Nanotechnology: The Future Here Now
Webopedia defines nanotechnology as the “field of science whose goal is to control individual atoms and molecules to create computer chips and other devices that are thousands of times smaller than current technologies permit”. Current manufacturing processes use lithography to imprint circuits on semiconductor materials, at a size of less than one micron (1,000 nanometers), dealing with aggregates of millions of atoms. It is believed that this method is quickly approaching its physical limits. In order to continue reducing the size of semiconductors, new technologies that juggle individual atoms will be necessary. Popularly, the term nanotechnology refers to the science whose goal is to control individual atoms and molecules to create various things that are thousands of times smaller than the current technology allows. These processes will touch on all areas of our lives, several of great importance to our health and well being. New terms are starting to surface, such as molecular nanotechnology, nanocoating, nanoceramics, nanoparticles and targeted nano therapies.
While many definitions of nanotechnology exist, the National Nanotechnology Initiative defines nanotechnology only if the process involves all of the following:
1. Research and technology development at the atomic, molecular or macromolecular
level, on the length scale of 1 – 100 nanometers.
2. Creating and using structures, devices and systems that have novel properties
and functions because they are very small.
3. The ability to control and manipulate on the molecular level.
Some of the societal benefits that will be important to us are, better healthcare, economic competitiveness, better use of natural resources, cleaner manufacturing, and cheaper, cleaner, and more widely available energy.
Medical researchers are working at the micro- and nano- scales to develop new drug delivery methods, therapeutics and pharmaceuticals. Congressman Martin Meehan (D-MA) unveiled a new technology designed to give late-term breast and prostate cancer patients a second chance at recovery. This new process has none of the debilitating side effects of chemo and radiation therapies. Targeted Nano-Therapeutics (TNT) is the first therapy of its kind. The TNT system attacks cancer in three steps. First, the patient receives a simple infusion containing trillions of bioprobes, a nano-scale magnetic sphere bound to an antibody. Once in the bloodstream, the bioprobes seek out and attach to cancer cells. Finally, the doctor switches on a magnetic field in the region of the cancer, which causes the bioprobes to heat up, killing the cancer cells within minutes. Researchers at the University of California, Davis have invented, and demonstrated the working principle of, a new radiation therapeutic method, which uses gold nanoparticles...