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Nanotechnology Explained


Nanotechnology is the art and science of creating new structures, materials, and gadgets at the atomic scale or smaller. Medicine, consumer goods, energy, raw materials, and industry all stand to benefit from this new technology. In the future, nanotechnology is expected to improve energy efficiency, clean the environment, and solve severe health issues. Manufacturing output can be increased dramatically while costs are decreased greatly.

Nanotechnology is used in various industries, including medicine, energy, and manufacturing. Among these are more lasting building materials, more effective medicine delivery systems, and ecologically friendly hydrogen fuel cells with a higher density.

History of Nanotechnology.

In 1981, the scanning tunnelling microscope allowed scientists and engineers to observe and manipulate individual atoms for the first time, ushering in the modern era of nanotechnology. The scanning tunnelling microscope was invented by IBM scientists Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer in 1986.

In the fourth century AD, the Romans employed nanoparticles and structures to exhibit one of the fascinating examples of nanotechnology in the ancient world, the Lycurgus cup.

In 1959, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman introduced the concept of nanotechnology. "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," Feynman's speech at the California Institute of Technology at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society (Caltech). In this talk, Feynman proposed that if we could write the entire Encyclopedia on a pin, why couldn't we use machines to build smaller machines and even go down to the molecular level? Feynman's assumptions have been proven right, and he is regarded as the father of modern nanotechnology because of this innovative concept.

After fifteen years, Norio Taniguchi, a Japanese scientist, was the first to use and define the term "nanotechnology" in 1974 as: "nanotechnology mainly consists of the processing of separation, consolidation, and deformation of materials by one atom or one molecule". One technique describes the numerous ways nanostructures can be synthesised and was developed after Feynman had discovered this new research subject that had attracted many scientists' attention. Both top-down and bottom-up production methods have varying quality, speed, and cost.

Nanoparticles are created by breaking down bulk material into smaller and smaller pieces. Precision engineering and lithography, developed and perfected by industry during the last few decades, can help with this. Microelectronics manufacturing is mostly supported by precision engineering, and high performance can be attained through a combination of advancements. These include the utilisation of sophisticated nanostructures based on diamond or cubic boron nitride, sensors for size control, and numerical control and advanced servo-drive technology. Lithography is the process of creating a desired material by patterning a surface with light, ions, or electrons, and then depositing material on that surface.

In the bottom-up approach, nanostructures are built atom by atom or molecule by molecule in a nanoscale range (1 nm to 100 nm) by controlled manipulation of self-assembly of the atoms and molecules. Materials can either be utilised in their disordered bulk form or employed as building blocks for more advanced ordered materials through chemical synthesis. Using a bottom-up strategy, self-assembly involves the chemical-physical interactions between atoms or molecules to form organised nanostructures. It is the only technology that allows for single positioning atoms, molecules, or clusters one at a time.

As early as the fourth century AD, the Romans used nanoparticles and structures, demonstrating one of the most intriguing historical examples of nanotechnology. A remarkable achievement in ancient glass manufacturing is the British Museum's Lycurgus cup. It is the earliest known dichroic glass sample. Two distinct varieties of glass are referred to as dichroic when they exhibit colour shifting under particular lighting conditions. When light shines through the cup, it appears red-purple, rather than green, as if the glass were tinted.

The Lycurgus cup

One of the earliest known synthetic nanomaterials, the Lycurgus cup, was discovered in the 2nd century BCE.

Humans have long utilised nanotechnology, but the Lycurgus Cup is one of the first examples of this practise. Incredibly, it dates back to the 4th century AD. When it comes to nanotechnology, the "Lycurgus Cup" is a notable example.

Windows from a mediaeval church.

The fusing of Au and Ag nanoparticles into the glass of late mediaeval church windows produces a bright red and yellow tint.

Alumina (Ag), copper (Cu), and other nanoparticle-containing ceramic glazes were employed by Islamic and European cultures during the 9th and 17th centuries. Nanoparticles were also used by the Italians in the 16th century to create Renaissance ceramics . Cementite nanowires and carbon nanotubes were utilised to offer strength, resistance, and the capacity to keep a sharp edge for "Damascus" sabre blades throughout the 13th–18th centuries . For hundreds of years, these colours and materials have been purposefully manipulated. Although mediaeval painters and forgers were baffled by these unexpected results, they were unable to explain them.

Modern Nanotechnology.

A new form of microscope, the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), was developed at IBM Zurich Research Laboratory in 1981 by physicists Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, building on Feynman's early ideas . When the STM is used, the electron wave functions of the atoms in the tip are so close to a conducting surface that they overlap with the surface atom wave functions. electrons "tunnel" via the vacuum gap from the tip atom into the surface when voltage is applied (or vice versa).

When Don Eigler of Almaden, California, and his colleagues employed an STM in 1990, they used it to create the IBM logo by manipulating 35 individual xenon atoms on a nickel surface. Atoms and molecules can be shaped into new forms using an STM, which was originally developed to capture images of surfaces at the molecular level. Selectively breaking or forming chemical bonds can be accomplished using the tunnelling current.

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An accidental discovery in 2004 led to the discovery in 2004 of a new class of carbon nanostructures known as C-dots, having a diameter less than 10 nm . Because of their benign, plentiful, and low-cost nature, C-dots with intriguing features are slowly coming to prominence as a new nanocarbon member. C-dots are ideal materials for bioimaging, biosensors, and drug administration because of their low toxicity and outstanding biocompatibility. C-dots' exceptional optical and electrical properties make them ideal for a wide range of other applications, including catalysis, energy conversion, photovoltaic devices, and nanoprobes for sensitive ion detection. Carbon-based materials have become the foundation of practically every discipline of research and engineering since the discovery of "graphene" in 2004.

Meanwhile, nanoscience advanced in sectors such as computer science, biotechnology, and engineering. 'Nanotechnology' Because of advancements in nanoscience and technology, computers have shrunk from the size of a room to the size of portable laptops. As a result of this advancement, electrical engineers have been able construct intricate circuits down to the nanoscale. Smart phones and other modern electronic devices for daily usage have also seen significant advancements.

Nanotechnology's advantages.

In the future, nanotechnology is expected to improve energy efficiency, clean the environment, and solve severe health issues. Manufacturing output can be increased dramatically while costs are decreased greatly, according to this theory.

Nanotechnology's drawbacks

ROS production, DNA damage, genotoxic effects, damage to organs and tissues in people, effects on crop growth and yield as well as unfavourable consequences on beneficial microbes in the environment are some of the dangers and risks associated with nanoparticles.

Nanotechnology's future.

It's possible that in the future, nanotechnology will allow items to harvest energy from their surroundings. Energy may be generated from a variety of sources with great conversion efficiency using new nanomaterials and concepts that are currently being explored.

Nanotechnology will affect practically everyone's life in the next two decades. Astonishing and stimulating to the mind are just a few of the potential advantages. In the same way, it is not without risk like many of the great accomplishments in Earth's history.


It has become increasingly possible to observe things from the micro to the nano and even smaller scale sizes by different microscopes in physics; from micro size bulk matter to small size carbon dots in chemistry; from room-sized computers to mobile slim laptops in computer science; and from the nucleus of the cell to study single complicated biomolecules at a nano level.


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Nanotechnology is the art and science of creating new structures, materials, and gadgets at the atomic scale or smaller. Medicine, consumer goods, energy, raw materials, and industry all stand to benefit from this new technology

© 2022 Charles Mwangi

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