What is Nanotechnology? “Nanotechnology is the manipulation or self-assembly of individual atoms, molecules, or molecular clusters into structures to create materials and devices with new or vastly different properties. Nanotechnology can work from the top down (which means reducing the size of the smallest structures to the nanoscale… or the bottom up (which involves manipulating individual atoms and molecules into nanostructures and more closely resembles chemistry or biology)” (Joseph & Morrison, 2006, p.3, para. 2).
There are several requirements which are needed to meet the definition of nanotechnology; size limitation of 1-100 nm (or about the width of three or four atoms), and it needs to be man-made. Its purpose is to control matter at a nanoscale, using mechanochemistry to form the desired structure. One of the most important criteria is that the nano-structure has its own unique characteristics that are unlike any other nano-structure. It is required to be unique.
Nanotechnology in essence is not futuristic in nature. Scientists refer to a timeline of the development of nanotechnology. The first wave of nanoparticles would perform one function only. The nanoparticles of the second wave would be able to execute multiple functions. The third wave would be proliferation. Nanotechnology is already applied and used today in cosmetics (sunscreen), coatings (non-scratch surfaces), and to make stronger tools. Short-term applications will most likely include such things as paints. Paints created with nanotechnology could have various properties for multiple applications, e.g. reducing solvent need in paint and thereby making it more environmentally friendly, making paint thinner, which could be used on aircraft. It would reduce the weight of the airplane and therefore reduce its use of fuel (Nanowerk LLC, 2011). An additional short-term goal is to create nanoparticles that can react with pollutants in water or soil, rendering them harmless components (Nanowerk LLC, 2011). I believe this would be a great idea for mining sites where polluted water collects, or to clean our drinking water without use of chlorine or other harsh chemicals. It would also be of advantage for poverty stricken areas where inhabitants do not have the technology to properly detoxify their drinking water. Nanotechnology is also used in the computer industry to create smaller and smaller processors with more storage and faster processing capabilities. The results are lightweight, portable computers, as opposed to the computers that took up an entire room in the 1970s.
Some of the long-term goals of nanotechnology would include medical, military, and agricultural applications. “Current medical implants, such as orthopedic implants and heart valves, are made of titanium and stainless steel alloys, primarily because they are biocompatible” (Nanowerk LLC, 2011). Often these implants have to be replaced due to wear and tear. “Nanocrystalline silicon carbide is a candidate...