Essay on Nanotechnology: A New Revolution

Nanotechnology is the engineering of tiny machines. This will be done inside personal Nano factories using techniques and tools being developed today to make advanced products. This will result in a manufacturing revolution. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, probably the width of three or four atoms. A human hair is about 25000 nanometers wide. So, one can imagine how small these machines will be.

The development and progress in artificial intelligence and molecular technology have spawned this new form of technology i.e. Nanotechnology.

The ideas and concepts behind nanoscience and nanotechnology started with a talk entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) on 29th December, 1959, long before the term nanotechnology was used. In his talk, Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules. Over a decade later, in his explorations of ultraprecision machining, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology. It wasn’t until 1981, with the development of the scanning tunnelling microscope that could “see” individual atoms, that modern nanotechnology began.

Nanotechnology is sometimes called a general-purpose technology. The reason is because, in its advanced form, it will have significant impact on almost all industries and all areas of society. It will help create better built, longer lasting, cleaner, safer and smarter products for the home, communications, medicine, transportation, agriculture and for industry in general. It is more than just mixing nanoscale materials together. It requires the ability to understand and to precisely manipulate and control those materials in a useful way. Nanotechnology involves a new and broad science where diverse fields such as physics, chemistry, biology, material science, and engineering converge at the nanoscale. It is important to understand that nanoscale materials are found in nature. For instance, haemoglobin, the oxygen-transporting protein found in red blood cells, is 5.5 nanometers in diameter. Naturally occurring nanomaterials exist all around us, such as in smoke from fire, volcanic ash, and sea spray. Some nanomaterials are a byproduct of human activity, such as bus and automobile exhaust and welding fumes.

To understand its implications, try to imagine a medical device that roams through the human body to find and destroy tiny clusters of cancerous cells before they can spread, a box of size of a sugar cube that  holds the entire contents of a public library, or materials ten times lighter than steel that are ten times stronger, nanotech will result in greatly improved efficiency in almost every aspect of life as has been mentioned above

You may guess from the size of the normal metre scale that the nanoscale is about 1 to 100 nanometers. Working at the nanoscale requires an understanding of the various types and dimensions of nanoscale materials Different types of nanomaterials  are named for their individual shapes and dimensions. Think of these simply as particles, tubes, wires, films, flakes, or shells that have one or more nanometer-sized dimension. For example, carbon nanotubes have a diameter in the nanoscale, but can be several hundred nanometers long or even longer. Nanofilms or nanoplates have a thickness in the nanoscale, but their other two dimensions can be much larger.

The key is to be able to both see and manipulate nanomaterials in order to take advantage of their special properties. As mentioned earlier, the invention of special microscopes gave scientists the ability to work at the nanoscale. The first of these new discoveries was the scanning tunneling microscope. While it’s mainly designed to measure objects, it can also move tiny objects such as carbon nanotubes.

People are doing many different types of work in the field of nanotechnology. Most current work looks at making nanoparticles that have special properties, such as the way they scatter light, absorb X-rays, transport electrical current or heat etc. At the more “science fiction” end of the field are attempts to make small copies of bigger machines or really new ideas for structures that make themselves. New materials are possible with nano size structures. It is even possible to work with single atoms.

Nanotechnology will have both commercial and military uses. It can be used to create powerful weapons and tools of surveillance. So, it comes with benefits and risks. It implies not just better products, but a much improved manufacturing process. With nanotech, building products may become as cheap as the copying of files on a computer. This explains why it is sometimes seen as “the next industrial revolution”. This technology could give the human race eternal life or it could cause complete destruction.