What is nanotechnology?

The concept of nanotechnology has been around for some time and is an active field of research around the world. The definition of nanotechnology is slightly different from other terms in this article. Unlike the latter terms, nanotechnology is not a single field of study. Rather, it's a fairly general umbrella term that encompasses a variety of differing fields. These different fields of research take different approaches to study the same thing - nanoscale - but are often working towards different ends. Nanomaterials are tiny. Many materials scientists are attempting to create materials that are a million times smaller than the width of a human hair, but so far they are only a few hundred times smaller than a human hair.

How is nanotechnology changing the world?

Nanotechnology revolutionizes many industries. It has already shown tremendous potential in improving the efficiency of solar panels, mass spectrometers, nuclear reactors, tissue engineering, and more. Some potential applications of nanotechnology in health and medicine are especially remarkable because they are being developed for less than a hundredth of the cost of traditional drugs or medical procedures. They could, for instance, lead to cheaper, longer-lasting, and better-tolerated treatments for multiple sclerosis, cancer, and kidney disease. Nanomedicine holds great promise for the treatment and prevention of many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. It is now possible to 'shrink' a drug's surface to just one nanometre.

Nanotechnology In Construction

'Nanotechnology' refers to 'materials and devices that are the size of molecules or atoms. Here on Earth, this means that the techniques developed in the sciences of materials science, organic chemistry, physics, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and other engineering fields can be applied to build structures and devices smaller than those existing today. The aforementioned technologies can be applied to create novel materials for building and construction; they can be employed to increase the properties of existing materials, such as their toughness or elasticity; and they can be used to create entirely new materials that had not previously existed. Nanotechnology provides several ways in which to significantly increase the strength, resilience, and stability of existing structures.

Nanotechnology in Food

Researchers in Belgium have discovered how to extract omega-3 fatty acids from algae without using any petrochemical products. The algae cells are broken down by bacteria and reused to produce omega-3 fatty acids that are otherwise difficult to produce in a cost-effective way. Researchers at North Carolina State University have discovered a method of producing a high quality dairy product by modifying the structures of a single gene. This could produce a milk that is made using up to half the water and uses up to 70% less energy than current dairy products. With so many people being mindful of their diets and looking to reduce their carbon footprint, algae could be a significant step in the right direction.

Nanotechnology in Energy

The concept of renewable energy is changing the world. Nanomaterials are used in fields such as the development of ultra-efficient solar cells and batteries, which may lead to a completely new generation of renewable energy devices. Nanomaterials are also being developed for use in catalytic converters, which are commonly used in vehicles, and in processes such as carbon capture and storage, which are designed to trap carbon dioxide emissions. Nanomaterials can also be used to create fuel cells that could work on renewable energy. As a result, the idea of a 'clean revolution' that transforms the world's energy supply is becoming a reality.

Nanotechnology and the environment

Nanotechnology has attracted interest from environmental researchers for its potential to help solve environmental issues. For instance, 'smart' nanomaterials could be used to convert waste plastic into energy or to assist plants to convert carbon dioxide into methane. Nanomaterials could also enable chemicals to be captured from air pollution to convert into industrial chemicals such as catalysts and chemicals that cause plant growth. For example, a coating made with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) can stop the formation of ozone. In the future, nanomaterials may be used to power the plant-based hydrogen economy, where hydrogen is made from renewable energy sources, including sunlight. Nanomaterials have also been seen to have potential use in treating diseases.


Technology can often seem to move so quickly that sometimes you have to take a step back and look at it again. Right now, nanotechnology is transforming a range of everyday objects and processes; from the ways we make and operate devices to how we look after ourselves and each other. You don't have to look far to see the potential of these innovations. It is not too late to help shape their future; it is never too late to ask questions, to speak up, to take part and to shape our future world for the better. Many readers of The Conversation do this every day.

Thank You!!

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