What is Nanotechnology? Advantages and Disadvantages of it

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What is Nanotechnology? Advantages and Disadvantages of it

Nanotechnology is the technology, science and engineering that is conducted, researched, investigated, and experimented at the nanoscale. The nanoscale is the scale of 1 to 100 nanometers. Physicist Richard Feynman is the father of nanotechnology.

Living beings are made from cells where a cell is the smallest unit of an organism. Just like our bodies are made from organs, organs from tissues and tissues from cells; all non-living things are made from atoms. An atom is the smallest particle that can exist in any nonliving object.

The scanning tunneling microscope

There’s no way we can see an atom with our naked eyes. Does it mean that we need a microscope to see atoms? Yes, not the ordinary one but the special microscope invented recently with the tendency to see atoms known as the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) through which scientists could view and study atoms. This helped them to come up with a new science called "Nano-science".

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How does nano-science work?

Nano-science enables the application of smallest particles to create nanotechnology which manipulates molecules and atoms to accomplish increased functioning of nearly all the things existing in the world.

Controlling atoms

Since nanotechnology empowers us to control atoms, this is something regarded as the biggest achievement ever. When atoms are directed to behave the way we like, they can be brought to utility using the smallest possible size of an element by spending just the required amount of resources. Now the things to achieve the same quality or even better quality results can be in much smaller size, lighter weight and greater strength and reactivity.

Historical background

The term nanotechnology was coined by Eric Drexler, an American engineer. The word “nano” is commonly used as a prefix which means something very tiny, minute or small. Literally, it means one-billionth of something, denoted by a 10-9 symbol.However, the concept of nanotechnology was introduced way before it was given its name. It was there when even the STM wasn’t invented and atoms couldn’t be seen with the simple microscope. Richard Feynman, an American physicist in 1959, directly talked about the possibility of an invention that can help manipulate the atoms and molecules and the processes that it can be applied to.

Nano-technology and other sciences

Nanotechnology is like a helping hand to all other fields of science, be it engineering, biology, medical science, chemistry or any subject that involves the utility of atoms. When it builds complete products on an atomic and molecular level, one can imagine the benefits world can derive from it.

Advantages of Nanotechnology

Primarily nanotechnology has the following benefits to offer to the world:

  • It will help in manufacturing the products that will be way cheaper, more functional, energy-saving and lighter in weight. Japan is already investing $750 million a year in nanotechnology. It’s estimated that within the next 15 years, the global market will be making $1 trillion worth of nanotechnology products a year.
  • There will a mindboggling impact of nanotechnology on health where researchers are already working on studying the spread of malaria in the human body using nanotechnology to create its vaccine.
  • Nanotechnology can help to improve the effects of drugs and medicines by making them more functional, cheaper and durable.
  • It promises to provide better water purification techniques and ensure long-lasting distillation measures.
  • Nanotechnology pesticides for crops will directly attack the pathogens in agriculture fields without destroying or causing any harm to the crops. At the same time, it will help in increasing the efficiency of fertilizers.
  • It can help to provide cheaper sources of energy, be it renewable or non-renewable.

Disadvantages of Nanotechnology

Apart from the merits, there are possibilities that nanotechnology will be a hazard for the environment in a sense that these nanoparticles have the tendency to accumulate in the atmosphere and even in the food chain. Hence, researchers must bring this matter to their consideration to work on the preventive measures of this adverse impact prior to fully implementing nanotechnology in products.

Interesting Facts:

  • 1 meter = 1,000,000,000 nanometers (1e+9 nanometer)
  • 1 inch = 25,400,000 nanometers
  • A single page of newspaper is almost 100,000 nanometer thick.
  • The diameter of a single human hair is 80,000 nanometers.
  • Nanotechnology is built on a scale that is 1000 times smaller than anything you can see with an optical microscope.
  • Nanoscience and nanotechnology are not just limited to one field. It works as a platform that includes or combines biology, physics, chemistry, material science and engineering.


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