What Is Nanotechnology?
Application of extremely small things.more
Nanoscience and nanotechnology
Can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.more
Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology
Physicist Richard Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules.more
Tailor the structures of materials at extremely small scales
Helping to considerably improve, even revolutionize, many technology and industry sectors.more
Flexible, bendable, foldable, rollable, and stretchable electronics
Soon, phones with foldable screens will no doubt proliferate.more
COVID-19 Vaccine Frontrunners and Their Nanotechnology Design
Nanoparticles and viruses operate at the same size scale; therefore, nanoparticles have an ability to enter cellsmore
The steps that produced the most rapid vaccine rollout in history
The nation’s scientific community also faces another obstacle: convincing the public that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, and how important it is to get a COVID-19 vaccination in the first place. “Even the most effective vaccine can’t protect us or our loved ones if people are afraid to take it or will not take it,” said Kathleen Mullane, director of infectious disease clinical trials at University of Chicago Medicine. “We know things are moving faster than ever, but the nation’s scientific community has cooperated and collaborated in ways as never before and we are absolutely committed to making sure whatever is ultimately approved works and is safe. I am going to get vaccinated and am recommending vaccination for my family and friends because I believe in the safety and efficacy of these agents.” The rapid progress on a COVID-19 vaccine means that data regarding the long-term safety and durability of these vaccines will still be flowing in long after a vaccine has been approved for emergency use. Nevertheless, those wondering about vaccine safety may be encouraged that despite the speed in which these vaccines have been developed, the important regulatory and evaluation checkpoints designed to protect patients were followed. These milestones help to determine how safe and effective a vaccine will be, and whether or not the benefits are worth any potential risks. Operation Warp Speed Before the COVID-19 pandemic, getting a new vaccine from concept to approval could take 10 years and billions of dollars. With only one in 10 vaccine candidates making it to market, vaccine development is a risky proposition for pharmaceutical manufacturers. For those who are unfamiliar with the methodical process of clinical research, the process can feel torturously slow. First, researchers must study the structure and infectious behavior of a pathogen. Then they figure out how to get the human body to best produce an immune response to fight against it. Next, the vaccine is tested for safety and efficacy—first using cell, animal and mathematical models, and later in human clinical trials involving thousands of participants. Only then can the federal approval process begin.
Dozens of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus are being developed by global pharmaceutical companies, but so far only a handful have reached large-scale, phase 3 clinical trials. In phase 3 trials, tens of thousands of volunteers participate to test the safety and effectiveness of the immunization. So far, 11 phase 3 trials have launched globally, although more are expected in the coming months and years as other research efforts move through the pipeline. They’re getting a boost from Operation Warp Speed, a collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government. To offset the cost of the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and to help mobilize approved vaccines as quickly as possible to the American public, the government established nearly $10 billion in federal funds. This has greatly accelerated the timeline for the development of vaccines through clinical trials, FDA review and mass distribution of a vaccine. All of these factors in turn mean that once a vaccine passed critical safety and efficacy milestones and received emergency use approval from the federal government, healthcare organizations were able to start providing the vaccine to patients in a matter of days. For example, the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine was approved for emergency use by the FDA on December 10, 2020; healthcare workers were being vaccinated by December 14. More Information: more
Computer chips from carbon nanotubes, not silicon, mark a milestone
Carbon computingOne issue comes when a network of carbon nanotubes is deposited onto a computer chip wafer. At that point, the tubes tend to bunch into lumps. This prevents the transistor from working. It’s “like trying to build a brick patio, with a giant boulder in the middle of it,” Shulaker says. His team solved that problem. They spread nanotubes on a chip. Then they used vibrations to gently shake unwanted bundles off the layer of nanotubes.
align (noun: alignment) To place or organize things in a patterned order, following an apparent line.
atom The basic unit of a chemical element. Atoms are made up of a dense nucleus that contains positively charged protons and uncharged neutrons. The nucleus is orbited by a cloud of negatively charged electrons.
carbon The chemical element having the atomic number 6. It is the physical basis of all life on Earth. Carbon exists freely as graphite and diamond. It is an important part of coal, limestone and petroleum, and is capable of self-bonding, chemically, to form an enormous number of chemically, biologically and commercially important molecules.
carbon nanotube A billionth-of-a-meter scale, tube-shaped material that is made from carbon. It conducts heat and electricity well.
