What is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology, or “Nanotech”, is
the study of the control of matter on
an atomic and molecular scale.
The topic of nanotechnology was
first touched upon by physicist
Richard Feynman in his talk “There’s
Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” at an
American Physical Society meeting
at Caltech on December 29, 1959.
It deals with structures of the size
100 nanometres or smaller where
One nanometre = one
billionth of a millimetre }
Top: Hydro Electric Power Generation
Bottom: A fly holding a nano microchip chip
FROM LARGER TO SMALLER:
Quantum Size Effect is when
the electronic properties of solids
are altered with great reductions in
particle size. This effect becomes
dominant only at nanoscale.
Aluminium cut in half remains
aluminium. However, at nanoscale it
becomes highly reactive since the
molecular structure is changed.
Similarly, copper becomes
transparent, gold can be liquefied
at room temperature and silicon
becomes a conductor of electricity.
Top: Liquid gold
Bottom: Change in colour of a material with reduction in size chip
SIMPLE to COMPLEX:
Molecular self-assembly NANOLITHOGRAPHY refers to the fabrication of
is the process by which molecules nanometer-scale structures developing patterns with at
adopt a defined arrangement without least one lateral dimension of the size of an individual
guidance or management from an atom and approximately 100 nm. Futuristic companies
outside source. like IBM are currently researching on the subject
because of its potential in the field of electronics.
Molecular nanotechnology (MNT)
therefore, would be a branch where
“machines at the molecular scale are
designed and built atom-by-atom”.
Left: Molecular self assembly
Right: Silicon fabricated in the IBM research lab chip
Medicine Integration of Magnetic nanoparticles offer an
nanomaterials with biology has led effective and reliable method to
to the development of diagnostic remove heavy metal contaminants
devices, contrast agents, analytical from waste water
tools, physical therapy applications,
and drug delivery vehicles.
Nanotechnology can help reproduce
or repair damaged tissues and can
replace conventional treatments like
Recycling Batteries Today,
the huge number of spent batteries
represents a disposal problem.
Batteries with higher rate of
recharging using nanomaterials
could be helpful.
Nano-foods Nanotechnology While the canola oil is meant to contain an
consumer products are increasing additive called “nanodrops” designed to carry
steadily in the market. The Project vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals through
on Emerging Nanotechnologies the digestive system, the shake, uses cocoa
(PEN) has listed three foods -- a infused with “NanoClusters” to enhance the
brand of canola cooking oil called taste and health benefits of cocoa without the
Canola Active Oil, a tea called need for extra sugar.
Nanotea and a chocolate diet shake
called Nanoceuticals Slim Shake
has the potential to change the
entire agriculture sector and food
industry chain from production
to conservation, processing,
packaging, transportation, and even
Injection of nanoparticles in food
Health Nanotechnology’s health NANOPOLLUTION is a generic name for all
implications can be split into two waste generated by nanodevices or during the
aspects: have medical applications nanomaterials manufacturing process. This
to cure disease, and the potential kind of waste may be very dangerous because
health hazards posed by exposure to of its size. It can float in the air and might
nanomaterials. easily penetrate animal and plant cells causing
Society There is a major
possibility of military applications of
nanotechnology. The abundance of
material caused by nanotechnology
can result in the change of global
economic and political scenario.
An imagined nanopollution scenario
Corporate On the structural CARBON NANOTUBES (CNTs) are allotropes
level, critics of nanotechnology of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure.
point to a new world of ownership Their length-to-diameter ratio is up to
and corporate control opened up 28,000,000:1. These cylindrical carbon
by nanotechnology. For example, molecules exhibit extraordinary strength and
carbon nanotubes have a wide range unique electrical properties, and are efficient
of uses, especially with respect conductors of heat. Their final usage, however,
to computers and its patents may be limited by their potential toxicity.
have already been bought by big
companies like NEC and IBM
Agriculture Applications of
nanotechnology have the potential
to change the entire agriculture
sector and food industry chain
from production to conservation,
transportation, and even waste
It is a hypothetical end-of-the-
world scenario involving molecular
nanotechnology in which out-of-
control self-replicating robots
consume all matter on Earth while
building more of themselves—a
scenario known as ecophagy
(“eating the environment”).
Robots taking over the Earth
There has been an ongoing NANOTOXICOLOGY is the study of the
argument about whether toxicity of nanomaterials. These studies are
nanotechnology should be regulated intended to determine the extent of which
by the government these pose a threat to the environment
and to human beings. For instance, Diesel
Regulatory bodies such as the nanoparticles have been found to damage the
United States Environmental cardiovascular system in a mouse model.
Protection Agency and the Food and
Drug Administration in the U.S. or
the Health & Consumer Protection
Directorate of the European
Commission have started dealing
with the potential risks posed by
nanoparticles. So far, nothing is
subject to any special regulation
regarding production, handling or
What comes under
According to Dr. Mark, the world
is yet to see its first nanorobot,
that is if it is necessary to provide a
robot with anthropomorphic features.
A virus injected in a human body
does the task it has to do. But is it
considered a nanorobot? If not then
Do we need to change our
perception of robotics?
Nanotechnology and its use in fiction
have attracted scholarly attention.
Arthur Clarke’s “The Next
Tenants” (1956) describes tiny
machines that operate on a micro
scale (one millionth of a metre)
Michael Crichton’s novel Prey
describes a swarm of molecule-sized
nanorobots develop intelligence and
become a large scale threat.
Top: Arthur Clarke
Bottom: Michael Crichton
Possible Direction for
Grey Goo scenario
Nano - robotics
Sargam Gupta Science Fiction Visual Communication Design