The use of very small particles in different fields of construction, engineering and industry is used as nanotechnology. Making some alterations in the natural states of molecules to result in favourable qualities also comes under nanotechnology. It is a relatively newer technique of science and has helped us to improve many of the products we have been using for years and solve many problems which people had accepted to live with. Scientists have also pondered upon nanotechnology’s ability to lead to the invention of many new things. Here are 10 such fields which are using the applications of nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology has helped in making the food industry highly personalized. Several traits as per the choice of the consumer, like personalized colour and taste are being given to food items using this technology. Nanotechnology is helping in sensing the bacterial activity on food and is also helping in its longer preservation. Food packaging items that use nanotechnology are extremely smart and have features like repairing tears in themselves, signalling if the food becomes contaminated, releasing preservatives etc. Several nutritional qualities are also being introduced in the food items using nanotechnology.
2. IMPROVING AIR QUALITY
Catalysts are substances that can alter the rate at which a chemical reaction occurs. Filters that treat the fumes from industries and automobiles use catalysts to carry out a faster and more effective filtration. The effectivity of catalysts however, depend on their surface areas. The catalysts in the air filters are treated with nanoparticles to increase their surface area as the catalysts’ particles are larger as compared to nanoparticles. Membranes made out of nanoparticles have such fine pores that they can help remove harmful gases like methane and carbon dioxide from the fumes. However, these methods have still not been tested and implemented on a large scale.
Nanotechnology has brought outstanding improvements in the field of electronics. It has now enabled to make transistors of very small size which in turn will effectively reduce the size of data storing chips without reducing their capabilities. Nanotechnology has also made it possible for wearable devices to be able to sense heart rate and blood oxygen levels and to harness solar energy. It has reduced the time that computers take for booting by the introduction of magnetic random-access memory (MRAM). Several nanomaterials have made electronics more flexible and durable. Televisions today use very small dots to produce high quality images, all thanks to nanotechnology.
4. IMPROVING WATER QUALITY
Not only is nanotechnology proving to be useful in removing contaminants from water, it has also shown promise for effective methods for desalination of water. It has shown its prowess in reducing the harms of oil spills. Water repellent nanoparticles are used to separate oil and water. Scientists have also developed a paper towel out of potassium manganese oxide that can absorb large amount of oil. They are working on nanoparticles that treat the industrial chemicals in water and make them harmless. A membrane made with molybdenum disulphide is very efficient in energy consumption and in its work of desalinating water.
5. SPORTS’ GOODS
Nanotechnology has helped to make sporting goods more comfortable, durable and efficient. Nanotubes that re used in the tennis racquets increase the power and stability while hitting the ball. Tennis balls are also treated with nanoparticles so that they lose air at a slower rate and bounce for a longer time. To improve the swing of a golf shaft, the gaps are filled with nanoparticles. The gliding of skis is made efficient by the use of nanoparticles. Just like a golf club’s gaps are filled, gaps in fishing rods are also filled using nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are used on the bodies of kayaks to make them durable.
Nanotechnology has brought about and is set to bring many more massive changes in the field of energy production and consumption. It is facilitating better extraction of fuels from crude oil by making the catalysts effective. Solar panels have been made out of nanoparticles and are easy to handle as they are thin, like foldable sheets. However, such solar panels aren’t very efficient so far but they are cheap. It has also improved many fuel cells. Batteries have been made using nanotechnology and these batteries charge faster and provide more energy per charge. It is also being implemented in the automobiles so that their engines use the fuel more judiciously.
Several cosmetic items are making use of nanotechnology today. The foremost of these is sunscreen. Oxides of titanium and zinc, which can absorb the ultraviolet radiation are used in sunscreens to protect the skin from these harmful radiations coming from the sun. Liposomes are used, either independently or in combination with other chemicals, in cosmetics for various uses like anti-ageing, skin repair, reducing skin inflammation and the chances of skin cancer etc. Gold nanoparticles are used in face masks and in lotion. A lot of research and development regarding nanoparticles is still in progress in the cosmetics industry.
Nanotechnology is being used to improve the quality of clothes and give them qualities never seen before. Nano fibres have been used in clothes to make them anti-stain and water repellent. Developments are under process on making super stretchable clothes using nanotechnology which will be suitable for a wide range of sizes. Researchers have also been successful in attempts of using nanotechnology to make clothes that can harness energy out of day-to-day movements. Nanotechnology has also been used to make the clothes keep the person warm or cool, depending on the weather outside.
9. CHEMICAL SENSORS
Nanoparticles have some novel chemical and physical properties which lead to them being used as sensors. Primarily used sensors are carbon nanotubes, palladium nanoparticles and the nanowires of zinc oxide. Using these, researchers can now detect the presence of several substances in the air and the soil with high sensitivity. NASA has developed a sensor for firefighters using nanotechnology which helps them know the air quality in the vicinity of fires. Development work is under process on nano chemical sensors that can detect the presence of various chemicals like nitric oxide, dopamine, etc. in the body which in turn is a signal of the underlying medical condition. Nano sensors are also being developed to detect explosives or drugs.
The field of medicine have made several developments that it owes to nanotechnology. As already mentioned, using the sensing abilities of nanoparticles, it has become easier to detect several diseases. Nanoparticles have also made it possible to target the medication to the required part of the body. This has come handy especially in cancer treatment where, by nanotechnology, medication for the removal of cancerous tissue reaches the said tissues, without damaging the healthy tissues around it. Researches are making efforts at using nanotechnology to revolutionize vaccination and carry it out without the use of syringes. They have also made synthetic platelets and antibodies using nanoparticles.