Nanotechnology is a cutting-edge technology offering revolutionary applications such as in producing and storing energy, in detecting and treating diseases, in monitoring and protecting the living environment, in improving the production of crops and food quality, and to build small and complex electronic structures to large structures like airplanes.
Observing, measuring, manipulating, and manufacturing things at a nanometer scale is known as nanotechnology. In the SI system, a nanometer (nm) is one-billionth of a distance of meter, or to be saying it in simple words, a nanometer is the size of the little finger nail.
In this scale, the size is small as an atom and a molecule.
Nanotechnology: Present and Future
According to reports, more than $32 billion worth nanomaterial products were sold in 2005. Further, researchers have said that nanomaterial goods and services will grow to $1 trillion by 2015. On the other hand, financial experts have said that nanomaterial products will reach $2.6 billion in 2014. At present, there are more than 300 companies worldwide that market and sell nanomaterial products. Majority of these companies produce about 800 or more nanoproducts that are at present available in the American market.
Some of the products using nanotechnology applications include: sporting goods, car paints and car waxes, anti-bacterial cleansers, apparel industry, medical bandages, OLED's, and sunscreens and cosmetics. Some of nanotechnology's future applications include: solar energy, environment, food and agriculture, fuel cells, medical applications, drug production, aeronautics and automobiles, and lab-on-chip.
Nanotechnology and the World Economy
Nanotechnology is growing at an alarming rate and is expected to have a huge impact on various sectors of the world economy. As a result, financial investment in nanotechnology is growing every day. An economy that is built on a strong nanotechnology foundation can potentially lead to new jobs, new business opportunities, and even nee industries. The
American government passed a bill in 2003 that authorized $3.7 billion to develop and research nanotechnology applications and its social and ethical effects. Following the United States, many nations have begun funding for nanotechnology development. Russia plans to invest $ 1 billion in nanotechnology research and development in the next 3 years. Countries with interests in nanotechnology include Philippines, Japan, Thailand, China Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Korea, Chile, Israel, and many European countries.
Nanotechnology and Developing Nations
Nanotechnology applications aim to benefit developing nations through the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health (CPGGH) that has planned to help the developing countries in addressing various problems such as fatal diseases, child mortality, environmental degradation, poverty, hunger, and food quality. The CPGGH listed the top five nanotechnology applications to impact the developing world.
The list includes: drug delivery system, water treatment and remediation, energy storage, production, and conservation, disease diagnosis and screening, and agricultural productivity enhancement.
Nanotechnology and Disease Diagnosis
Cardiac arrest and stroke are most common and frequent causes of death across the world. The major reason behind these conditions is plaque formation in the blood vessels. Research is being conducted on the use of nanoparticle drugs that dissolve and breakdown the fibrin that causes blood clot. Another experiment employed special molecules called "nanolipoblockers" that prevent cholesterol from building at specific blood vessel areas.
In cancer research nanotechnology offers a wealth of tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Already, scientists have begun applying nanotechnology applications to create new and improved ways to find small tumors. Nanotechnology is used diabetes as a diagnostic tool to check glucose metabolism. In other infectious disease, nanotechnology is used for the early diagnosis of bacterial and viral infections. Further medicinal applications of nanotechnology include breast cancer, implants and prosthetics, and in burn victims.
Nanotechnology and Food Industry
Nanotechnology is expected to improve the quality of food for consumers by rapidly detecting food pathogens using biosensor systems. By using a biosensor system, even tiny amounts of food pathogens can be identified. Another nanotechnology type used in the food industry is the nano bar code. The nanoparticles contain recognizable and specific chemical fingerprints that are read by an optical microscope, or a machine. Scanning these barcodes reveals pathogens or spoilage in the food package. Nanotechnology has wide spread applications in agriculture, livestock diseases, animal feeding, fish farming, and forest products.
Introduced first in the late 1970s, nanotechnology is expected to bring about stronger, lighter, cleaner, economical, and much more durable products in future.
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