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What is Nanotechnology

What is Nanotechnology

Introduction to Nanotechnology

You may have seen beautiful glasses in various old buildings including

Remember those yellow and red colored stained glasses…
Many of these owe their brilliance to nanotechnology.

Gold and Silver nanoparticles provide ruby red color or deep yellow color in some of those stained glasses.

We can say that stained glass artists were the early users of
nanotechnology from 30 BC…

Remember the Lycurgus Cup, which is in British Museum, London. This
artifact dates back to fourth century A.D.
The color of this cup changes from green to red. When it is illuminated from outside, you
see a green cup but when it is illuminated from inside, you see a red cup.
The glass cup contains nanoparticles of gold and silver.

The size of the metal nanoparticles produce these color variations. This
example of the dramatic change in material properties (in this case, color)
at the nanoscale is a key component of nanotechnology.

People have been using nanotechnology to solve problems and create
marvelous new materials for thousands of years, long before there was a
word for it.

Welcome to the realm of Nano Technology, where scientists and engineers
manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular levels to create
revolutionary materials, devices, and systems.
In the vast world of science and technology, this groundbreaking
technology operates at the smallest scale imaginable.

Join us on a fascinating journey as we delve into the captivating world of
Nanotechnology, uncovering its history, inner workings, remarkable
features, and the transformative impact it holds for various industries.

Interesting Things about Nano Technology:

a) Nano Technology allows us to manipulate matter at the nanoscale, which
is approximately 1 to 100 nanometers, unlocking a realm where the
properties of materials change dramatically.

b) This technology has the potential to revolutionize fields such as
medicine, electronics, energy, and environmental conservation, paving the
way for innovative solutions to complex global challenges.

c) Nano Technology offers a glimpse into a future where we can engineer
materials with extraordinary properties, such as self-healing coatings, ultra-
efficient energy storage devices, and targeted drug delivery systems.

As per agreed standard, 1 nanometer means one-billionth, or 10 -9 .
So, one nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

Some examples from our day-to-day life to relate to nanometer.
1. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
2. One inch contains 25,400,000 nanometers.
3. One human hair is 80,000-100,000 nanometers wide.


What is Nanotechnology:

Nanotechnology controls matter on a tiny scale, at the atomic and
molecular level.
When materials are changed on the nanometric scale, they develop and
show unusual properties that diverge from their presentation on the
macroscopic scale.
We have observed changes like ‘change in color or change in malleability’.
Also at this level, there is a bigger surface area with respect to volume.

A change in surface area can result in a change in physical, chemical,
optical or mechanical makeup. So, the nano particles of these materials can be more durable, robust or conductive than their life-sized counterparts.

Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field that involves manipulating and
controlling matter at the nanoscale.

It encompasses various techniques and
tools to understand, fabricate, and utilize structures and materials at the
atomic and molecular level, leading to the creation of novel materials and
devices with unique properties.


History of Nanotechnology:

The concept of Nano Technology traces back to physicist Richard
Feynman’s visionary speech in 1959, where he discussed the potential of
manipulating matter at the atomic scale.

Significant milestones include the invention of the scanning tunneling
microscope (STM) by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer in 1981, which
allowed visualization and manipulation of individual atoms, and the
establishment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the United States
in 2000, which spurred global research and development efforts.



How Nanotechnology Works:

Nano Technology involves manipulating matter and structures at the
nanoscale through various techniques, including top-down and bottom-up
Top-down approaches involve carving or scaling down larger materials to
the desired size, while bottom-up approaches involve building structures
atom by atom or molecule by molecule.

