According to Ralph Merkle, “Nanotechnology is an idea that most people simply didn’t believe”.
But it is a fact in present era and it will be in our hands in from of a commodity or a device or even large structures.
Nanotechnology is manufacturing with atoms. We arrange bricks to built house similarly we want to build purpose-built devices by arranging atoms one by one in the same fashion.
But why scientists urge to do this? They simply want to get tailor-made properties in the material of interest.
But is this as easy as it looks like? The answer is NO. There is a saying that devil lies in the details. And no subject needs more details than the arrangement of atoms one by one. Generally, nanotechnology deals with structures sized between 1 to 100 nanometers in at least one dimension.
There has been much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many issues including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as supposition about various Eschaton scenarios.
“There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”, a talk given by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at Caltech on December 29, 1959, mentioned the term Nanotechnology first time in the history.
To get a knowhow of the basics of nanotechnology, one should have some Fundamental concepts. One nanometer (nm) is one billionth, or 10−9, of a meter. The comparative size of a nanometer to a meter is the same as that of a marble to the size of the earth. Nano is not what apple tells you in form of Nano iPods. Actually, nanotechnology is much more complex than your nano iPods and computers. A material behaves and shows quite different properties when reduced to the nanometer scale from that of bulk, enabling unique applications. Following examples are sufficient to give an insight of some of the potential uses and magical effects of this technology. Copper is an opaque substance becomes transparent when reduces to nanometer regimes, Aluminum, a stable material, turns into a combustible one. Insoluble materials become soluble (gold). Much of the fascination with nanotechnology stems from these quantum and surface phenomena that matter exhibits at the nanoscale.
Nanotechnology is quite different from other branches of engineering and technology. Nanotechnology is purely a fusion of other technologies like chemistry, physics, electronics and biology etc. A good nanotechnologist usually has a diverse background of other branches of science. Currently two kinds of approaches are being implemented in this nanotechnology field.
Bottom-up approaches: These seek to arrange smaller components into more complex assemblies. Top-down approaches: These seek to create smaller devices by using larger ones to direct their assembly.
Carbon nanotubes, buckeyballs and fullerenes are some of the nanomaterials currently being prepared.
Just as silicon transistors replaced old vacuum tube technology and enabled the electronic age, carbon nanotube devices could open a new era of electronics. It can greatly help in the future of miniaturization of electronic devices. Every industry that involves manufactured items will be impacted by nanotechnology research. Everything can be made in some way better—stronger, lighter, cheaper, easier to recycle—if it’s engineered and manufactured at the nanometer scale.
Let’s wait for the era when we would be able to enjoy nanotechnology in form of some product or nanomachine in our hands!
Learn more about this author, Rizwan Noor.