Nanotechnology refers to the usage and production of materials and devices on an atomic scale, smaller than one μm, usually 1 to 100 nm. It is an interdisciplinary field encompassing physics, science, engineering, biology, chemistry, etc. It is technically an expansion and modification of existing sciences into the nanoscale.
How small is nanoscale small? A nanometre is a billionth of a meter. But what does this actually mean? Cells and bacteria, for example, are measured in micrometers – and nanometre is a thousand times smaller. It is difficult to perceive something so small, so here are a couple of examples:
- A pinhead is approximately a million nanometres wide.
- A human hair is about 60,000- 100,000 nm wide.
- A sheet of paper is around 80,000 nm thick.
- A strand of DNA is 2.5 nm in diameter.
- A single gold atom is approximately a third of a nanometre wide.
Natural nanotechnology Nature developed and perfected ‘nanotechnologies’ over billions of years, using enzymes and catalysts to arrange different atoms and molecules into sophisticated microscopic structures with great detail. These essential products are built efficiently and have remarkable capabilities, such as harvesting solar energy, converting minerals and water into living organisms, storing and processing enormous amounts of data and flawlessly replicating information stored in our DNA molecules. The use of potential Nanotechnology has achieved astounding progress in the past several decades and has already been used in many products, including textiles, cosmetics and sports equipment.
Advancements in nanotechnology have the potential to improve healthcare, enhance the use of natural resources, and reduce environmental pollution. The simultaneous development of nanotechnology and green chemistry and their potential synergy can lead to the creation of sustainable methods with more minor ecological impacts, conservation of resources and human health.
The author is a 12-grade student