Nanotechnology epitomizes the very height of scientific achievement. It also represents the next major threshold of technological advancement facing mankind today. Its impact will have an incalculable effect on every aspect of humanity from everyday living to the major industries that provide us with the things we need to function as a society and a global community.
The nano in nanotechnology indicates measurements in the hundredths of centimeters or nanometers. So, the thrust of this branch of engineering deals with machines on the molecular scale.
Nanotechnology, when it comes into full actualization will facilitate the advancement of civilization in leaps and bounds, each new discovery expanding on the previous discoveries. The reasonable prediction concerning nanotechnology will be its capacity to increase personal wealth and productivity exponentially.
It will certainly change the way we view and interact with the world around us. It will make possible enormous advancements in the medical field and in industrial capabilities, and even in the exploration and utilization of space. It will have a greater impact on the modern world than the Industrial Revolution had on the world of the 19th century.
The first confirmed experiments in the application of nanotechnology occurred in 1990 when individual xenon atoms were layered on a nickel substrate to create the logo of a prominent computer company. Yet even before then, the true hints of the possibilities of nanotechnology occurred in the late ’80s when molecules suspended in a crystalline solution were made to turn red or green through an applied current. This undoubtedly led to the 1990 achievement.
Nanotechnology at the core of the concept deals with machines on the molecular level. The possibilities are limitless. Imagine machines such as nano-assemblers that construct items from the molecule out. This is just one of dozens of applications of nanotechnology–perhaps hundreds. Everywhere in Science Fiction you see the depiction of nanotechnology, such as the manner in which one particular race in a popular science fiction series assimilate beings into its collective.
In literature, nanotechnology is responsible for things like smart paint, a coating of nanomachine enriched substance that work to change the color scheme of an object. Or living metal, a substance that allows items made of it to effect self-repairs by utilizing molecules from the surrounding environment. The damaged item constructed of this material may be set on a table and left alone for a while. The item will be repaired, however, the table beneath it will be pitted where the nanomachines had taken the table’s molecules for the repairs!
In the immediate future, nanotechnology will have varied applications, most notably in the field of medicine where a colony of nanomachines may be introduced into a patient’s body to effect surgical repairs, such as removing foreign matter or repairing damaged or diseased tissue. Nanomachines may even be used to effect damaged genes, removing the predisposition for a particular hereditary defect.
Other applications may be in the creation of smart surfaces. For instance, a desktop may be embedded with a layer of nanomachines that function as a computer and turns the surface into a display of the data. Or in the ever-popular industry of consumer electronics, things such as PDAs embedded into the surface of your wrist. Or permanent communications nanomachines embedded in your skin near your ear.
Nanotechnology will also heavily impact the field of computers and research in artificial intelligence, because it will be possible to create extremely complex computers on the molecular level.
The application of nanotechnology could be applied to every aspect of life, from nanomachines designed to keep a farm clean of pests without harming the environment, to self-repairing vehicle engines. The impact nanotechnology will have on space exploration may well accelerate mankind’s expansion into the stars.
Even now the beginnings of the nanotechnology revolution is making a steady presence. One particular company provides what it calls EviDots. These are nanocrystal quantum dots that come in a variety of colors to facilitate experiments in other fields of study, such as providing fluorescent tags to measure and quantify biological data. Other uses of these EviDots include semiconductor research, optical transistors, tunable colors for LEDs (Light Emitting Diode), and photovoltaic solar cells.
The industry for providing the foundation of advancements in nanotechnology development is already formulating, so major advances and utilization in the field can’t be far behind. The main evidence that we will have finally arrived in the Nanotechnology Age will be when consumer goods are seeded with nanotechnological elements.
Perhaps a watch with a rudimentary nanocomputer built in to control an expanded variety of functions currently unavailable in an item so small, or a datacard imbedded with a molecular processor that keeps track of every aspect of your life, including your medical and financial history.
It would function as a debit/credit card, a personal key to your house and vehicle and as an irrefutable means of identification. This very same datacard could be imbedded in the skin on the tip of your finger. It would be impossible to lose or misplace it!
The vistas the coming age of nanotechnology will open is just a stupendous consideration, permeating all strata of life, changing our way of interacting with the world around us forever.