For something that we cannot even see with our eyes (or with a microscope), the buzz around nanotechnology has not been modest. But the developments are widely anticipated in the tech world. Nanotechnology is a field that is concerned with manipulating and building materials at a nanoscopic scale. There are a variety of things that nanotech is supposedly capable of – from increasing the efficiency of energy to solving problems in the medical field. This article covers the top inventions and advancements in this field of nanotechnology. Read on:
Geckos are creatures that can climb walls and walk on ceilings. This is due to the presence of tiny adhesive hair of about 200 nanometres in width and length on the soles of their toes. Scientists and researchers have managed to develop artificial dry adhesive systems like the gecko tape, which has properties similar to that of a gecko’s feet. Of course, these artificial adhesive fibers are not nearly as efficient when used with objects in higher weight categories (or we would already have had spiderman knockoffs climbing walls in every neighborhood). However, research is ongoing with its constant improvements.
Current wound healing methods generally provide unsatisfactory outcomes because they take too long and don’t always work. Nanotechnology can increase the efficiency of wound healing therapies. Researchers have demonstrated quite a few uses of nanotechnology with regards to healing wounds. It has been shown that bandages that apply electrical pulses to a wound using electricity produced by nanogenerators and is when worn by the patient, can speed up healing. In the case of internal bleeding, research is currently being done to develop polymer nanoparticles that act as synthetic platelets to reduce blood loss. Other advancements include the usage of nanoparticles to induce clotting.
Yes, the same one that Harry Potter used to go on all those adventures. With nanotech, invisibility cloaks are a reality. Scientists and researchers have devised an ultra-thin (barely 80nm in thickness) invisibility cloak that can conform to the shape of an object and conceal it from the detection of visible light by manipulating interactions between light and metamaterials. The cloak is currently only microscopic but the principles behind the technology should enable it to be scaled-up for macroscopic objects as well.
Solar electricity is harnessed using photovoltaic cells, which are, in turn made using expensive crystalline silicon. Researchers are looking for ways to lower the cost of producing solar cells and panels through nanotechnology. Various advances have incorporated nanotechnology into solar panels like silicon nanoparticles, to simultaneously improve efficiency while also reducing maintenance and manufacturing costs.
Nano-textiles involve tweaking the properties of nanofibers at atomic levels. Clothing companies use nano additives to enhance the surface characteristics of clothes to give rise to products that are wrinkle-resistant, colour durable, lightweight, and water/stain resistant. It is also possible to turn clothes into climate control systems as nanotechnology tweaked clothes have better thermal performance.
Detection and Diagnosis
With diseases like cancer, winning the fight is mostly about early detection. Nanotechnology-based techniques can provide rapid testing, potentially within one visit. Researchers are developing a method to collect and analyze nano-sized exosomes to check for biomarkers indicating cancer. Nanotechnology also can detect every single cancerous cell and deliver highly combatting drugs to it. Certain nanomaterials can deliver drugs at only specific sites so that toxicity can be reduced.
Surprising as it may seem, nanotech is also relevant in the field of sports. Carbon nanotubes are known for their mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. These properties are used for increasing the strength of various sporting goods. In tennis, carbon nanotechnology is used to increase the strength of the racquets by adding nanotubes to the frames which increases power and control. This also reduces the rate of air leaks from tennis balls which helps them bounce longer. In golf, nanotubes are used for filling any imperfections in the club shaft materials. This helps improve the swing.
It is obvious how diverse the field of nanotechnology is. People have been talking about it for decades now but only recently has it started to have some real progress. The potential that this field possesses is probably bigger than we imagine. But, as exciting as the field may seem, it is best to be cautious. Scientists think that informed debates should take place regarding the capabilities of nanotechnology. However, it is still undeniable that our current lives can drastically be improved using this technology.