16 April, 2012

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Nanotechnology

Carbon nanotubes, by Mstroeck. CC-BY-SA-3.0. SOURCE.
Nanotechnology is the science of building objects the size of atoms and molecules, from 1-100 nanometers.

A nanometer (nm) is a billionth of a meter (10 to the power of -9) or about the length of six carbon atoms; for further comparison, the size of a red blood cell is around 7,000 nm. The word "nano" comes from the Greek word for dwarf. Richard Feynman (who won the Nobel Prize for Physics) was the first to lecture on nanotechnology in 1959, though the phrase itself was coined in 1974 by Norio Taniquichi.

Matter at the nanoscale displays unique physical, chemical, and biological traits, and nanotechnology can create materials that are stronger, more conductive, more chemically reactive, reflect more light, and have different magnetic properties. These changes are called quantum effects, and happen only at the nanoscale.

Nanotechnology has applications in a wide range of fields, such as medicine, computing, information and communications technology, the aerospace industry, materials synthesis, and imaging and printing. It has been used in sunscreens, cosmetics, clothes, eyeglasses, Tupperware products, computers, baseball bats and tennis rackets, automobiles, and batteries, to name a few. Future uses may include the engineering of building materials, drugs, artificial tissues, food, solar panels, improvement of water and air quality, and there are even experiments being done to see if an invisibility cloak could be made with nanoparticles.

Multi-nanotube, by TED-43. CC-BY-SA-3.0. SOURCE.
It has been predicted that by 2014, $2.5 trillion worth of goods will have some form of nanotechnology, or around 15% of all global output. There is a more negative side to nanotechnology, however, since it could have negative effects on living things (humans included) and create new nano pollutants, in addition to other other unforseen dangers.

Notable Nanotechnologist:

Naomi Halas

Naomi Halas is the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, a Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, and the Director of the Laboratory for Nanophotonics (which she founded) at Rice University. She has over 15 issued and pending patents and is the co-founder of Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc., a company developing photothermal cancer therapy. She is a Fellow of the Optical Society, the American Physical Society, the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Her research group focuses on metallic nanoparticles and nanostructures and their optical characteristics, including light absorption and scattering and plasmon-plasmon interactions (a plasmon is the oscillation of free electrons). Projects involve diagnostic and therapeutic nanoparticles and their potential uses in cancer therapy and imaging, and light-triggered gene therapy (nanoparticles are deposited in cells, and light causes them to release DNA).


Watch Profile: Naomi Halas on PBS. See more from NOVA scienceNOW.




Do you worry about the potential issues that nanotechnology could bring with it? Or do you think humanity's engineering at the nanoscale is more on the positive side? Or (as with so many fields these days) both?

-----The Golden Eagle


Shelly said...

I pretty much follow conspiracy theories. Need I say too much more.

Anonymous said...

Nanotechnology still blows my mind. I remember hearing about it on Star Trek: The Next Generation and have been fascinated by it ever since. I still am puzzle of the tools by which the technology is created. Great post!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Popular topic today! 15%? That's a lot.

Old Kitty said...

Oh no!! I can't watch the clip cos I'm not in the US and I love nanotechnology! Well I don't understand it but I always think they mean little tiny tiny tiny tiny creatures! LOL! Take care

Talli Roland said...

Wow! What an interesting post. And it's nice to see a woman playing a prominent role in science.

Susan Roebuck said...

I think it'll play a big part in medical advances (I hope so anyway). Perhaps in managing to pin a tiny killer cell to a cancer cell - that'd be good!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Where to begin with nanotechnology. I use it in my books and have another in the works that really takes off on this topic.

L.G.Smith said...

This stuff just blows my mind. It's amazing what they are doing. Impressive!

Mina Burrows said...

Love this topic. Nanotechnology is so fascinating. But then again, I like science too. Great post. :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Good choice. The story potential of this technology is awesome. It's fun to see all the various ways authors can go with it. And since developers can often go even different paths, things could get very, very interesting in the future.

