NANOTECHNOLOGY : BENEFITS AND DANGERS TO OUR LIVES
Nanotechnology or Nanoscience is a field of science, engineering and technology research which is concerned with innovative building conducted at nanoscale of about 1 to 100 nanometers. Nanoscience or technology study extremely small things and also make applications on them in different disciplines like chemistry, biology, physics, engineering and materials sciences.
Paul Davidovits defined Nanotechnology in his abstract in “Physics in Biology and Medicine” that Nanotechnology is the construction, manipulation, and utilization of Nano sized materials of controlled composition and shape. In limited ways nanoparticles have been utilized in a range of applications before their attributes were fully understood. In the middle ages artisans learned that by mixing gold chloride into melted glass they could obtain a richly colored stained glass. It is now known that they were producing within the glass Nano sized gold particles. Carbon black nanoparticles, have been used for decades as reinforcing material in rubber compounds; an application central in the manufacturing of tires.
The ideas and concepts behind nanoscience and nanotechnology started with a discussion entitled “There is plenty of Room at the Bottom”” by Richard Feyman, an American physicist. On December 29, 1959, Richard Feynman gave out hypothesis that enable scientists of today to manipulate and control each unit of atoms and molecules. The term “nanotechnology” was coined out by Professor Norio Taniguchi.
Nanotechnology has been employed by developed and developing nations due to its high efficacy in energy consumption, it help solve major health challenges, it increases manufacturing production at a low cost and also help clean our environment.
Fundamental Concepts in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
• a nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or 10-9 of a meter
• There are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch
• A sheet of newspaper is about 100,000 nanometers thick
• On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth
BENEFITS OF NANOTECHNOLOGY
Since inception of Nanoscience or Nanotechnology, the world has been experiencing improvement across all sectors which include:
• Health: Nanotechnology has contributed copiously to improved health care system. Making diagnosis and treatment so easy and less costly. For example, malaria parasite in red blood cells can now be analyzed by the use of ‘optical tweezers’, pairs of tiny glass beads which brought together or separated can give the full elasticity property of red blood cells. This has help in holistic and clinical understanding of malaria pathophysiology.
Nanotechnology through nanobots can help in some clinical procedures like embolization. A nanobot could be sent through arteries and solve any form of tissue or vascular obstructions. It could also be used to fix damaged genes, to do fast and accurate surgeries and to refine drug production making them more effective with less side effects.
• Food Security: The risk of artificial famine cost by uncontrolled pesticides, has been reduced with the Nano- oriented innovative sensors which has the quality to monitor pathogens like livestock and crop pests. There are also fertilizers produced based on nanoscience or Nano technology which unanimously with the innovative sensors has increase crop productivity, thereby enabling food security.
• Energy: Nanotechnology may transform the ways in which we obtain and make use of energy. It makes new methods of energy production and storage. Solar power panel for example, are more economical due to less cost effectiveness of nanoscience.
• Environment: For example: the so-called “gray goo” scenario, where self-replicating nanobots consume everything around them to make copies of themselves, was once widely discussed but is no longer considered to be a credible threat.
There is also improved vehicle with innovative qualities like fuel efficiency, corrosion resistance and improved gas mileage. The vehicle parts are now build from light, strong and chemical resistant Nano composite and Nano filters which remove airborne particles from the combustion chamber of vehicle.
• Water System: 15-20 nanometers wide water filters help remove Nano-sized particles, including virtually all viruses, bacteria and other parasites. These cost-efficient, portable water treatment systems are ideal for improving the quality of drinking water and preventing waterborne diseases.
• Textile: Textile industry has been empowered with different improvement like introduction of nanofibers which enable water resistance, flame resistance and stain resistance, without tampering with established qualities like weight or stiffness of fabrics.
• Preservative: Most sunscreens today are made from nanoparticles that effectively absorb light, including the more dangerous ultraviolet rays, which spread more easily over the skin but me nanoparticles are also used in food packaging to reduce UV exposure and prolong shelf life.
DANGERS OF NANOTECHNOLOGY
There are some disadvantages brought by this amazing technology which include;
1. Nanoparticles could damage the lungs. We know that ‘ultra fine’ particles from diesel machines, power plants and incinerators can cause considerable damage to human lungs. This is because of their sizes, metals and hydrocarbon content which can get deep into the pulmonary system.
2. Nanoparticles can create ‘free radicals’ which can cause cell damage, skin damage, digestive impairment and damage to the DNA. Study also shows that nanoparticles when in the bloodstream they could cross the blood-brain barrier.
3. Economic market crashes related to a potential lower value of oil due to more efficient energy sources and gold or diamonds, materials that can be reproduced with molecular manipulation.