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> Nanotechnology: Advantages and disadvantages Issue: 2014-1 Section: 14-16

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Nanotechnology is a revolutionary scientific field, specialized in the manipulation of matter. This science should not be underestimated, because every time a new technolo-gy is developed society, as we know it, could change. By developing this branch of science, our lives could get better or even worse; it depends on how we use it. Nanotechnology is a wager and the consequences that it could bring to humanity are often unpredictable. The aim of this research is to analyse each field of nanotechnology and, if there are any, spot the advantages and disadvantages. Our analysis is meant to warn from any possible risk deri-ving from this kind of technology and to inform about their useful applications.



One of the most important things to know about nanotechnologies is that it is possible to create more efficient materials with very useful characteristics. The main properties of nanomaterials are:

  • strength;
  • lightness;
  • ductility;
  • extreme small size (109 m);
  • Thermal and electrical conductibility;
  • Water repellency

Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes are both nanostructures based on carbon, they are very thin (just a few atoms’ width) but still very strong, (about 200 times stronger than steel). With these new materials each field of industries will be revolutionized. There are some problems with the implementation of these technologies in manufacturing processes. Producing nanostructures is very expensive and also very difficult. Thus, nanomaterials are not going to be in our lives very soon, unless they become cheaper.



Nowadays’ society is becoming more and more dependent on energy of all kinds although it is increasingly difficult to obtain it. There certainly are alternatives through which nanotechnology could create more efficient and cheaper energy:

For instance, fuel cells could be potentiated to produce more energy from hydrogen, making them a valid alternative:

  • solar cells could become smaller and more efficient.
  • quantum solar dots, for example, are a new kind of solar cells that in the next future will be cheaper. They are flexible and have a 65% efficiency (while common solar cells have from 13% to 20% efficiency).



Nanotechnology has also a big influence on medicine.

There are a lot of possible enhancements in nearly all fields of medicine:

  • diagnosis;
  • drug delivery system;
  • therapies.

With nanotechnology it will be possible:

  • to manipulate damaged DNA and cure genetic diseases;
  • to have nanorobots travelling inside our body that diagnose any type of disease and to have nanostars that deliver the drug in the affected area once the disease is identified;
  • to have nanofibers that can be used in wound dressings and surgical textiles.

However, even here there are some drawbacks. Using nanotechnologies for health care could be dangerous, because there is not enough information about the consequences that these could have on the human body. Nanotechnology exploits fibers and particles which may remain floating in the air and in that case they could be very damaging. It is well known that it is very dangerous to inhale nanoparticles, but there is not enough information about their ingestion.

Food industries are using nanotechnology more and more to improve the nutrients in their products. This more frequent use could be dangerous, because nanoparticles could react with elements that are already in the human body and generate toxins.



This is a very serious issue that could have important impacts in our society and political system. People should think about the effects that this kind of technology could have on the military field:

  • better weapons;
  • better vehicles;
  • better robots and drones;
  • high-tech battle suits (bullet-proof, capable of monitoring health and communicating and receiving info);
  • micro-fusion nuclear weapons;
  • new chemical agents carried by nanoparticles;
  • new security systems: smaller and more efficient;
  • self-replicant biological agents.

It may soon be possible in the future to improve camouflage in a way no one would ever have imagined in the past. Scientists are studying a structure capable of diverting microwaves and in the future it will even be possible to divert light, making objects invisible.

Developing this kind of technologies could be risky: having better weapons means more destruction and more destruction means tougher wars. The consequences could be massive. Biological weapons could be enormously enhanced, and so could the atomic ones. Since the number of nations that implement nanotechnology in the armies is increasing, its use must be regulated. Nowadays, there is no international treaty that regulates the use of nanotechnology in weapons.



Today, we look at the environment, trying to respect it and take care of it; still, our impact on it is very strong. We can use nanotechnology in many ways to protect the environment, for instance:

  • better catalysts that produce less pollution can be built;
  • oil spills can be removed.

Unfortunately, we do not know how nanoparticles coming from other sectors, like industry, would affect the environment.



Our future depends on the way these technologies are implemented; that is why people should act responsibly when using them. In order to improve the possible advantages, governments need to invest more on research. Disadvanteges can be avoided by creating rules about the use of nanotechnology and every nation or company should use them responsibly and with the respect of the environment and people’s health.

In the end, we can surely maintain that nanotechnology is neither good nor bad in itself but, if correctly exploited, it can definitely improve the life quality of the future generations.



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  • Alastair Hazell,, Catharine Paddock, Nanotechnology In Medicine: Huge Potential, But What Are The Risks?, MediLexicon International Ltd , Bexhill-on-Sea, UK,4 May 2012 at 11 am
  •, Angela Jones, Jeanne Nye and Andrew Greenberg, Nanotechnology in the Military, University of Wisconsin System, Madison, Wisconsin, US, last update in 2014
  • Thomas A. Faunce, Hitoshi Nasu,, Nanotechnology and the International Law of Weaponry: Towards International Regulation of Nano-Weapons-2009/2010, bepress, Berkeley Ka (US)