Every day, it seems like companies are releasing or developing some sort of new gadget or device that will enhance our capabilities. From everyday products to more advanced systems and devices used in transportation, medicine, and science—there is always something getting an upgrade. And we can thank modern technology for these advancements.
One area of tech in particular that numerous industries are increasingly starting to make use of is nanoscience and nanotechnology. Surprisingly, the first uses and developments of nanoscience date as far back as ancient Greece, when scientists and philosophers were pondering over life and the existence of matter. However, it wasn’t until later in the 1950s that people began to discuss and understand nanoscience on a larger scale, and then in the 80s, further technological developments made the application of nanotechnology possible.
Nanotech and nanoscience, in basic terms, are the application and study of tiny things, but more specifically, nanotechnology is the control and manipulation of individual atoms and molecules. By applying nanotechnology, scientists can enhance the properties of certain materials, making them stronger, lighter, and more efficient in various ways. And as nanotech has become more accessible and easier to use, applications of it are being seen not just in areas of science but in many products, materials, and industries.
How Engineers Are Using Nanotechnology
Several areas of engineering are likely making use of nanotechnology but one area in particular that specializes in the creation of nanomaterials is material engineering. Materials engineers are responsible for designing and developing materials such as plastics, metals, polymers, alloys, and even custom materials to meet the needs of a specific project.
Numerous industries and sectors require material engineers, such as transportation, aerospace, electronics, and medicine. And often, material engineers will work solely with one material, like metal engineers, plastics engineers, and of course, nanomaterial engineers.
Nanomaterial engineers focus on using nanotechnology to improve and enhance products used across a wide variety of industries. Carbon nanotubes, for example, are helpful in the creation of tennis rackets and golf balls to make them stronger and lighter, and filters containing nanomaterial silicates can help filter out polluted wastewater. Nanomaterial engineers even design everyday household products like bandages and sunscreen using nanoparticles.
Nanotechnology in Home Construction
When building your own home versus buying something prefab or an older build, there is a lot of thought and effort that goes into creating a design that meets your specific needs. These days especially, many individuals are looking to build homes that use the latest technology to create a more efficient and eco-friendly design.
One way to do this is to use products and materials made of nanomaterials and nanoparticles. While you might think products with nanotechnology are out of reach due to cost or availability, many homes and everyday household products are already made using nanomaterials.
For example, in the kitchen, some sinks are readily available with filters that use nanotechnology to provide cleaner water. And in the laundry room, detergents have zeolites, which contain nanoporous structures that absorb heavy metals and bad smells. Nanoparticles are also often found in some paints to help absorb UV light.
Healthcare and Nanotechnology
The fields of medicine and healthcare are areas that benefit greatly from advancements in technology. The more we learn and discover, the more we can apply new tech to help treat and heal patients more efficiently and effectively. Nanotechnology especially has given us the ability to enhance our ability to make repairs in the human body at a cellular level.
Nanotechnology is advancing our ability to detect and treat abnormalities in the human body. For example, doctors are using nanoparticles attracted to diseased cells to seek out and directly treat cancer cells, allowing them to minimize damage to healthy cells. This use of nanotech not only allows us to treat cancer more effectively but will revolutionize the way we will detect and treat disease in the future.
Some scientists are even beginning to experiment with nanoparticles in everyday supplements. By using nanotech in this way, our bodies will absorb the supplements and nutrients more efficiently. Additionally, the nanoparticles in the supplements will allow them to reach parts of the body that are generally not accessible. Our bodies can then store the vitamins and nutrients for more extended periods.
Other Applications of Nanotechnology
The following are just a few of the many other ways scientists are applying nanotechnology today:
- Food: Scientists are using nanotech to change how we grow and package food, as well as using nanoparticles to change how food tastes and how we absorb it into our bodies.
- Clothing: Nanoparticles can improve fabric properties, making it stronger, yet allowing it to maintain its lightness and flexibility.
- Environment: Nanotechnology can help improve the efficiency of fuel cells, make solar cells more efficient and affordable, enhance the quality of water, and reduce the number of harsh chemicals and vapours escaping into the air.
- Space travel: Nanomaterials allow for the construction of more lightweight spacecraft, making space-flight more accessible and practical.
We could go on for days about all of the ways scientists and experts are using nanotechnology to advance science, medicine, materials, and other products and industries. It is truly a revolutionary area of tech and science that is paving the way for the future by allowing us to effect change in so many ways.