circuit A network that transmits electrical signals. In the body, nerve cells create circuits that relay electrical signals to the brain. In electronics, wires typically route those signals to activate some mechanical, computational or other function.
colleague Someone who works with another; a co-worker or team member.
component Something that is part of something else (such as pieces that go on an electronic circuit board or ingredients that go into a cookie recipe).
computer chip (also integrated circuit) The computer component that processes and stores information.
conductive Able to carry an electric current.
conductor (in physics and engineering) A material through which an electrical current can flow.
current (in electricity) The flow of electricity or the amount of charge moving through some material over a particular period of time.
data For digital information (the type stored by computers), those data typically are numbers stored in a binary code, portrayed as strings of zeros and ones.
digital (in computer science and engineering) An adjective indicating that something has been developed numerically on a computer or on some other electronic device, based on a binary system (where all numbers are displayed using a series of only zeros and ones).
electrical engineer An engineer who designs, builds or analyzes electrical equipment. electric current A flow of electric charge — electricity — usually from the movement of negatively charged particles, called electrons.
electricity A flow of charge, usually from the movement of negatively charged particles, called electrons. electronics Devices that are powered by electricity but whose properties are controlled by the semiconductors or other circuitry that channel or gate the movement of electric charges.
element A building block of some larger structure. (in chemistry) Each of more than one hundred substances for which the smallest unit of each is a single atom. Examples include hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, lithium and uranium.
encode (adj. encoded) To use some code to mask a message.
engineer A person who uses science to solve problems. As a verb, to engineer means to design a device, material or process that will solve some problem or unmet need.
exponential An adjective that describes things that vary (usually increase) by a factor of at least 10.
insulator A substance or device that does not readily conduct electricity.
materials science The study of how the atomic and molecular structure of a material is related to its overall properties. Materials scientists can design new materials or analyze existing ones. Their analyses of a material’s overall properties (such as density, strength and melting point) can help engineers and other researchers select materials that are best suited to a new application. micrometer (sometimes called a micron) One thousandth of a millimeter, or one millionth of a meter. It’s also equivalent to a few one-hundred-thousandths of an inch.
milestone An important step on the road to stated goal or achievement. The term gets its name from the stone markers that communities used to erect along the side of the road to inform travelers how far they still had to go (in miles) before reaching a town.
nanometer A billionth of a meter. network A group of interconnected people or things. (v.) The act of connecting with other people who work in a given area or do similar thing (such as artists, business leaders or medical-support groups), often by going to gatherings where such people would be expected, and then chatting them up. (n. networking)
parallel An adjective that describes two things that are side by side and have the same distance between their parts. In the word “all,” the final two letters are parallel lines. Or two things, events or processes that have much in common if compared side by side. processor (in computing) Also called a central processing unit, or CPU, it’s a part of the computer that performs numerical calculations or other types of data manipulation. It can also be a type of software, or programming, that translates some other program into a form that can be understood by the computer running it.
prototype A first or early model of some device, system or product that still needs to be perfected. resistance (in physics) Something that keeps a physical material (such as a block of wood, flow of water or air) from moving freely, usually because it provides friction to impede its motion. semiconductor A material that sometimes conducts electricity. Semiconductors are important parts of computer chips and certain new electronic technologies, such as light-emitting diodes.
silicon A nonmetal, semiconducting element used in making electronic circuits. Pure silicon exists in a shiny, dark-gray crystalline form and as a shapeless powder.
technology The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry — or the devices, processes and systems that result from those efforts.
transistor A device that can act like a switch for electrical signals.
