Nanotechnology: Looking Within to Change the World
Nanotechnology is rapidly emerging to become an interdisciplinary field, with biologists, chemists, physicists, and engineers all becoming involving involved with its study. Nanotechnology deals with the manipulation and study of substances at the nanoscale. Just how small is that? Most of the work at the nanoscale takes place at about 1 to 100 nanometers. For comparison, a sheet of paper is typically around 100,000 nanometers thick, making it exceptionally small. However, there are some incredible things being done with this technology that have the potential to have profound impacts on the world. Let’s check them out.
Scientists have had promising results in utilizing gold nanoparticles as a “sniffer” for cancer and other diseases. When cancerous cells grow within the body, genes and proteins within cells go through changes, emits volatile organic compounds that can be detected. By using these nanoparticle sensors, scientists have developed a sort of early warning system that can tell them if a patient is beginning have signs of cancerous cells in their body, allowing for early treatment.
Not only can nanotechnology be used to detect cancer and disease at an early stage, but it can also be a viable option if fighting them off. A recent study at the University of Missouri was conducted to determine if nanoparticles can be used to fight off cancerous cells. Researchers treated a dog that had golf ball size cancerous tumors, which they injected with a purple liquid containing radioactive gold nanoparticles. These particles latch to volatile cells, rupturing them and draining their contents, leaving your immune system to flush out the rest.
Enhanced Energy Efficiency
Nanotechnology is helping scientists find new ways to greatly increase traditional energy source efficiency, while also helping us explore new alternative energy sources. Nanotechnology is being incorporated into solar panels allowing for sunlight to be converted into more electricity, which could promise an inexpensive solar power for the future. It is also being used to develop new kinds of batteries that are stronger, lighter, and can be charged quicker.
As global pollution continues to become an increasingly pressing issue, nanotechnology could be our secret weapon in keeping our planet clean and healthy. Researchers have developed a fabric “paper towel” woven from extremely small wires that can absorb 20 times its weight in oil for cleanup spills. Nanotechnology has also been used to develop an industrial strength water cleaner, making it easier to remove harmful pollutants from groundwater, allowing for more affordable, cleaner water for people.
The final frontier of human exploration could become much easier thanks to nanotechnology. New high-strength materials made using nanoparticle materials could be used for rockets for space shuttle launches. These materials would help reduce the weight of the spacecraft by as much as 63 %, allowing for cheaper launch costs and increased mission reliability.
By looking with, we are on the cusp on many major breakthroughs using this incredible technology. Nanotechnology certainly has the potential to change the world in a majorly positive way, and it will be exciting to see what comes.