Nanotechnology, a revolutionary scientific undertaking, involves creation and utilization of materials, devices, or systems on an extremely small scale, usually on an atomic or molecular scale, and is currently undergoing explosive development on many fronts. (see photo 1) These fronts include the creation of materials, medicine, electronics, and energy production. With nanotechnology, tiny devices can be created with single molecules or atoms. The reason this is so useful is that anything can be created and done on a scale so tiny. It can be used to diagnose and treat diseases, improve energy efficiency, create smaller and more powerful computers, and possibly even greater things in the future.
One part of life that has and will greatly benefit from the advances of nanotechnology is medicine. Nanotechnology will allow doctors to more effectively diagnose diseases and deliver drugs. It may even allow doctors to engineer body tissue atom by atom, which would be very useful in the case of infection, amputation, or the need for new organs.
Nanotechnology will greatly improve the diagnosis of diseases by how versatile nanotechnology can be. Small, nanosized robots or particles can be sent into the body with a computer built in. Whenever the nanobots reach certain cells that indicate some sort of disease, the cell properties can be relayed back to the doctors (see photo 2). Researchers at Harvard University have already synthesized a charged nanowire that can detect the presence of cancer. The reason this is superior to current diagnosis methods is because of its improved reliability. The nanobots physically go into the body and locate diseased cells, which is much more reliable than blood tests, urine samples or even MRI scans, all of which can miss important indicators for a disease. The nanodevices can enter cells and sample its properties, perhaps even interact with the cell, and send data back to the doctors.
Drug delivery will also greatly improve, perhaps even more so than the diagnosis of drugs. One of the main reasons nanotechnology can so benefit drug delivery is that nanotechnology has the potential to actively target areas that need treatment (see photo 3). With traditional drugs, when it is delivered into the body, it must circulate throughout the whole body, which consequently can cause side effects. With nanotechnology, this problem is eliminated, as they can be directed to a specific part of the body.
The environment is another aspect of life that will be greatly impacted by the advance of nanotechnology. Enough solar energy hits the earth in a minute to sufficiently power the earths population for a week. Extensive research is currently being done on how nanotechnology can convert solar energy into hydrogen in fuel cells. Scientists have developed a process that utilizes nanotechnology, which shows great promise in this field. Currently however, the energy production of fuel cells is very inefficient. In fact it is so...