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Nanotechnology, Nano Materials and Applications


Nanotechnology: A Small Solution To Big Problems



- Overview

Invisible particles that fight cancer cells, faster microprocessors that consume less energy, batteries that last 10 times longer or solar panels that yield twice as much energy. These are just some of the many applications of nanotechnology, a discipline with all the ingredients to turn into the next industrial revolution.

Nanotechnology and its microscopic universe offer gigantic possibilities for contemporary science and industry. This field, which flourished between the 60s and 80s, has surged in the last two decades with a booming global market.

Nanotechnology works by manipulating the molecular structure of materials to change their intrinsic properties and gain other properties with revolutionary applications. This is the case with graphene -- a modified carbon that is harder than steel, lighter than aluminum and almost transparent -- or nanoparticles used in fields such as electronics, energy, biomedicine or defense.


- Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology involves designing and producing objects or structures on a very small scale, at the level of 100 nanometers (millionths of a millimeter) or less. Nanomaterials are one of the main products of nanotechnology - as nanoscale particles, tubes, rods or fibers. Nanoparticles are generally defined as smaller than 100 nanometers in at least one dimension. 

With the development of nanotechnology, nanomaterials are being applied in fields such as healthcare, electronics, cosmetics, textiles, information technology, and environmental protection. 

The properties of nanomaterials are not always well characterized, and they require a risk assessment of possible exposures during their manufacture and use.


- Types of Nanotechnology

The different types of nanotechnology are classified according to how they proceed (top-down or bottom-up) and the medium in which they work (dry or wet): 

  • Ascending (bottom-up): You start with a nanostructure - for example, a molecule - and then through an assembly or self-assembly process, you create a larger mechanism than you started with.
  • Dry Nanotechnology: It is used to create structures of coal, silicon, inorganic materials, metals and semiconductors that are not affected by humidity.
  • Wet nanotechnology: It is based on biological systems—including genetic material, membranes, enzymes, and other cellular components—that exist in aqueous environments.


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[Jackson Hole Mountain, Wyoming]

- Classifications of Nanomaterials

Nanomaterials can be roughly classified according to their total number of nanometer sizes:

  • If all three dimensions of a material are nanoscale, it is called a 0D (zero-dimensional) material, often referred to as a nanoparticle.
  • If two dimensions of a material are nanoscale, and the other dimension is much larger (like a string shrinking to a tiny size), then it's a one-dimensional material or "nanotube/nanowire".
  • If only one dimension was nanoscale, then it would be a 2D material—similar to a large but very thin sheet (like a sheet of paper).
  • Finally, a material is not a nanomaterial if it does not have any dimensions small enough to be considered nanoscale. Instead, it should be called "bulk" material, the class we deal with in our daily lives.

Number of Nanoscopic Classification Example
0  Bulk Anything you can see by eye
1  2D  (nanosheet) Graphene 
 1D (nanotube or nanowire) Carbon nanotube
 0D  (nanoparticle) Quantum dot


- Nanotechnology in the Future

The future of nanotechnology has bright spots and dark spots. On the one hand, the industry is expected to grow globally driven by factors such as technological advancements, increased government support, rising private investments, and growing demand for small equipment. 

However, environmental, health and safety risks of nanotechnology and concerns related to its commercialization may hamper market expansion. 



[More to come ...]


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