Main menu



Nanotechnology: its uses and is there any harm from it?

 Nanotechnology is the use of matter on an atomic, molecular and supramolecular scale for industrial purposes. The first widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precise manipulation of atoms and molecules to manufacture large products, now also referred to as molecular nanotechnology.

A more general description of nanotechnology was developed later, defining nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension in size from 1 to 100 nanometers. This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important on the scale of the quantum world. Thus the definition has shifted from a specific technological objective to a research category that includes all kinds of research and techniques dealing with the special and subtle properties of matter. So it is common to see the plural form of nanotechnology to refer to a wide range of research and applications whose common characteristic is size.

Nanotechnology: its uses and is there any harm from it?

Various characteristics:

The results of research in this field showed that an atom or a small group of atoms (the size of ten hydrogen atoms equals 1 nanometer) do not have the same physical properties when isolated as if they were inside a large body.

If we take a cube of carbon (graphite) with a side of ten centimeters and cut it into four parts, we get four cubes with sides of 2.5 centimeters. Each of these cubes has a black color and the same properties as the first cube. And if we continued the process of fragmentation to the limits of one thousandth of a millimeter (that is, a micrometer is equal to one thousand nanometers), we would get the same thing. But if we reach the dimensions of about a hundred nanometers, the properties change and the cubes lose their normal color.

As we know, the color of gold in its normal state is yellow, but it turns transparent when the gold granules are less than 20 nanometers in size, and with increasing reduction, their color changes from green to orange and then to red. Which means that very small objects have different properties.

The Tunisian researcher says that in such dimensions the known (classical) physical rules become inapplicable and are replaced by the rules of quantum physics.

Interest in this field has increased, especially with the discovery of graphene by Dutch and Russian researcher Andre Geim in 2004, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. Today, the field of nanoscience and technology has become one of the most important scientific fields that are competing with developed countries - led by the United States, Germany and Japan. South Korea and China - in publishing scientific articles and registering patents, included most scientific fields such as medicine, electronics, mechanics, biology, artificial intelligence and others. The size of the nanotechnology market is expected to reach about one thousand billion dollars in 2015.

Nanotechnology uses:

In the medical field, scientists have been able to make precise machines the size of blood cells that can treat many diseases that require surgical operations, such as removing tumors or blockages within the arteries. Scientists in the US Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are also working on making precise machines to be injected into the bodies of astronauts, in order to monitor the health of the body and deal early with diseases that may affect them without the need for a doctor.

In the same field, Italian physician and researcher Silvano Dragonieri from the University of Bari created a portable electronic nose using carbon nanotubes capable of diagnosing diseases such as cancer by analyzing the air that comes out of the lungs during exhalation, which contains more than 3000 volatile organic compounds. It is known that the only way to detect this disease at present is the scanning device "scanner".

In the field of energy, many research teams in different regions of the world are working on creating devices for storing energy in general, and nanotechnology will help produce batteries that store large amounts of energy for long periods. This will contribute to the production of cars that run on clean energy at a lower cost and reduce dependence on fossil energies (oil) currently approved. The researchers also seek to develop transparent solar cells with a very high efficiency approaching 100%. Knowing that the solar cells used today do not exceed the average yield of 20%.

In recent years, many other applications of nanotechnology have also appeared, including smart clothes that are able to produce energy or remove dirt and microbes on their own, and glass that is dust-repellent and non-conductive. And the manufacture of materials that are stronger than steel with lighter weight, and the creation of transparent and foldable stereoscopic (three-dimensional) screens.

Future uses of this technology:

Tunisian researcher in the field of nanotechnology, Kamal Besbas, says that some future applications are currently being tested in advanced research centers, including repairing infected cells inside the human body, changing sections of the DNA molecule by nanorobots to avoid disease, as well as developing The "Internet of Things" technology, through which it is possible to remotely connect to equipment and tools such as car keys, washing machine, refrigerator, and others.

The coming years will witness the proliferation of implants and nanoelectronic devices to replace damaged parts of the human body, such as the retina, hands, skin, and others.

The researcher adds that an experiment is currently being conducted within the framework of a project to follow up the source of meat intended for consumption by means of slices capable of locating, conducting meat analysis and storing information during all stages of production and distribution. The consumer of this food item can read the information stored on the slide to know its source, how long it will stay in the refrigerator, and its ability to be consumed.

Is there any harm from this technique??

In the midst of the rapid spread of this technology, medical studies have begun to appear during the past few years that confirm the health risks of materials manufactured using carbon nanotubes.

These studies indicated that they had confirmed that the new carbon nanomaterials caused the emergence of malignant tumors in people who deal with them directly. The microscopic nature of this substance makes it easy to enter the body through the skin pores or inhale. Today, there is no medical treatment that can get rid of these substances if they enter the body.

Apparently, these warnings will not stop the train of the new age (the era of nanotechnology) after it turns to maximum speed, and according to future studies, it is expected that this technology will reach its peak in exploitation around 2030, says Besbas. As for the medical risks, "nanotechnology" may find a solution at a later time.


table of contents title