Solution for next generation nanochips comes out of thin air
Carbon nanotube transistors make the leap from lab to factory floor
Solution for next generation nanochips comes out of thin air
Nanotechnology News and Information
t2Nano simply creates a digest of information about the latest nanotechnologies and publishes it on the t2Nano.com website. Our enjoyment is to learn and share the most interesting nanotech articles that we can find. Articles about nanotech that will make a difference in most peoples lives. Nanotechnology or nanotech is the use of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale for industrial purposes. It’s hard to imagine just how small nanotechnology is. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or 10-9 of a meter. Here are a few illustrative examples: - There are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch - A sheet of newspaper is about 100,000 nanometers thick - On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth For many decades, nanotechnology has been developed with cooperation from researchers in several fields of studies including physics, chemistry, biology, material science, engineering, and computer science. In this paper, we explore the nanotechnology development community and identify the needs and opportunities of computer science research in nanotechnology. This paper is intended to benefit computer scientists who are keen to contribute their works to the field of nanotechnology and also nanotechnologists from other fields by making them aware of the opportunities from computer science. It is hoped that this may lead to the realisation of our visions. We do research on nanotech and report the findings on a weekly basis. We find the most interesting articles and publish them here. Nanotechnology as defined by size is naturally broad, including fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, energy storage, engineering, microfabrication, and molecular engineering. Manufacture structures at nanometre scale. As conventional methods to miniaturise the size of transistors in silicon microprocessor chips will soon reach its limit and the modification of today’s top-down technology to produce nanoscale structures is difficult and expensive, a new generation of computer components will be required. Feynman (Richard Feynman) and Drexler proposed a new style of technology, which assembles individual atoms or molecules into a refined product. More recently computer science has become involved in nanotechnology. Such research is wide ranging and includes: software engineering, networking, internet security, image processing, virtual reality, humanmachine interface, artificial intelligence, and intelligent systems. Most work focuses on the development of research tools.
Major technology shifts don’t happen overnight; and rarely are they the result of a single breakthrough discovery. Nowhere is this more true than for the vast set of capabilities that we have come to simply call nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is not an industry; nor is it a single technology or a single field of research. What we call nanotechnology consists of sets of enabling technologies applicable to many traditional industries (therefore it is more appropriate to speak of nanotechnologies in the plural). What exactly is nanotechnology? We answer this question in depth in our Introduction to Nanotechnology section
A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. The prefix nano means 'one billionth', or 10-9, in the international system for units of weights and measures. The abbreviation for nanometer is nm. The term nanos comes from the Greek word for dwarf. Also check our metric prefix table and The Scale of Things to see where nano fits in.
Accordingly, in zero-dimensional (0D) nanomaterials all the dimensions are measured within the nanoscale (no dimensions are larger than 100 nm). Most commonly, 0D nanomaterials are nanoparticles. This classification is based on the number of dimensions of a material, which are outside the nanoscale (less than 100 nm) range. In one-dimensional nanomaterials (1D), one dimension is outside the nanoscale. This class includes nanotubes, nanorods, and nanowires. In two-dimensional nanomaterials (2D), two dimensions are outside the nanoscale. This class exhibits plate-like shapes and includes graphene, nanofilms, nanolayers, and nanocoatings. Three-dimensional nanomaterials (3D) are materials that are not confined to the nanoscale in any dimension. This class can contain bulk powders, dispersions of nanoparticles, bundles of nanowires, and nanotubes as well as multi-nanolayers. Classification of nanoscale dimensions. (Source: Tallinn University of Technology)
Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at the nanometer scale, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale. Nanotechnologies involve the design, characterization, production, and application of nanoscale structures, devices, and systems that produces structures, devices, and systems with at least one novel/superior characteristic or property.
In a nutshell: the mechanical rules that govern the nanoworld are quite different from our everyday, macroworld experience. This allows the fabrication of novel materials and applications that otherwise would not be possible. For more details, read our section on what is so special about nanotech and why it is an issue now.
Much of nanoscience and many nanotechnologies is concerned with producing new or enhanced materials. Nanomaterials can be constructed by top down techniques, producing very small structures from larger pieces of material, for example by etching to create circuits on the surface of a silicon microchip. They may also be constructed by bottom up techniques, atom by atom or molecule by molecule. One way of doing this is self-assembly, in which the atoms or molecules arrange themselves into a structure due to their natural properties. Crystals grown for the semiconductor industry provide an example of self assembly, as does chemical synthesis of large molecules. If 50% or more of the constituent particles of a material in the number size distribution have one or more external dimensions in the size range 1 nm to 100 nm, then the material is a nanomaterial. It should be noted that a fraction of 50% with one or more external dimensions between 1 nm and 100 nm in a number size distribution is always less than 50% in any other commonly-used size distribution metric, such as surface area, volume, mass or scattered light intensity. In fact it can be a tiny fraction of the total mass of the material. Even if a product contains nanomaterials, or when it releases nanomaterials during use or ageing, the product itself is not a nanomaterial, unless it is a particulate material itself that meets the criteria of particle size and fraction. The volume specific surface area (VSSA) can be used under specific conditions to indicate that a material is a nanomaterial. VSSA is equal to the sum of the surface areas of all particles divided by the sum of the volumes of all particles. VSSA > 60 m2/cm3 is likely to be a reliable indicator that a material is a nanomaterial unless the particles are porous or have rough surfaces, but many nanomaterials (according to the principal size-based criterion) will have a VSSA of less than 60 m2/cm3. The VSSA > 60 m2/cm3 criterion can therefore only be used to show that a material is a nanomaterial, not vice versa. The VSSA of a sample can be calculated if the particle size distribution and the particle shape(s) are known in detail. The reverse (calculating the size distribution from the VSSA value) is unfeasible. Read our extensive section on nanomaterials for a list of nanomaterials being developed today: films and surfaces; single- and few-layer materials like graphene; nanotubes; nanowires; fullerenes; quantum dots and all kinds of nanoparticles.
