Nanotech: The future?
By Shafeeka Hafeez
The study of some of the smallest particles in existence is called nanotechnology. It took scientists centuries to utilise nanoparticles in physics, because their innermost structures were invisible to the naked eye. In fact, they are so tiny that 80,000 nanoparticles can fit into the width of a single strand of hair!
But with the advent of electron microscopes in the recent decades, there came a new era for nanotechnology. It didn’t take scientists long to find out the magical uses of these invisible particles. Today, nanotech is used nearly everywhere. Let us explore some applications of nanotech in various industries.
Clothes manufactured using nanotechnology can be used for a longer time than ordinary clothes, because it can withstand continuous washing and scrubbing without much damage to its texture. It doesn’t easily get dirty either – it can resist dust, water, mud, and all kinds of gross stains. Bulletproof vests and body armours are also enhanced by nanotech. In the near future, we can even expect clothes that could store energy expended through your movements, sense your body temperature and heart rate, and alert you if you are getting weak.
Nanotechnology has managed to introduce high-power rechargeable batteries for vehicles, smooth-rolling tyres, highly efficient sensors at very low prices, solar panels, and cleaner fuel additives, thereby revolutionising the motor industry. The widely used bulletproof glasses and flexible motorcycle helmets are also made using nanotech. The newest vehicles are engineered to be lighter, stronger, more durable, and able to withstand most accidents.
The production of fuel from raw materials is a messy process that requires a lot of effort and time. Nanotech is helping to make this more efficient, while also making sure toxic gases are not released. The two main reasons we don’t use solar panels are cost and inefficiency. As healthy as it is for the environment, it is also unable to meet the high demand for energy in a single household. Nanotech is now being used in solar cells to convert sunlight to energy more efficiently, while also making it inexpensive. It is also being used to make windmill blades stronger, longer, and lighter, enabling to increase the amount of electricity produced using renewable energy sources.
Nanomedicine, the use of nanotechnology in medicine, has become vital in fi nding cures for previously incurable diseases and making diagnoses of ailments much easier. Scanning and imaging of internal organs in order to discover the cause of health problems has become clearer and less expensive. Nanotech scientists are working on bigger and bigger projects – they’re currently researching how to directly inject medication to cancer cells without having to damage the healthy cells, while also reducing the toxic effects cancer treatment has on the patient’s body. This, if successful, could save millions of lives across the world.
Nanotech is being used to purify water by detecting and treating impurities at low costs, making drinking water affordable and healthy. Engineers are also researching ways to chemically clean out the industrial pollutants from water, and to filter the toxic gases and dust particles out of the air we breathe. Although it is being used globally in so many industries, nanotechnology still remains a newcomer to the sciences. This means that once we start maximising the uses of nanoparticles, we would also be paving way for a cleaner, healthier world with more equal living conditions.