Apart from that, nanotechnology can be classified between

Dry nanotechnology: Used in silicon, coal, metal and semi-conductors
that do not involve, work with humidity.
Wet Nanotechnology: It is based on biological matter present in aqueous
environment like membranes, enzymes, genetic material, and other cellular

Important Features of Nano Technology:

a) Size-Dependent Properties: At the nanoscale, materials exhibit unique
properties, such as increased surface area, quantum effects, and altered
mechanical, electrical, and optical properties, which can be harnessed for
various applications.

b) Precision and Control: Nanotechnology enables precise manipulation
and control of matter at the atomic and molecular levels, allowing scientists
to engineer materials with desired properties and functionalities.

c) Interdisciplinary Nature: Nanotechnology draws upon knowledge and
expertise from various disciplines, including physics, chemistry, materials
science, and biology, fostering collaboration and innovation across
scientific boundaries.

An important point to note here is that the smaller a nanoparticle gets, the
larger its relative surface area becomes.
At this size, its electronic structure changes dramatically. This leads to
greatly improved catalytic activity and different chemical reactivity.

At nanoscale, materials show very different properties compared to what
they show on a macroscale.
For example

1. Copper, which is an opaque substance becomes transparent.
2. Platinum, which is an inert material becomes a catalyst.

3. Aluminum, which is stable material becomes more combustible.
4. Gold, which is solid at room temperature, turns into liquid.

5. Silicon, which is an insulator, turns into a conductor.
6. At the surface level, silk feels very soft and delicate. But at nano-
level, it’s made up of molecules aligned in cross-links. This makes silk
very strong. Now, this information is used to create different type of
fabric like Kevlar.

Kevlar is woven into textile materials. It is extremely strong and
lightweight, with resistance toward corrosion and heat. It is used in
vast applications such as aerospace engineering (body of
the aircraft), body armor, bulletproof vests, car brakes, and boats.

Some of the most commonly used nanoparticles are derived from silver, titanium
dioxide, silica, clay, gold, copper, and zinc.

Apart from that we have used graphene and carbon nanotube for various


Advantages of Nanotechnology:

a) Enhanced Performance: Nanostructured materials and devices can
exhibit superior performance compared to their bulk counterparts, enabling
advancements in electronics, energy storage, and medical diagnostics.

b) Environmental Benefits: Nano Technology offers the potential to develop
sustainable and eco-friendly solutions by reducing energy consumption,
improving resource efficiency and enabling pollution remediation.

c) Medical Breakthroughs: Nano Technology holds promise in
revolutionizing healthcare through targeted drug delivery systems,
advanced imaging techniques, and regenerative medicine, leading to
improved treatments and enhanced quality of life.

Nanotechnology applications:

1. Sunscreen: Nano-sized particles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in
sunscreen products provide transparent and effective UV protection,
revolutionizing sun protection methods.

2. Water Purification: Nano Technology-based filters and membranes
can remove contaminants and bacteria from water, providing access
to clean drinking water in remote areas or during emergencies.
Nano-iron has been used to treat water, breaking down organic
pollutants and killing microbial pathogens during decontamination.

3. Wearable Electronics: Nanostructured materials enable flexible and
lightweight electronics that can be integrated into clothing, facilitating
the development of smart textiles for healthcare monitoring or
performance tracking.

4. One very good example of nanomaterial is Graphene. It’s the world’s
thinnest, strongest, and electrical & thermal conducive material. It has
very high surface area to mass ratio.
Each gram of graphene has surface area of around 2600 square meters.
Put it the other way, 2 gram of graphene will have surface area equivalent of on
cricket stadium.
Now, graphene can be added to metal, plastic or any other material to
make them stronger, lighter and durable.
Based on its high electron mobility and conductivity, it can be a good
source for energy storage.

5. Textile: A nanoparticles of silica can help to create fabrics that repel
water and other liquids. That’s why today we have clothes, which don’t
get wet as silica nanoparticles help clothes not to absorb water. Stainproof
and waterproof cloths.

5. Furniture:

With nanoparticles, furniture can be made, waterproof, stain proof as well
as less inflammable. The foam used in upholstered furniture can be coated
with carbon nanofibers. This helps in reducing the flammability by 20-40

6. Like this, nanoparticles are used to make better adhesive (which
become stronger and provide better stickiness), paint (which doesn’t
get dirty even with uric acid or dust), sports (to make lighter,
stronger and better tennis racquet, swimming wearables..)

