Article on Science


                                                                                                         Meera Swaien        


Nanoscience and nanotechnology involve studying and working with matter on an ultra small scale. It is a technology that creates small materials at the scale of molecules by manipulating single atoms. Many scientific and technological advances have been made recently that depend on the properties of materials at a very very small scale. Such technological advances are known as “nanotechnology”, the prefix ‘nano’ being derived from the Greek word ‘nanos’, which means dwarf. 

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The term “nanotechnology” was defined by Tokyo science university professor Norio Taniguchi in a 1974 paper as follows: Nanotechnology mainly consist of the processing of separation, consolidation and deformation of materials by one atom or one molecule. In 1980s the basic idea of the definition was explored in much more depth by Dr. Eric Drexler, who promoted the technological significance of nano-scale phenomena and devices through speeches and books. 

The amount of data, which can be stored per square centimeter, has doubled each year for the last decade. The reading head of a current hard disk drive uses the effect of giant magneto resistivity (GMR) to sense the recorded magnetic data.GMR sensors use metallic stripes, less than 2nm thick, whi -ch are extremely sensitive to changes in magnetic fields. These are connected electrically to the disk drive electronics. 

Some of the newer products that incorporate nanotechnology include biosensors, devices that can analyze blood composition to detect disease and illness, longer life tennis balls, glasses that cleans itself, rocket propellant that burns at double the normal rate, super tough automobile and plane coatings and fuel additives that improves fuel consumption and lead to reduces emission of noxious exhaust gases. 

Nanotechnology is currently the subject of much research and study, and as a result it is developing rapidly. It has great potential for producing improvements and innovations in many areas of life like: 
  • New and improved health treatments. 
  • Reduced use of some harmful or scarce resources.
  • Cleaner ,faster and safer manufacturing 
  • Increased life cycle of products. 

Nanotechnology occurs at the order of nanometer (symbol: nm), that is from 0.1nm to around 100nm (which is 0.00000001 to 0.00001 cm)i.e. it is defined as one billionth of a meter ,which is a thousandth of millionth of a meter ,or 1*10^-9 m. To put it another way, a nanometer is about: as wide as a DNA molecule, how much our fingernails grow each second, 1/80,000 the diameter of an average human hair!! 


Nature is the master of operating at the nanoscale –it has always depended on nanoscale operations for the functioning of life, for example: the metabolic activities within cells that sustain life: the fertilization of an embryo in reproduction; and the interaction of cellular components foe cell movement, to name a few. The ecosystem is another natural system, which is heavily dependent on nanotechnology –nano particles are important in the formation of both rain and snow. 


There are many familiar products and machines that we use everybody which already rely on nanotechnology: the most obvious of these the computer hard disk drives, which relies on various nanotechnologies to record and read date. These in turn will have beneficial socio-economic and environmental effects. However as with any advance, there is always the prospect of unwanted knock-on effects too. These can be avoided only if there is an informed understanding and debate within society as a whole. 

Nanotechnology is broad term that can describe any science and technology where structures of the order of a nanometer play a critical role, and as a result many different areas including electronics, magnetism, biotechnology, material science, medicines and health care, environmental science and textiles. The diversity of the disciplines involved means that often grouping of similar technologies emerge and develop their own focus. 

Like it or not, nanotechnology is the next BIG THING.                                                                                                                                         



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