Understanding the Potential and role of IoNT in Digital Future
The IoT market witness a strong upswing in recent years, particularly during the pandemic. According to Gartner, the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices is projected to increase to 43 billion by 2023, which is an almost threefold increase from 2018. With technologies that underpin innovations in IoT, adoption in the SMEs, and expanding use cases of IoT devices, the momentum in its market growth is unlikely to stop anytime soon. Now, powered by offerings of nanotechnology, IoT is poised to scale new heights.
Nanotechnology refers to the means of controlling matter on a tiny scale, at the atomic and molecular level, to manipulate other materials at a nano-level (1000 times smaller than micro) to create super-strong, state-of-the-art materials. Today, enterprises are looking to unlock nanotechnology’s potential as its significant benefits create unprecedented business and technical innovation opportunities. Earlier, nano participles have been used in sunscreens, paint coatings, waterproof fabric, high-efficiency computer sensors, furniture, adhesives, and more. We have also leveraged this tech to make high-power rechargeable battery systems, thermoelectric materials for temperature control, and tires with lower rolling resistance, cellulosic nano fuel, and nanoparticle-based fluorescence labeling, thin-film smart solar panels, and fuel additives for cleaner exhaust and extended range.
When coupled with IoT, nanotechnology helps in ushering the Internet of Nano Things or IoNT. Georgia Tech researchers, Ian Akyildiz and Josep Jornet, conceived the concept of IoNT in their paper, visualizing the “Internet of Nano-Things,” or IoNT. IoNT uses two broad areas of communication viz., Electromagnetic Nano-Communication and Molecular Communication. As IoNT is set to become a reality in coming years, industries across all verticals will benefit tremendously.
For instance, the University of Cambridge has developed a nanotechnology application called “stretchable gold,” which can bend and allow for multiple IoT applications in the mobile phone space, as well as in the retail and healthcare sectors. Aiming to create electronic devices that can be rolled, flexed, deformed and even stretch like a rubber band, the researchers used rubber such as silicone coated with a very thin layer of gold. The gold serves as a stretchable conductor and can be elongated to twice its original length without electrical failure.
IoNT is basically about embedding IoT systems with nano-sensors, nano-actuators, nano-devices, nano-machines, and other nano-components as part of a nano-system architecture for commercial solutions, services, and applications. Such integrations signal, contemporary approaches to build IoT solutions for the digital age. For instance, using graphene in sensor chips can provide a high surface area that enables chip to detect changes in an environment. Moreover, such nanoparticles will enhance battery life. It will also empower chip makers to continue the miniaturization of the microchips with higher performance capabilities and relatively cheaper costs.
Similarly, IoNT has also led to the deployment of nano network, comprising nano nodes, nano-routers, nano-micro interface devices, and gateways. This nano network helps in facilitating the transfer of information. Nano nodes are the simplest and smallest component within the IoNT setup and can be considered a basic nano-machine. These small nano-machines are used to transmit data and perform basic computations. Nano-nodes will transfer data to the nano-router that acts as an aggregator for all the surrounding nano nodes that obtain the initial data. From here, data is relayed to nano-micro interface devices via nano-communication techniques and classical network protocols. The gateway controls the nano network and enables the data to be accessed anywhere via the internet.
Apart from these, IoNT will also enable the development of several precision farming applications and with the live implementation of Nano-Sensor-based monitoring. The nano-sensor monitoring will also find scope in healthcare, traffic monitoring and more.
It is important to remember that IoNT is an extension of IoT and not its replacement. Also, the enhancement and wide range adoption of IoNT depends on processing capabilities, large storage at low costs, smart antennas and Smart RFID tag technology.