Nanotechnology is the combination of “Nano” and “Technology”. Nano means particle of size 1 to 100 nm and Technology have a collective meaning of techniques, skill, methods, and processes. Overall, it is the technology and innovation which is concerned with building things, material, and devices on the scale of atoms and molecules. The characteristics of the material such as Colour, strength, conductivity, weight, etc. can differ substantially between the nano-scale of a material. Everything in this universe is made up of a collection of small particles. If some technology is used to build a material right from its first atom then its designing, modification, and creation become easy, appropriate, and more specific.
The Particle which is the most fundamental thing of Nanotechnology or more precisely “Nanoparticle”, falls under three major groups: Natural, Incidental, and Engineered. Naturally occurring nanomaterials such as volcanic ash, ocean spray, magnetotactic bacteria, mineral composites, and others exist in our environment. Incidental nanoparticles also referred to as waste particles, are produced as a result of some industrial processes. The third category of nanoparticles is engineered nanoparticles—these are the particles associated with nanotechnology. Engineered nanoparticles are sub-classified by the type of basic material or use: metals, semiconductors, metal oxides, nanoclays, nanotubules, and quantum dots. Within each category, the shapes, sizes, and surface coatings further determine the structure and function of these molecules. Each such material has been specifically designed for function, such as the fullerene C60, which is used for fuel cell applications. Very little is known about engineered nanoparticles and how they interact with cells or human organisms.
So, a big question automatically arises where this technology is used? It is used in almost every field. Many developed countries accepted this technology and working in the R & D department especially for nanotechnology. Fields such as Electronics and IT, Medical and healthcare, energy production and efficiency, environmental remediation have some major applications of Nanotechnology. Some accurate examples are the manufacturing of light-weight material for airplanes, jets, cars, etc, increasing the durability of smart fabrics, Ultra high definition TV sets and screens, better imaging, and diagnostic tool in the health care department, efficient air and water filtration processes, etc.
In the department of Instrumentation and measurement, Nanotechnology has several applications. Development of cheap and dense processors, new and improved sensors which are fabricated to allow more accurate measurements, Improved instrument interoperability and interconnection are some of its major field of concern. Many analyses are obtained by combining test results generated by different instruments. The ‘data fusion’ is often performed by the scientist or engineer only at the end of the measurement process, but a standard format for raw data generated by the instruments which have nanotechnology used in its fabrication process has greatly improved quality and performance than other instruments.
Every technology comes with some disadvantages. Yes, Nanotechnology also has some. Toxic material develops even the nanoparticles are not toxic. It is mostly due to the environmental effects such as physical and chemical parameters like temperature, pressure, UV rays of the sun, etc on the material. The toxicity of the material is also difficult to detect. It can be explained in a more elaborated manner as the toxicity is complicated to determine because not all engineered nanoparticles are more toxic than fine-sized particles of the same chemical composition. The surface coatings of particles, exposure to UV radiation, and dispersion properties can change the behaviour of the particles. Some current hypotheses suggest that some engineered nanoparticles may be more toxic (inflammatory) than other fine-sized particles of identical chemical composition.
John Froines of UCLA once raised the question of whether the research that scientists are doing on airborne particulate matter related health effects has relevance to understanding potential issues concerning nanotechnology. He suggested that there are areas where there are significant differences, but there are also places where there are commonalities. For example, most of the ultrafine particles from diesel emissions are in the 10-nanometer range, classifying them as nanoparticles. He suggested that several biochemical processes may be similar in both the air pollution particles and the engineered particles. So, it is a technology whose proper development in the field of environmental effects and health issues are yet to be determined.
It is an emerging technology that not only holds promise for society but also is capable of revolutionizing our approach to common problems. Nanotechnology is not a completely new field; however, it is only recently that discoveries in this field have advanced so far as to warrant examination of their impact upon the world around us.
Written by Ankur Ashish