Materials engineered to such a small scale are often referred to as engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), which can take on unique optical, magnetic, electrical, and other properties. These emergent properties have the potential for great impacts in electronics, medicine, and other fields. For example, Nanotechnology can be used to design pharmaceuticals that can target specific organs or cells in the body such as cancer cells, and enhance the effectiveness of therapy. Nanomaterials can also be added to cement, cloth and other materials to make them stronger and yet lighter. Their size makes them extremely useful in electronics, and they can also be used in environmental remediation or clean-up to bind with and neutralize toxins. However, while engineered nanomaterials provide great benefits, we know very little about the potential effects on human health and the environment. Even well-known materials, such as silver for example, may pose a hazard when engineered to nano size. Nano-sized particles can enter the human body through inhalation and ingestion and through the skin. Fibrous nanomaterials made of carbon have been shown to induce inflammation in the lungs in ways that are similar to Asbestos .
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the worst pandemic disease of the current millennium. This disease is caused by the highly contagious severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which first exhibited human-to-human transmission in December 2019 and has infected millions of people within months across 213 different countries. Its ability to be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers has put a massive strain on the currently available testing resources. Currently, there are no clinically proven therapeutic methods that clearly inhibit the effects of this virus, and COVID-19 vaccines are still in the development phase. Strategies need to be explored to expand testing capacities, to develop effective therapeutics, and to develop safe vaccines that provide lasting immunity. Nanoparticles (NPs) have been widely used in many medical applications, such as biosensing, drug delivery, imaging, and antimicrobial treatment. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus with particle-like characteristics and a diameter of 60–140 nm. Synthetic NPs can closely mimic the virus and interact strongly with its proteins due to their morphological similarities. Hence, NP-based strategies for tackling this virus have immense potential. NPs have been previously found to be effective tools against many viruses, especially against those from the Coronaviridae family. This Review outlines the role of NPs in diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccination for the other two epidemic coronaviruses, the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus and the 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus. We also highlight nanomaterial-based approaches to address other coronaviruses, such as human coronaviruses (HCoVs); feline coronavirus (FCoV); avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV); coronavirus models, such as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), and transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV); and other viruses that share similarities with SARS-CoV-2. This Review combines the salient principles from previous antiviral studies with recent research conducted on SARS-CoV-2 to outline NP-based strategies that can be used to combat COVID-19 and similar pandemics in the future.
t2Nano simply creates a digest of information about the latest nanotechnologies and publishes it own the t2Nano.com website. Our enjoyment is to learn and share the moet interesting nanotech articles that we can find. Articles that are now and in the future will make a difference in most peoples lives.
