Modern science and technology have presented us with many facets for studying, observational discoveries and innovations. Among the most advanced fields of science and technology is Nanotechnology. Its wide-ranging potential has been igniting debate and discussion all over the world. Government bodies and private research firms are ready to invest more financially as any significant development in this field could become the next breakthrough in the field of science and technology. Plus it brings an industrial revolution too.
In 1959 the American Nobel prize and physicist Sir Richard Feynman was the first to speak about the applications of nanotechnology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In this field, researchers manipulate the molecular structure of materials to change their intrinsic properties and obtain others with revolutionary applications. This tech is categorized based on how they proceed, i.e. top-down or bottom-up and the medium in which they work, i.e. dry or wet. Meanwhile, for investors who are starting to look at nanotechnology stocks, it can be challenging to know where to begin, as nanotechnology applications are so varied.
These applications include making wrinkle-resistant fabric, lightweight and durable particles like graphene, nanocoatings, nanoplasmonics and more. According to the Global Nanotechnology Market (by Component and Applications) report by Research & Markets, the global nanotech industry is forecast to grow annually by 17 percent up to 2024. The countries that shall be global leaders in this tech are the United States, Brazil and Germany. And the market value will exceed 125,000 million dollars at the same time. Below we have described a few examples of the rapidly growing list of the applications of nanotechnology.
Energy: One can reduce costs, produce more durable and lighter wind turbines, augment fuel efficiency and, provide thermal insulation of some nano-components using nanotech. This can save energy and conserve fossil fuels, thereby minimizing pollution.
- It improves the efficiency of fuel production from raw petroleum materials through better catalysis. It enables reduced fuel consumption in vehicles and power plants through higher-efficiency combustion and decreased friction.
- By the use of nanotechnology-enabled gas lift valves in offshore operations fractures in down-well oil, pipelines are also being discovered.
- Designing batteries that are quicker-charging, more efficient, lighter weight, have a higher power density and hold electrical charge longer.
- A semiconductor developed by Kyoto University makes it possible to manufacture solar panels that double the amount of sunlight converted into electricity.
- It is also being considered for the generation of heat from other sources. Under this, thin-film solar electric panels that can be fitted into computer cases for harvesting energy on the go or flexible piezoelectric nanowires that can be woven into clothes for generating usable energy on the go from body heat are being developed.
- Nano bioengineering could also enable conversion of cellulose to ethanol for fuel.
Healthcare And Medicine: Nanotech proves new fields of exploration in drug discovery and health diagnosis and treatment that were not possible hitherto. In case of nano-medicine, the objective is to monitor and improve the humans’ biological systems from the molecular level. The advantages of this emerging application are early and better detection of diseases, lower costs of medication, lesser side effects and instances to operate patients.
- Advanced solid-state nano-materials could allow the development of novel gene sequencing technologies that make single-molecule detection at low cost and high speed possible.
- Researchers are working on making the direct delivery of medications to cancer cells possible using nanoparticles with minimum risk of damage to healthy tissues. This can dramatically alter cancer treatment and reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy—E.g. Paclitaxel to fight breast and pancreatic cancer cells.
- In the pharmaceuticals sector, work is going on to create regenerative medicines and compounds with targeted drug delivery. E.g. AtorastatinLiptoris used for the purpose of lowering cholesterol, as well as with insulin for type II diabetes.
- It has proved effective in terms of gene therapy.
- Nanotechnology has major applications in imaging and diagnosis. Research has shown that NP based fluorescence labelling is better than conventional fluorophores.
- Nano-medicine researchers are looking at ways that nanotechnology can improve vaccines, including vaccine delivery without the use of needles.
Transportation: Nanotech offers the promise of developing multifunctional materials with features to build lighter, safer, smarter, and more efficient vehicles, aircraft, spacecraft, and ships. Further, nanotech offers various means to improve transportation infrastructure and maintenance.
- Nanoscale sensors and devices may provide cost-effective continuous monitoring of the structural integrity and performance of bridges, tunnels, rails, parking structures, and pavements over time.
- Some nano-engineered particles have the capacity to enhance automotive performance. These include high power battery systems to nano-engineered structural parts and thermoelectric temperature control materials to lower rolling resistance tyres; there are several areas where nanotechnology improves the performance of automobiles.
- When constructing roads using cement, the nanotech can address issues likepoor crack resistance, long curing time, low tensile strength, high water absorption, low ductility and many other mechanical performances.
- In aerospace and automobile sector, nanocoatings can provide corrosion protection, water and ice protection, friction reduction, antifouling and antibacterial properties, self-cleaning, heat and radiation resistance, and thermal management.