Nanotechnology, as the name suggests, involves building and controlling of materials at the atomic level. This is roughly a scale of 1 to 100 nanometers. This brings about new applications in various fields making possible new and improved functions using nanotechnology (Fulekar, 2010). This is because at the atomic scale materials behave differently in ways that can be harnessed in the development of new and improved systems. This paper looks at some of the current and future uses of nanotechnology in different fields.
Applications in Medicine
Nanotechnology uses in medicine include new and improved ways of manufacturing and administering of drugs as well as carrying out a diagnosis (Ramsden, 2011). Currently, drugs are administered, and the body has to transport them through the blood to different body systems; nanotechnology can allow for targeting of specific cells in the body. Drugs can be coated with nanoparticles that only react with specific cells that are currently infected. This not only makes the drugs more effective, it also reduces the time it takes for drugs to act. The same targeting can be used in the detection of abnormal growths in the body like tumors and other cancerous cells. Using the same process, the said cells can be destroyed before they cause a lot of harm to the individual. This makes it easy to treat diseases like cancer with very little side effects.
In the engineering field, nanotechnology is used to improve the manufacturing process as well as in the construction of new materials (Ratner & Ratner, 2003). Nanotechnology is used in the study of cell flow and dynamic fluid mechanics. In computational nanotechnology, a lot of research is underway to develop nanoelectronics as well as microelectronics. Research is also underway to help develop new ways of manufacturing nanoparticles using nanotechnology. Currently, it takes a lot of time and money to develop nanoparticles, and this has slowed down progress in the field. Future applications in the field include manufacturing chips that can detect and destroy food contaminants as well as in the construction of artificial body organs.
Nanotechnology has also improved space exploration by helping in the construction of new systems that help make space exploration safer for astronauts. The first major advantage of nanotechnology is the construction of newer materials with a very high strength to weight ratios (Wilson, Kannangara & Smith, 2002). Such elements, though light, are very strong making it easy to transport them. Such materials will be used in the construction of future spacecraft as well as the astronauts’ suits. Another great benefit of nanotechnology to space exploration is in the development of micro-mechanical devices that can interact with matter at the molecular level. This in turn makes it very easy to explore as well as identify different matter and particles in space. Lastly, nanotechnology will help space exploration by making possible the manufacturing of microelectronics on the fly. This means that astronauts can easily manufacture new electronics while on a mission to suit the needs of that specific mission. This will greatly reduce the expenses incurred in space exploration.
Fuel cell development
In fuel cell development, nanotechnology helps in the development of more efficient and stable fuel cells. This is possible since nanotechnology allows for mixing and manipulating fuels at the molecular level allowing for more efficient reactions (Fulekar, 2010). Nanotechnology also helps in the purification of the materials used in the development of fuel cells. This results in more efficient fuel systems as well as delivery systems.
Air and water purification
Just like in medicine, nanotechnology can be used to purify water sources by targeting and attacking water contaminants.
Nanotechnology in the field of agriculture can be used to develop nano pesticides, nano fungicides, nano herbicides and insect management (Ramsden, 2011). It can also be used in breeding where nanotechnology allows for smart gene delivery systems. Just like in medicine, nanotechnology also allows for early detection and attack of pathogens and other diseases in plants.
- Fulekar, M. H. (2010). Nanotechnology: Importance and Applications. New : I. K. International .
- Ramsden, J. (2011). Nanotechnology: An Introduction. Oxford: William Andrew.
- Ratner, M., & Ratner, D. (2003). Nanotechnology: A Gentle Introduction to the Next Big Idea. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
- Wilson, M., Kannangara, K., & Smith, G. (2002). Nanotechnology: Basic Science and Emerging Technologies. New York: CRC Press.