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In December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office in China was first alerted to an unknown outbreak of contagious and often severe lower respiratory illnesses originating from the city of Wuhan, the biggest city in and capital of China’s Hubei province. (1) The cause of the respiratory illness is a virus of the betacoronavirus class now termed coronavirus infectious disease-19 (COVID-19). The virus was named SARS-CoV-2 due to its genetic and structural similarity with SARS-CoV.(1,2) On March 11, 2020, the WHO officially identified SARS-CoV-2 as a pandemic due to its quick global spread.(1) As of August 11, 2020, there are 19,936,210 confirmed cases worldwide and 732,499 deaths due to SARS-CoV-2.(3) The continued rise of both cases and deaths necessitates the rapid development of an effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The second wave happening in some countries that have reopened their economies further accentuates this need.(4,5) While masking, social distancing, and contact tracing can slow the spread of this virus, it appears too infectious to be eliminated by these strategies, and a vaccine is essential to enable a return to normal human social interaction. Fortunately, in the relatively few months since SARS CoV-2 was identified as the cause of COVID-19, over two hundred academic laboratories and companies have undertaken vaccine development, and many are making record time in advancing to clinical trials (Table S1).(6,7) Moderna reached clinical trials 63 days after their sequence selection.(8) It is striking that an unestablished nanotechnology formulation reached clinical testing almost a full month before established approaches (i.e., inactivated and live-attenuated vaccines) entered clinical trials.(9,10) This highlights the opportunity for less developed technology platforms in vaccine development and, if proven successful, may enable a more rapid response to future emergent infectious diseases. It is also of note that in previous severe coronavirus outbreaks of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV clinical trials were not reached until 25 and 22 months after the outbreaks began.(11) Older severe infectious disease outbreaks such as Dengue and Chikungunya did not reach clinical trials until 52 and 19 years after the outbreak.(11) The improved speed into clinical trials is hopeful, but despite the rapid progress, there are still reasons for concern. Vaccine development takes time as the vaccines must not only be protective but also safe. Unlike other drugs that are delivered into sick patients, vaccines are administered into healthy patients and require very high safety margins.(12) Therefore, the population should be carefully monitored if vaccine candidates are widely administered based on Emergency Use Authorization. This is especially vital as for past respiratory diseases such as SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, respiratory syncytial virus, and measles it had been shown that antibodies can exacerbate disease severity through antibody-dependent enhancement.(13) Many of the vaccines that are frontrunners are preclinical nanotechnologies and have not been proven in clinical settings. For instance, mRNA vaccines have been in development and clinical testing for the past 30 years, but the technology has not been previously approved.(14) The platform technology offers speed and adaptability, so these vaccine candidates can be rapidly developed by repurposing previously developed nanostructures as shown by Moderna.(15) Likewise, Novavax’s vaccine is also modeled off of their previous vaccine against influenza.(16) Even so, the vaccines must be rigorously tested for safety before widespread vaccination can occur, which Moderna and Novavax have accomplished through their Phase I studies.(17,18) Beyond Moderna and Novavax, several other companies have moved beyond their safety and immunogenicity Phase I and II clinical studies and have released pertinent data corresponding to these trials.(17,19−23) This review analyzes these posted results and highlights the nanotechnological aspects of the vaccines from these leading companies as well as summarizes the potential of other rapidly developed vaccines in clinical trials.
Nanotechnology has greatly contributed to major advances in computing and electronics, leading to faster, smaller, and more portable systems that can manage and store larger and larger amounts of information. These continuously evolving applications include: Transistors, the basic switches that enable all modern computing, have gotten smaller and smaller through nanotechnology. At the turn of the century, a typical transistor was 130 to 250 nanometers in size. In 2014, Intel created a 14 nanometer transistor, then IBM created the first seven nanometer transistor in 2015, and then Lawrence Berkeley National Lab demonstrated a one nanometer transistor in 2016! Smaller, faster, and better transistors may mean that soon your computer’s entire memory may be stored on a single tiny chip. Using magnetic random access memory (MRAM), computers will be able to “boot” almost instantly. MRAM is enabled by nanometer‐scale magnetic tunnel junctions and can quickly and effectively save data during a system shutdown or enable resume‐play features. Ultra-high definition displays and televisions are now being sold that use quantum dots to produce more vibrant colors while being more energy efficient. Scientists in protective clothing hold up IBM's 7 nm chip wafer SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering's Michael Liehr, left, and IBM's Bala Haranand display a wafer comprised of 7nm chips in a NFX clean room in Albany, New York. (Image courtesy of IBM.) --- Flexible, bendable, foldable, rollable, and stretchable electronics are reaching into various sectors and are being integrated into a variety of products, including wearables, medical applications, aerospace applications, and the Internet of Things. Flexible electronics have been developed using, for example, semiconductor nanomembranes for applications in smartphone and e-reader displays. Other nanomaterials like graphene and cellulosic nanomaterials are being used for various types of flexible electronics to enable wearable and “tattoo” sensors, photovoltaics that can be sewn onto clothing, and electronic paper that can be rolled up. Making flat, flexible, lightweight, non-brittle, highly efficient electronics opens the door to countless smart products. Other computing and electronic products include Flash memory chips for smart phones and thumb drives; ultra-responsive hearing aids; antimicrobial/antibacterial coatings on keyboards and cell phone casings; conductive inks for printed electronics for RFID/smart cards/smart packaging; and flexible displays for e-book readers. Nanoparticle copper suspensions have been developed as a safer, cheaper, and more reliable alternative to lead-based solder and other hazardous materials commonly used to fuse electronics in the assembly process. --- Nanotechnology uses practical applications of nanomaterials to find high-tech solutions to some of the “real world’s” most long-standing concerns in a wide variety of fields. For example, nanotechnology is forecasted to radically change the way medicine is practiced, improving medical devices and drug delivery methods enabling fully personalized diagnosis and treatment; to give rise to truly green and sustainable energy generation and storage; to ensure worldwide access to a safe, disease-free, desalinated water supply through high-volume, portable nanotech filtration systems; and to dramatically improve homeland security and military surveillance operations. In the near future, nanotechnology will have a direct impact on our lives, independent of our location, career, or social position. What can you do? Simple: Learn more about nanotechnology through our programs. Make a positive impact for the future of our country, get involved with us now!
