Some of the most exciting developments in modern technology are being explored in the field of nanotechnology. Future nanotechnology inventions could revolutionize the world as we know it in countless ways, including how we approach manufacturing. How will nanotechnology change the future? First, it may help to understand a little more about what nanotechnology is.
What Is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is the use of electronically-powered particles that are incredibly small to achieve things larger machines cannot. Some people think of nanotech products as molecular machines. Just as molecules work together to create complex structures like those found in plants and animals, the goal of nanotechnology is to give humans the ability to build and control complex systems using molecular-sized computer technology.
What Are Some of the Common Uses of Nanotechnology?
Some of the early popular applications of technology are found in the medical field. In particular, nanotechnology is joining the forefront of the war against cancer. There are already nanoparticles that can mark cancer cells by giving off visible light when they detect one or releasing a signaling molecule. It is hoped that in the future, nanoparticles can be altered to not only locate and identify cancer cells but also destroy them, surgically, without harming other cells around them.
Other future applications of nanotechnology may be less dramatic but can be extremely useful and change our lives for the better. For example, some researchers are working on creating self-cleaning clothing and other self-cleaning materials by adding photocatalytic nanoparticles that convert dirt into water and carbon dioxide using ultraviolet light.
Then there are some of the wearable possible applications of nanotechnology. We may also see nanoparticles included in contact lenses or hearing aids that could significantly increase the information that these devices provide, such as creating a heads-up display to provide additional information about what you are seeing or putting a “personal advisor” right in your ear.
What Are Some of the Most Exciting Possible Future Uses of Nanotechnology?
The health applications, to be sure, are extremely exciting. Another exciting possibility that comes with nanotechnology has to do with the environment. Scientists are concluding that our world is in much greater danger from climate change than we initially believed, and that fast action is necessary to save our planet. Nanotechnology can potentially provide this solution, with water filtration devices that work at the molecular level and nanotech machines that can remove carbon dioxide from the air.
Stages of Nanotechnology
So, how soon can we expect to see all of these amazing innovations, and in what sequence? Those in the field seem to say we should not expect our world to change overnight. This field and its applications are progressing gradually. In fact, scientists see the introduction of nanotechnology into our culture taking place in four phases:
- Material Phrase: The first is the material phase, using nanotechnology to passively enhance existing materials, such as reinforcing plastics with carbon nanotubes, or photocatalytic particles for self-cleaning items as mentioned above.
- Active Nanotechnology: If the first phase is passive nanotechnology, the second phase would be active nanotechnology. Here is where some of the most potentially valuable biomedical applications such as fighting cancer would predominate, using bioactive nanomachines to target specific cells or organs.
- Nanorobotics Advances: The third phase would see tremendous advances in nanorobotics, advanced robotic systems built up from the molecular level.
- Evolution of Nanoparticles: The final phase would be the ultimate evolution of nanoparticles as molecular machines, allowing us to actually build and grow complex items like artificial organs using nanomaterials.
Preparing for a Nanotechnology Future
If this all seems a bit overwhelming, remember that this evolution of the integration of nanotechnology into our day-to-day world is expected to take place over the course of decades. If your industry or manufacturing business does not make use of nanotechnology yet, don’t worry — it will be coming. Do not be surprised if you find yourself in the future using materials with embedded nanotechnology or employing machines that were made using nanotechnology or incorporates nanotechnology in its operation.
While not all nanotechnology will be directly relevant to you and your business, the aspects of this incredible science that are may astound you with how quickly they allow you to grow and progress in your industry. As manufacturers and people involved in industries such as electronics, healthcare, automotive and many others, we should look forward to all the progress we can expect nanotechnology to bring to our operations and our world.