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An Overview of Nanotechnology

BY: Haripriya Munipalli | Category: Others | Submitted: 2013-08-13 05:13:43
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Article Summary: "Nanotechnology is the engineering of tiny equipment and the ability to build items from their fundamental state..."

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The functional systems are engineered at the molecular level in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology involves creation of things from the fundamental state with the atomic precision in the traditional sense. In another sense, nanotechnology is construction of items from the bottom level using advanced tools and techniques to manufacture high performance products. The word nanotechnology was famous because of K. Eric Drexler. Drexler was referring to the building of machines on the molecular scale or nanometer scale like motors, computers and robots that are smaller than a single cell.

Nanotechnology is a branch of science which deals with the matter in its molecular and atomic level. The matter can be modified or changed at the nano scale level. The nano scale cannot be visualized even under the light microscope. A nanometer measures around one-billionth of a meter which represents the size that is smaller than that of an atom. Though the size of an atom cannot be determined specifically, a typical atom is said to have a diameter of one-tenth of a nanometer. Nano scale is the measure of the size of molecules. The manipulation made at the molecular level can create all kinds of interesting materials. Understanding the matter at a very small scale and controlling it to the dimensions in the range of 1 to 100 nanometers constitute nanotechnology. The nano scale based dealings of the matter forms the nano-structure, which is found to have special properties due to its nano scale proportions. But, materials in small scale are not found to be having the same characteristics as they have, in large scale.

For example, gold shines differently in nano scale than in the bulk scale. The temperature and magnetism properties are also found to be different for the various materials when they are at nano scale. The nanotechnology concentrates on the basic building blocks of matter. For example, the nano-particles of zinc-oxide can be used as sun block in the form of transparent lotion spread on the skin and to protect the skin. It was reported that physicians are trying to take out the protein parts of the viruses and use them as small drugs to treat cancer. As scientists slowly learn to manipulate the molecules and change them in their functionality, the world gradually changes. The secrets behind many big things will be revealed by just the smallest things.

As nanotechnology talks about the manipulation of matter at atomic and molecular scale, quantum mechanics become very important in dealing with the matter in such a small scale. Application of nanotechnology involves preparation of materials or devices that are within 100 nm size. Making items in small scale and small size is expected to give complete and high performance products. It was also observed that the characteristics of its physical phenomenon are also becoming prominent and significant as the product's size decreases. For example, in the case of statistical mechanical effect and quantum mechanical effect, the properties of solids are observed to change with the alteration in particle size.

Molecular nanotechnology is concerned with using engineered nano systems which will operate at nano scale or molecular scale. Molecular nanotechnology is similar to molecular assemblers which resemble the ribosomes. Ribosomes are cell organelles which assemble the amino acids on the mRNA. In the same way, future nanotechnology also visualizes in bringing the molecular machines. Research studies have been conducted in Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories on non-biological molecular machines and they have constructed devices of that kind. The devices were operated from the computer desktop with changing voltage. The devices were nano motor, molecular actuator and mechanical relaxation oscillator.

Few applications of nanotechnology include carbon allotropes used in gecko tape, zinc oxide in sunscreens, silver used in food packaging, Surface coatings, Paints, outdoor furniture varnishes and cerium oxide as fuel catalyst.

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