7. This is getting used in food and packaging industry.
8. In some cases, nanoparticles are used to provide non-stick
nanocoating. Lot of thick liquid food, which is stored in bottles get
wasted. Think of tomato ketchup. With nanocoating, there will not be any
ketchup left behind in the bottle.

9. Nano sensors: Now, we can create tiny sensors, that can measure
physical, chemical or biological information and transfer that data for
various analysis. This has great potential in healthcare, overall
security (to detect, measure and respond to various signals) and in
environmental monitoring.

10. Energy Sector: This technology is used in the energy sector to
a. More efficient solar cells, which can convert sunlight into
electricity more efficiently.
b. Better batteries, which have improved energy density and
better charge & discharge efficiency.
c. Energy-Efficient Materials: New material, (nanocomposites), are
getting developed, which can be used in insulation, window
coatings, and other energy-saving applications.

Other Technologies related to Nanotechnology:

Nano Technology intersects with several other cutting-edge technologies,
such as biotechnology, materials science, quantum computing, and artificial
intelligence. Understanding these fields enhances the exploration and
potential applications of Nanotechnology.

Disadvantages of Nanotechnology:

We still need to firmly establish the impact of nanoparticles on the human body
and environment.
As we are now changing the behavior of some of the existing material ( by
mixing nanoparticles with it), we need to establish long term impact of that.
Our human genes may not have developed appropriate immunity for these
‘new’ materials.
Also, while Nano Technology encompasses a wide range of materials and
devices at the nanoscale, it does not include fields like macroscopic
engineering, traditional manufacturing, or larger-scale industrial processes.

When Not to Use Nanotechnology:

Nano Technology may not be suitable when the costs outweigh the benefits
or when alternative solutions can achieve comparable results more
efficiently. In cases where the risks associated with nanomaterials or
manufacturing processes outweigh the advantages, alternative approaches
may be preferable.

Companies Using Nanotechnology:

a) IBM: IBM leverages Nano Technology in the development of nanoscale
transistors and chip components, pushing the boundaries of computing
power and miniaturization.

b) Tesla: Tesla incorporates Nano Technology in its batteries and energy
storage systems, optimizing energy density and improving overall

c) 3M: 3M utilizes Nano Technology in a wide range of products, including
advanced adhesives, dental materials, and abrasives, enhancing
functionality and performance.

Other Industries Using Nanotechnology:

a) Healthcare and Medicine: Nano Technology enables advancements in
drug delivery, medical imaging, diagnostics, and tissue engineering, leading
to personalized medicine and improved patient care.

b) Electronics and Computing: Nanostructured materials and nanoscale
devices drive advancements in miniaturization, faster computing, high-
density data storage, and flexible electronics.

c) Energy and Environment: Nano Technology contributes to the
development of efficient solar cells, energy storage systems, catalysis, and
environmental sensors, promoting sustainable energy generation and
environmental conservation.

Industries with Potential for Nanotechnology Adoption:

Industries such as automotive, aerospace, construction, and consumer
goods can further benefit from Nanotechnology. Applications include
lightweight materials for vehicles, self-cleaning coatings, enhanced building
materials, and high-performance sports equipment.

Future of Nanotechnology:

Nanotechnology holds immense potential for future innovations, including
advancements in nanomedicine, nanoelectronics, nanorobotics, and
nanosensors. It may pave the way for revolutionary breakthroughs in fields
such as quantum computing, personalized healthcare, and sustainable
energy solutions.


Nanotechnology opens a gateway to a world of infinite possibilities, where
we can engineer matter at the smallest scale to create materials and
devices with extraordinary properties.
As Nanotechnology continues to advance, it will revolutionize industries,
enable groundbreaking scientific discoveries, and address global
challenges in innovative ways.

Embracing the microscopic wonders of Nanotechnology, we embark on a
remarkable journey of scientific exploration and technological marvels,
reshaping the world around us and unlocking a future limited only by our

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