This article will serve as a beginner’s guide to nanotechnology and will explain what nanotechnology is, the strides we’ve made in the field, what nanotechnology is good for, when you can expect to have nanotechnology at your fingertips, and how it will change our lives. By following this simple introduction, you will be able to gain crucial information that you will need to know eventually so you might as well learn it now. Nanotechnology is an interesting industry in and of itself and it will lead the future in nearly every other industry.
What Is Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the industry in which tiny computers called nanites come together to work simultaneously throughout whatever object they are inserted into in order to perform amazing tasks at the molecular level. If you think that computers have come along way in the dream of getting smaller and smaller, you’ll be amazed at the size of nanites. Nanites are definitely the small functioning computers we have as they are about 2.5 times smaller than any given cell in your body.
Brief History of Nanotechnology
The idea of nanotechnology was first proposed by a physicist named Richard Feynman in 1959. Feynman never technically used the term “nanotechnology” or “nanite” but he gave a speech called “There’s Plenty of Room At the Bottom” in which he talked about how we would one day be able to manipulate atoms and molecules and actually craft them into whatever we wanted them to be. He then went on to discuss the possibility of us, in the distant future, creating extremely small machines that would serve as tiny tools. This idea was considered completely radical at the time but as the years rolled by, we now see nanotechnology as a very real and potential technology in the near future.
Nanotechnology wasn’t seen as a considerable concept until the 1980s when Eric Drexler began doing research into nanotechnology, including the observation of Feynman’s speech. Drexler spent countless years perfecting the concept and getting many different scientists involved with actually producing nanotechnology.
Things That Nanotechnology Can Be Used For
Nanotechnology can be used for loads of different things in many different industries. That’s why nanotechnology is such a marvelous thing: It’s not limited to one thing or even to a small group of things; it can be used for many different things in any field you can think of. Below is a list of several different tasks that nanotechnology can accomplish and examples of the wonderful abilities that it can provide the people who work in these fields.
Nanotechnology is extremely small and, being so, may be able to allow scientists to actually engineer their own molecules. As Feynman said in his speech, There’s Plenty of Room At the Bottom, nanotechnology may give us the ability to reconstruct atoms in order to make them do whatever we want them to do. Think about a world in which we can make our own oxygen or turn carbon dioxide into ozone. We may not only be able to cure our own planet of the nasty things that we’ve done to it over the years, but nanotechnology will also allow us to renovate entire atmospheres like that found on Mars and allow for us to explore new worlds in a way that’s never been imagined before.
Nanotechnology can help to preserve food in at least two different ways: The first way that nanotechnology can improve food is by sealing the bags that the food is in. See, the way food preservation works is by keeping it from as much oxygen as possible. When air gets into a bag or other container and into the food, the food will age and expire. That’s why we have so many different types of machines like the AirVac that can suck the air out of a bag after it’s been sealed so we can store it in the fridge, freezer, or pantry for a very long time. The way nanotechnology can help this is by forming a criss-cross net over the container that takes air a very long time to get through. The other way that nanotechnology can help preserve food is mostly limited to bread, specifically. When you first buy (or bake bread) it’s loaded with many proteins and fat cells that are sturdy and fight each other for space. Over time, however, the stronger fat cells eventually win out and the bread begins to get stiff and moldy. Nanotechnology can help this by reinforcing the proteins to make them stronger which means that the fat cells take much longer to take over. For you, that means that your bread will stay fresh for as long as you need it to be (relatively, that is; don’t wait years to eat your bread). With these two preservation techniques just from adding nanotechnology to the food, we may even be able to cure world hunger some day.
Nanotechnology will be able to reinforce materials to make them not only stronger, but also lighter. There are these really cool structures called nanotubes (or carbon nanotubes) that are just as stiff as diamonds and one hundred times stronger than steel, yet they’re six times lighter than steel. You may be thinking “Yeah, that’s fine and dandy, but what can it be used for?” Carbon nanotubes are great because athletes (such as golf players or tennis ball players) are constantly looking for equipment that is both strong and light. With the help of these carbon nanotubes, those athletes will be able to get exactly what they’re looking for. Another place that these carbon nanotubes will find their home is inside of military armor. As it is right now, we have kevlar to protect soldiers. Kevlar is good because it is really strong and relatively light (compared to those big iron suits that knights wore). With nanotechnology, however, each soldier will be like a walking tank. Their armor will be light enough for them to walk around and even run in without getting extraordinarily tired while providing very strong protection for the soldier at all times. Because it is so light, we could even make armor for soldiers to wear against their entire bodies instead of just their chests like they do today. That means that our soldiers will be kept safe while they perform their brave tasks throughout the world.
How Long Until Nanotechnology Is Available
Now you might be thinking “Wow! Nanotechnology sounds great. How long until we can buy it at the store, though?” That’s a good question. Some forms of nanotechnology are already being put in use by big corporations today. Some stores in the UK are using basic forms of nanotechnology to track items all the way from the distribution center to the retail store and then the tracking is turned off when you purchase the item. This not only deters people from stealing but for those who do decide to steal an item, the company is able to locate the item and get it back while also reporting the person to authorities in order to bring them to justice. While there is some controversy over whether or not the tracking is turned off at the store, as civil liberty groups are making sure of, nanotechnology may allow for us to never have to worry about theft (from stores, anyway) again. Other types of nanotechnology are being manufactured as we speak and the basic framework of it is already complete. All we have to do now is work out the bugs that are involved in technology that is so small. Within the next decade or two, there’s no reason that nanotechnology will not be a common thing seen in our everyday lives.
Hopefully this article has brought you some insight on what nanotechnology is capable of and has served as not only an educational document, but also as an entertaining one as well.