-100nm. So while speaking about nanotechnology we should not forget the technologies that are widely used today. The main area that uses nanotechnology is chip manufacturing. We have 45nm, 35nm and now 22 nm technology is coming for creating integrated circuits. So these structures in one way or another can be called a part of nanotechnology.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)