The Uses of Nanotechnology

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Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology may become the most influential force in the world since the emergence of the World Wide Web. It may end world hunger, increase the speed of memory chips, modify the human body or become a devastating weapon. This guide explores what nanotechnology is, how researchers are hoping to use it and what the critics are saying about the consequences of using this potentially world-changing technology.

The Uses of Nanotechnology

For something so small, the implications and breadth of the uses of nanotechnology are vast, ranging from curing cancer to feeding the Earth. It may be thought of as truly harnessing the atom for the better, though some debate that.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • Nanotechnology has a number of interesting potential applications in areas such as:
  • Medicine: Things behave differently at the nanoscale. An excellent example is the fact that gold (which looks yellow at our “normal” scale) actually reflects red light at the nanoscale. This has resulted in the design of experimental systems that kill cancerous cells with normal visible light, but leave normal cells unharmed. Also, body tissue can be reproduced or repaired using nanotechnology, which could eventually develop into treatments to replace or repair organs.
  • Energy: Nanotechnology could be harnessed to consume extremely low amounts of energy, making it a vital alternative to current methods of supplying power.
  • Textiles: Nanotech is already at use in consumer products ranging from stain-resistant and anti-wrinkle textiles in clothing, to cosmetics. If keeping clothes clean isn’t enough, ‘smart clothing’ could monitor your heart rate and other vital signs.
  • Filtration: The relationship between the volume and surface area of some particles can change at nanoscales in such a manner that they can end up with more ‘outside’ than ‘inside’. (If you’re a “Dr. Who” fan, think of it as the opposite of a TARDIS.) The advantage is that the more surface you have, the more reactions you can have on that surface. This can allow new kinds of filtering, such as water for drinking or light for solar energy.

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