J.W. Alden said...

Great minds think alike! My "N" post is also on nanotech, but my theme is speculative fiction tropes, so it's about the use of nanotechnology in sci-fi.

It's a field that's always fascinated me, and it's been crazy to watch fiction become a reality. The present and future applications of nanotech are mind blowing! Great post!

J.W. Alden

Pat Hatt said...

Scares me, the crap they could do with them without you knowing. They could go into your body and do whatever and you'd have no idea. Plus if the nanites decide to have a mind of their own, we're screwed.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Nano pollution sounds scary, but is probably inevitable. new follower via A-Z
- Maurice Mitchell
The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
@thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

Nate Wilson said...

Yes, nanotechnology has many far-reaching applications, but so far I believe the biggest strides have come in one field: science fiction. In that area, at least, I have no complaints.

Charlie Holmberg said...

Oh wow. I'm thoroughly impressed at how much detail of this you know. XD

DL Hammons said...

I always thought Nanotechnology was science fiction until I read a couple articles regarding practical applications. Blow your mind stuff! Nano waste worries me though! :)

Kimberlee Turley said...

This reminds me of the metal created by University of California at Irvine, which is so light it can sit on top of a dandelion. (100 times lighter than styrofoam.)

It's not nano-technology, but I'd bet certain elements of nano technology helped them create it.

Jay Noel said...

See Mary Pax's post on nanogenerators?

Just incredible stuff. Nano technology is going to revolutionize all aspects of science - especially interested in seeing how medicine will utilize nanotech.

cleemckenzie said...

Nano anything blows my mind. Two things I didn't know before reading your post: Nano came from the Greek word for dwarf and that there could be nano pollutants with possible harmful effects. I'd love to know more about this.

Anonymous said...

Nanotech is a go. I seriously want some nanobytes in my bloodstream.

Anonymous said...

Also, congrats on the Alex shoutout today.

Morgan said...

As with anything... both... :D

And I love the cancer killing idea...

The Golden Eagle said...

Shelly: Conspiracy theories?

Jack: They mention nanotechnology in TNG? Okay, I really have to watch that series once I'm done with TOS . . .


Alex: It is!

Old Kitty: Drat. I wish they'd let international viewer watch clips from their website. :(

In a way, they do! Nanotechnology can create objects that are a lot like miniature critters.

Talli: Definitely. :) There aren't enough of them, though more women are heading into science these days than before.

Susan: Me, too. Advances in nanotechnology with regard to cancer would probably have a significant effect on people's lives.

Stephen: Thank you. :)

You're writing a book on nanotechnology? Awesome!

L.G.: Yeah, it is. :)

Mina: I love learning about what they're doing with nanotechnology as well.

Thank you!

Donna: Thanks. :)

It will be interesting to see what scientists come up with . . .

J.W.: Indeed they do! I'll be over to check out your nanotechnology post as soon as I can.

Thank you!

Pat: True. I've read more than a couple speculative fiction stories about the dangers of nanotechnology.

Maurice: Yeah. Human inventions tend to have detrimental effects on the environment.

Thank you so much for following!

The Golden Eagle said...

Nate: Me, neither. :)

Charlie: I didn't know most of it when I started researching! It was only through finding other informative sites that I gathered the details.

DL: It worries me, too.

Kimberlee: I agree!

Was it this material?:


Jay: Nope, not yet! Thanks for the heads up on her post. :)


Cleemckenzie: There's plenty more information in the links I put in the Sources section of this post! Much as I wanted to, I couldn't cover everything. ;)

Joshua: I wouldn't mind have nanotechnology in me, either . . . so long as it wasn't, you know, destroying the wrong cells.

Thank you! I was thrilled when I found out he'd listed me on the site.

Morgan: It could definitely affect people's lives in a positive way!

Theresa Milstein said...

