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> Nanotech: The future Issue: 2014-2 Section: 17-19

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Introduction

In this presentation we talk about our research, concerning the future of nanotechnology. Applications of nanostructures and nanomaterials in our everyday life.

Let’s imagine that one day we will be able to fly without having wings or any particular engine, maybe that day we will be able to get on the Moon just by taking the space elevator.

Let’s just imagine that our body will be able to take care of itself, from the usual, common and well known cold to the rarest, most complicated and feared diseases such as cancer without the help of drugs and doctors. All this will be possible by using the nanites and nanomaterials. Imagine that everything will be different than now.

 

Tools

We have worked consulting many web pages and books or articles having limited access to Science Direct thanks to the collaboration with the Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Environment Protection of “Gh. Asachi” Technical University from Iasi; in Italy we also had the opportunity to contact the Dept. of Chemical Sciences of the University of Catania where we met some researchers that showed us how they work, the instruments they use for their research and various experiments.

 

What is Nanotechnology

In 1965, Richard Feynman, receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics for his fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, had a brilliant idea that led to a new age in the world of physics. He pronounced a phrase that described perfectly the way how scientists were looking around them, stopping them to a macroscopic level.

In his opinion “There is plenty of room at the bottom”; in fact, he was speaking about nanomaterials in a very imaginative way. Because of his idea, nowadays there are a lot of scientists working on this topic, planning the future of sciences which will affect our lifestyle in an unrecognizable way.

We must say that a nanometer represents the billionth part of a meter (10-9), everything reduced at nanoscale changes its properties: changement in color and melting point. There are three main kinds of nanostructures: Nanoparticles (0D), Nanotubes (1D) and Multilayers (2D). So, for their properties these nanostructures are involved in lots of researches in each area.

Nanotechnology will be available to a wide range of industries and it really there are no limits to what it is capable of. For this reason scientists are trying to find new applications for nano-materials. That’s why the use of nanomaterials can be unlimited.

Nanotechnology in Medicine

Bioengineer Professor Todd Coleman and engineer Professor John A. Rogers carried out a research that revealed an application for particular nanochips EES (epidermal electronic system) that could be able to monitor the vital signs of our body directly on our phone or send them to a doctor who is thousands of miles away. Nanites will be able to address whether there are any broken bones, torn muscle tissue, irregularities, monitoring metabolism or cholesterol levels, making sure that the organs are working properly, and any other type of requirement for a healthy body.

Long-circulating polymeric nanotherapeutics have acquired increasing interest in research and clinic owing to their capability to improve the solubility and pharmacokinetics of therapeutic cargoes. Modulation of carrier properties promises more effective drug localization at the disease sites and can lead to enhanced drug safety and efficacy.

In the future, we will be able to heal our wounds a lot faster thanks to new nanotechnological delivery systems that will be sown into bandages and will contain a drug called aluminosilicate, which promotes fast regeneration capabilities and will allow wounds to heal faster. In order to heal broken bones, companies are developing nanotubes to provide bones a proper structure so that they can grow back as they are supposed to. Coupled with other medicines, we may one day even be able to grow entire bones back in a very short period of time. Nanotechnology will greatly speed up the process of creating vaccines because, being so tiny, it could be possible to load thousands of nanites with thousands of different vaccines and inject them into the host all at once and see if any of them work. If it works, we could then narrow down our results by trying the same experiment on a new subject and only using half of the original vaccines. If it still works, then you can keep narrowing it down; if it does not work, then you know that the vaccine you want is in the second experiment and you could then use the same process to narrow down those vaccines instead.

All the studies concerning nanomedicine have slowed down. This has happened because all new nanomaterials have to be tested on our body, to prevent any negative effect, before being launched in the market.

 

Nanotechnology in crime prevention

In the near future we might have access to some particular devices that could help us prevent crimes. For example, some nano-trackers could be injected to prisoners in case they try to escape. These nano-trackers could also be used to mark store items and track them in case of stealing. Currently bar codes are black bars of different widths but in the future we might have new ones that will be a fraction of a nanometer in size and contain a new array of unique colors; this will help us fight counterfeiters. As for surveillance, one day there will be smaller and smaller security cameras (nanocams) we will not be aware of.

 

Nanotechnology in weapons

With the new nanites, the human kind will be able to create new weapons with unbelievable properties: for example nanites will not only be able to crack into the computers but also in the human body and this new technology could be used to read someone’s thoughts and manipulate the information they have access to.

A new way of designing and using nanotubes has been discovered. At the moment, we only have heavy protection that our security personnel wear; but in the future there could be another type of body-protection that is based on nanotubes, which are tiny, crystalline structures made on a nanoscale which in fact is a hundred times stronger and 6 times lighter than steel. That will lead us to a higher protection level meanwhile working at the best possible way.

Nanotechnology will definitely be used in warfare; sadly we won’t be able to keep track of nanites possessors in case someone does something bad with its power. On the bright side they might be used in nuclear facilities to aid humans with radiation problems, but since there is always a darker side too, some people could use it to create nuclear mass destruction weapons.

