Nanotechnology is prevalent in modern life. However, few know this because of the invisible nature of the innovations that the technology spawns. Everyday use of nanotechnology can be found in sweat-wicking socks, cell phones, airplanes, high SPF sunscreen, scratch-resistant sunglasses and wrinkle-free shirts. It can be credited with extending the longevity of many products and increasing their safety.
Examples of nanoparticles and their uses
The main reason why many do not understand the extensive implementation of nanotechnology is because of its microscopic nature - proving the old adage “out of sight; out of mind.” A nanoparticle is a small object that behaves as a whole unit in terms of its transport and properties. Nanoparticles are considered objects between 1 and 100 nanometers. One nanometer is 10 to the negative 9th meters, making it 8 times smaller than a water molecule and completely invisible to the human eye.
Technology such as the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, created in 1981 by Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig has allowed scientists to map the topography of nanoparticles and further understand their composition. As stated by our instructor, Victoria Vesna, the unique properties of various nanoparticles has the ability to turn opaque materials transparent, make stable compounds combustible and turn insulators into conductors. Besides the use of nanotechnology in our everyday products, it can be found in medical commodities. Companies such as CytImmune are developing new cancer therapies that will deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer cells. Silicon nanoparticles will be inserted into the user and will degrade, releasing nanoparticles filled with proteins that directly inject medicine to kill cancer cells.
Video showing mice organs made transparent
The market for new nanotechnology is growing. Eric Drexler of the Foresight Institute, a futurist organization, stated, “In the long run, we will turn dirt into food, ending world hunger, which is another theme that propagated around some nanotechnology enthusiasts who believe it will give humans the power of telepathy. ” As stated in Victoria Vesna’s paper entitled The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of Fact and Fiction in the Construction of a New Science, nanotechnology has the potential to solve starvation as well as create new avenues of communication between the human race. Not only can nanotechnology affect materials on a small scale, it can also affect large scale endeavors such as space travel. A space elevator utilizing nanoparticles in its engineering would allow faster and efficient space exploration.
A film explaining space elevators
Nanotechnology is leading to innovations in artistic expression. Nanoart is an emerging media that utilizes scanning tunneling microscope to make a colorized nanolandscape which are then photographed and blown up to make it accessible to larger audiences. It’s possibilities and limits are unknown.
Nanoart created by Cris Orfescu
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