What is Nanotechnology, History, Definition, Benefit of Nanotechnology

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Nanotechnology is the engineering of tiny machines. This is done inside personal nanofactories using techniques and tools being developed today to advanced products. Nanotechnology is the technology of the future and it aid in a manufacturing revolution. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, the width of three or four atoms. A human hair is about 25000 wide. So, one can imagine how small these machines will be. The and progress in artificial intelligence and molecular technology have spawned this new form of technology ie. Nanotechnology.

Background of Nanotechnology

The ideas and concepts behind nanoscience and nanotechnology started with a talk entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) on 29th December, 1959. In his talk, Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules

Over a decade later, in his explorations of ultraprecision machining, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term ‘nanotechnology. It wasn’t until 1981, with the development of the scanning tunnelling microscope that could see individual atoms, that modern nanotechnology began.

Impact of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is sometimes called a general-purpose technology because in its advanced form, it will have significant impact on almost all industries and all areas of society. It will help in creating better built, longer lasting, cleaner, safer and smarter products for the home, communications, medicine, transportation, agriculture and for industry in general. It is more than just mixing nanoscale materials together. It requires the ability to understand and to precisely manipulate and control those materials in a useful way. Nanotechnology involves a new and broad science where diverse fields such as physics, chemistry, biology, material science and engineering converge at the nanoscale.

It is also important to understand that nanoscale materials are found in nature. For instance, haemoglobin, the oxygen-transporting protein found in red blood cells is 5.5 nanometers in diameter. Naturally occurring nanomaterials exist all around us, such as in smoke from fire, volcanic ash and sea spray. Some nanomaterials are a byproduct of human activity, such as bus and automobile exhaust and welding fumes.

Implications of Nanotechnology

To understand its implications, try to imagine a medical device that roams through the human body to find and destroy tiny clusters of cancerous cells before they can spread. Another example is a box of size of a sugar cube that holds the entire contents of a public library, or materials ten times lighter than steel yet ten times stronger. Nanotechology will result in greatly improve efficiency in almost every aspect of life as has been mentioned above.

You may recall from the size of the nanoscale page that the nanoscale is about 1 to 100 nanometers. Working at the nanoscale requires an understanding of the various types and dimensions of nanoscale materials. Different types of nanomaterials are named for their individual shapes and dimensions. Think of these simply as particles, tubes, wires, films, flakes, or shells that have one or more nanometer-sized dimension. For example, carbon nanotubes have a diameter in the nanoscale, but can be several hundred nanometers long or even longer. Nanofilms or nanoplates have a thickness in the nanoscale, but their other two dimensions can be much larger.

The key is to be able to both see and manipulate nanomaterials in order to take advantage of their special properties. As mentioned earlier, the invention of special microscopes gave scientists the ability to work at the nanoscale. The first of these new discoveries was the Scanning tunnelling microscope. While it is mainly designed to measure objects, it can also move tiny objects such as carbon nanotubes.

People are doing many different types of work in the field of nanotechnology. Most current work looks at making nanoparticles that have special properties, such as the way they scatter light, absorb X-rays, transport electrical current or heat etc. At the more ‘science fiction’ end of the field, are attempts to make small copies of bigger machines or really new ideas for structures that make themselves. New materials are possible with nano size structures and it is even possible to work with single atoms.

Nanotechnology Development in India

Che nanotechnology initiative in India is a multi-agency effort. The key agencies hat have undertaken major initiatives for capacity building are the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Information Technology (DIT). Other agencies that have shown major involvement in the field of nanotechnology are Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). In addition to this, Nanotechnology as a distinctive area of research was started with Nano Science and Technology Initiative (NSTI) in 10th Five Year Plan. Some of the major initiatives in nanotechnology are launch of Nano mission & introduction of PG programmes in Nano Science and Technology. Nanotechnology intervention in mission mode was also introduced in the fields of solar and water technology.


Nanotechnology will have both commercial and military uses. It can be used to create powerful weapons and tools of surveillance. So, it comes with benefits and risks. It implies not just better products, but a much improved manufacturing process. With nanotech, building products become as cheap as the copying of files on a computer. This explains why it is sometimes seen as the next industrial revolution. This technology could give the human race eternal life or it could complete destruction.

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