How interesting that so much of the economy can rely on such tiny things. I like Susan Roebuck's answer.

Andrew Leon said...

I did nanotech today, too. Now, I'll have to look back through your others to see if we overlapped on other posts.

Carrie Butler said...

You know what else I love about these science posts? The colorful visual aids!

Great post, Eagle. :D

As a Writer... said...

Nano tech is scary and amazing! Interesting post.

Inger said...

Wonderful research as usual. I haven't giving this technology any thought. I knew scientists at Princeton who worked with atoms and I was more informed then than I am now. But you have inspired me to learn more and give this some thought.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Great research on this topic. I've seen it on several other blogs and yours is the first that really goes into depth. You are a science whiz Ms. Eagle.

M Pax said...

Nanotechnology is so fascinating and almost limitless. I tend to make use of it a lot.

Erin M. Hartshorn said...

Light-activated gene therapy -- awesome! I'm also a fan of nanoparticles in clothes to make them more stain resistant (I think these should be used more often in children's clothes, for the record).

Thanks for another great post!


michelle said...

All technological advancement comes with pros and cons...
What is the long term repercussions of nano-technology? That's the million-dollar-question...
And what kind of a "risk" does it pose to the human race? It will probably take decades for scientists to discover...
The flip side of the coin is - it's invaded almost every aspect of life and is here to stay - you can't deny its usefulness...

Carolyn Abiad said...

This is amazing. I was trying to explain carbon tubes to someone today- #epic fail. I need to forward this post over to him.

Nancy Thompson said...

I love Michael Crichton's thriller about nanotechnology gone very, very wrong: Prey. It is super scary and creepy!!

Nick Wilford said...

Now this is something I really find fascinating. How do they build the tiny objects? An invisibility cloak sounds wonderful, but I would need more details on these nano pollutants.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I never realized the bad side, but I would like either an invisiblity cloak or maybe new knees if they get around to making body tissues.

Christine Rains said...

I think it could do great things, but it depends in who's hands the technology falls in.

Christine Rains said...

I think it could do great things, but it depends in who's hands the technology falls in.

Cheryl Klarich said...

Amazing. Way over my head!!!

Anonymous said...

whew..finally something scientific I've actually heard about. Just that it all came from SciFi books, shows and movies. Still...

Alllllll so informative.Thanks GE

Anonymous said...

whew..finally something scientific I've actually heard about. Just that it all came from SciFi books, shows and movies. Still...

Alllllll so informative.Thanks GE

The Golden Eagle said...

Theresa: The number surprised me when I came across it researching this post.

Andrew: Just checked out your past A-Z posts. I love your take on the Challenge; it's interesting to see technology develop.

Carrie: Thank you! :)

As a Writer: Thanks.

Inger: Wow, Princeton? I'm sure there's some interesting research going on at that university . . .

Michael: Thank you. :)

I wanted to get into the details of the subjects I wrote about; didn't see much point in bringing them up if I wasn't going to explain them!

M: You can't get much smaller than an atom. At least, our engineering capabilities can't (though, imagine manipulating quarks).

Erin: It's a great idea!

You're very welcome.

Michelle: Nope, you can't. And there are plenty of other things with that kind of status in our lives.

Carolyn: Hope he finds it useful. :)

Nancy: I saw Prey mentioned in another blog post about nanotechnology. It does sound scary. :P

Nick: Me, too.

Susan: New knees might be a job better suited for biotechnology or robotics, but hey, maybe they will create body parts out of nanoparticles someday . . .

Christine: As with most things.

Cheryl: Hope my post gave you something new to ponder, though. :)

Stuart: Nanotechnology is like faster-than-light travel, in that sense; a lot of SF writers have jumped on the topic.

You're welcome!

Market Analysis said...

very nice research has done on nanotechnology..Nanotechnology enters in each and every sector which leads to growth of nanotech industry across
globe..Thanx for sharing this informative post