 

Nanotechnology in clothes

Someday, tying the fabrics together at a nanoscale, we will be able to create new clothes that will be stain, water and fire proof. When you get to nano-scale, physics will get to the next level in the way that liquids will be too large to get through.

 

Nanotechnology and energy

As the trees and flowers from our planet can grab atoms from soil air and water, rearrange their position in such manner that they create something new including oxygen, someday nano-factories will be able to take atoms from inexpensive materials that are already present into the atmosphere, such as dirt, air and seawater to create clothes, food and medicine.

Yi Cui, an engineer at Stanford University, leads a research team about how materials can store and conduct electricity; this new kind of material can store up to ten times more energy than a common battery. So far, they have come to a point in which they can make a material that is capable of conducting electricity as light as paper. The technique used is called e-Textile and basically it uses a compound in addition with a porous textile material to create new materials that can be used from daily use articles to luxury ones such as casual clothing to formal suits. This technique is still in its infancy state, but the gamma-range surprises us day-by-day with its potential. For example, one day we will be able to recharge our mobile phones or our portable computers by simply putting them into our pockets. Another positive aspect of this invention could be saving all the materials needed to create classic type of lithium batteries.

 

Nanotechnology in oil industry

Nanotechnologies will be able to help human work in oil industry.

Particular nanostructures have been discovered, called nanocoatings, that have strange properties, that of facilitating oil extraction. Let’s see the different applications for nanocoatings:

  • Anti-wear for drilling parts will increase the durability in moving parts just spraying it on them;
  • Nanovar provides strength, hardness, and thermal resistance which are three requirements needed in oil drilling in the future to reach reserves;
  • Anti-corrosion coatings will allow an object to resist corrosion from air or even from water.

We know that often when oil companies extract oil from the ground or underwater, they must deal with gases, metals, water, and many other types of invasive substances present in the oil. Because of this, the oil industry has had to come up with a variety of methods to clean out all of the excess materials that they do not want in order to get pure oil. Nanotechnologies will facilitate all the process of filtration.

To increase knowledge about oil wells in an attempt to recover more oil from wells, Rice University is working on “nanoreporters”. These nanostructures are made up of hundreds of millions of carbon clusters. Each reporter is approximately 30,000 times smaller than a human hair. These “reporters” are designed to change their molecular makeup depending on what they encounter – water, petroleum, hydrogen sulfide, etc.; they are also given tags, similar to barcodes, which can tell scientists how long they have been underground. Lastly, they are being designed to be able to report properties about the material they are currently near to, with the ability to report temperature and pressure; they can relay valuable information to scientists. With a better idea of the physical properties of an oil reservoir, operators will have a much easier time finding and recovering oil.

 

Nanotechnology in sport equipment

Nanotechnology could also be used in sport. It has created light weight and much stronger materials in many different sports including golf, football, swimming, etc. obtaining the hoped success. A company called Nanodynamics is working on the improvement of the golf ball with nanotech by enhancing energy transfer between the club head and the ball. They are also changing the weight of the ball by making it hollow so that it has less spin, resulting in straighter drives

 

Conclusion

In our opinion, nanotechnology will revolutionize many different scientific fields, improve out healthcare products and, who knows, maybe our longevity. It will probably assist us in making our everyday work easier. It will also help human beings to let their dreams and ideals become true such as conquering the vast, dark and unknown universe. On the other hand, despite its use for good, someone may manipulate its power and use it to harm others. However, since we are in the second decade of the 21st Century, we should put aside the problems we are not able to foresee and move out of the dark ages of the last century. We should assume the risks and move forward, because we might someday bring the humanity to its brightest and highest potential in terms of technology and life-care. By looking back in time, we can see that there cannot be any revolution without risks, as someone wise said “no pain, no gain”.

 

Bibliography

  • Hu CM, Fang RH, Luk BT, Zhang L., Polymeric nanotherapeutics: clinical development and advances in stealth functionalization strategies”; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24280870; Department of NanoEngineering and Moores Cancer Center, University of California, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92093, USA. ; Last update: 7 Jan 2014
  • Breakthrough: Electronic circuits that are integrated with your skin; Robert T. Gonzalez http://io9.com/5830071/breakthrough-electronic-circuits-that-are-integrated-into-your-skin; Last update: 8/11/2011; Editor-in-Chief: Annalee Newitz
  • Joshua Moreno, Scott Marwil, Danielle Miller; Nanotechnology in the Oil and Gas Industry; The American oil and gas reporter www.aogr.com/index.php
  • Future Nanotechnology http://www.futurenanotechnology.net/
  • ”Richard P. Feynman - Facts”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 24 Sep 2014. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1965/

 

Iconography

  • “Richard P. Feynman - Facts”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 24 Sep 2014. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1965/feynman_postcard.jpg
  • New Generation Hobbies, Woodbridge, Ontario L4L 9A8, Canada http://www.nghobbies.com/cart/images/products/NANOCAM_1.JPG
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  • Anderson Leocadio da Nova & Caio Pissolato www.spe.uff.br/sites/default/files/imgs/pic5.png
  • http://www.hse.gov.uk/nanotechnology/images/nanotechnology.jpg
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