Nanotechnology is enabled by very tiny materials called nanomaterials and are already inside many of the products we use every day. Nanomaterials and their applications are still being discovered and there are endless possibilities for a new generation of STEM professionals. Nanotechnology is a field of “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) based on the study and use of very tiny materials, called nanomaterials, many of which have only just been developed in the past 15 years. These continuously evolving applications include: Transistors, the basic switches that enable all modern computing, have gotten smaller and smaller through nanotechnology. At the turn of the century, a typical transistor was 130 to 250 nanometers in size. In 2014, Intel created a 14 nanometer transistor, then IBM created the first seven nanometer transistor in 2015, and then Lawrence Berkeley National Lab demonstrated a one nanometer transistor in 2016! Smaller, faster, and better transistors may mean that soon your computer’s entire memory may be stored on a single tiny chip. Using magnetic random access memory (MRAM), computers will be able to “boot” almost instantly. MRAM is enabled by nanometer‐scale magnetic tunnel junctions and can quickly and effectively save data during a system shutdown or enable resume‐play features. Ultra-high definition displays and televisions are now being sold that use quantum dots to produce more vibrant colors while being more energy efficient. Scientists in protective clothing hold up IBM's 7 nm chip wafer SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering's Michael Liehr, left, and IBM's Bala Haranand display a wafer comprised of 7nm chips in a NFX clean room in Albany, New York. (Image courtesy of IBM.) --- Flexible, bendable, foldable, rollable, and stretchable electronics are reaching into various sectors and are being integrated into a variety of products, including wearables, medical applications, aerospace applications, and the Internet of Things. Flexible electronics have been developed using, for example, semiconductor nanomembranes for applications in smartphone and e-reader displays. Other nanomaterials like graphene and cellulosic nanomaterials are being used for various types of flexible electronics to enable wearable and “tattoo” sensors, photovoltaics that can be sewn onto clothing, and electronic paper that can be rolled up. Making flat, flexible, lightweight, non-brittle, highly efficient electronics opens the door to countless smart products. Other computing and electronic products include Flash memory chips for smart phones and thumb drives; ultra-responsive hearing aids; antimicrobial/antibacterial coatings on keyboards and cell phone casings; conductive inks for printed electronics for RFID/smart cards/smart packaging; and flexible displays for e-book readers. Nanoparticle copper suspensions have been developed as a safer, cheaper, and more reliable alternative to lead-based solder and other hazardous materials commonly used to fuse electronics in the assembly process.
Nanotechnology has greatly contributed to major advances in computing and electronics, leading to faster, smaller, and more portable systems that can manage and store larger and larger amounts of information. --- But connecting people and discoveries in the twenty-first century will be complicated by the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of research in general, and nanoscience and nanotechnology in particular. Who invented and/or discovered nanotechnology? In The Nanotech Pioneers, science writer and biologist Steven Edwards takes us behind the scenes for a closer look at the visionaries in the field, the fundamental concepts involved, the prospects for commercialization and the potential dangers of this all encompassing technology. It is generally acknowledged that the term nanotechnology was first used by the late Professor Norio Taniguchi of the Tokyo Science University in a paper, “On the Basic Concept of 'Nanotechnology'”, presented at a meeting of the Japan Society of Precision Engineering in 1974. In this paper, Taniguchi states that “Nano-technology mainly consists of the processing of separation, consolidation and deformation of materials by one atom or one molecule”. Edwards takes us back to Richard Feynman's famous 1959 lecture, “There's plenty of room at the bottom”, which challenged engineers to write “the entire 24 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the head of a pin”, inspiring a number of 'top-down' approaches to miniaturization; and forward to a highly imaginative paper by K. Eric Drexler, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology trained engineer, in which he proposed building machines by a 'bottom-up' approach that used 'molecular assemblers' to manipulate individual atoms (Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 78, 5275–5278; 1981). The possibility of using molecular self-assembly to make functional nanoscale systems was a sign of things to come, including the need for a multidisciplinary approach to many problems. Some venture capital companies are developing tools called nanomanipulators to build Drexler's molecular assemblers, although nanorobots are a long way off. Hardened engineers with a diminutive appetite for the politics of science will be intrigued by Edwards' description of Mike Roco's role in setting up the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the US. Roco's own research on nanoparticles convinced him of the need for a national effort to tackle problems at the nanoscale, and in 1996 he formed a think-tank consisting of academics, industrialists and scientists from various US laboratories to formulate a national strategy for nanotechnology. In March 1999, Roco was given his 'ten minutes of fame' to make a pitch to President Clinton's advisors. He succeeded — his proposal received $490 million (only $10 million less than he asked for), the Initiative was formally announced in January 2000, and the rest is history. Edwards also addresses the major issues, imagined or otherwise, about the potential dangers of nanotechnology, including: environmental catastrophe due to self-replication of 'nanomachines'; inhalation and ingestion of nanoparticles; claims that only wealthy groups will benefit; the possibility of creating weapons of mass destruction; and fears that advances in technology might become uncontrollable (the 'singularity' idea first put forward by John von Neumann). Government regulation and potential applications as diverse as energy storage and generation, 'space elevators' and quantum computing are all discussed. Moreover, the explanations of these ideas — and others like spintronics, nanomedicine, molecular biology, scanning probe microscopy and more — are clear and should be readily comprehensible to a general readership. This book also highlights the recent changes in attitudes of scientists and engineers towards multidisciplinary research, with groups of physicists, chemists, materials scientists, biologists, engineers, IT researchers, metrologists and others all joining forces for a common cause. There are, however, some blind spots in the book, notably about nanotechnology in Asia. The carbon nanotube was discovered by Sumio Iijima at NEC in 1991, as Edwards reports, but what do Iijima and NEC think about the future of nanotubes? How will China's increasing investments in science and technology affect nanotechnology in the US and EU? And what impact will the increasing mobility of research and researchers have? It is worth noting that although the fundamental ideas leading to the invention of the transistor and integrated circuits were conceived in US laboratories, it is most unlikely that they would have had such an impact on our lives had it not been for Japanese engineers and companies. Edwards hints at the need to take a step back when contemplating the wonders of nanotechnology. “There is something god-like about manipulating matter at its most basic level,” he writes, “a certain amount of heady grandiosity, much of it warranted, can be perceived in some of the statements of the Nanotech Pioneers”. Maybe, but in the era of convergence and multidisciplinary research, simply identifying the real pioneers will be a challenge.
The many breakthroughs in science and engineering made during the last century are well documented and there is a general consensus about who discovered what. It is widely agreed, for instance, that William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain invented the first transistor in 1947. Such inventions and discoveries were based on research conducted by individuals or groups from similar technical backgrounds, and there was little cross-fertilization of ideas between the sciences. Matching people to inventions was easy in the twentieth century. --- Indeed, by breaking down a ‘bulk’ material into nanosized particles you can often change many of its properties. By controlling the manner in which nanometre-scale molecular structures are formed, it is possible to control the fundamental properties of the materials these molecules build: properties such as colour, electrical conductivity, melting temperature, hardness, crack resistance and strength. This is quite amazing when you consider that we are not changing the chemical composition or the crystal structure of the substance. We’re not adding a red pigment to the gold, just working with it in much smaller pieces. The physical and chemical properties change because we’re opening up and exposing more of the material’s surface area. When particle sizes are reduced to the nanoscale, the ratio of surface area to volume increases dramatically. Since many important chemical reactions―including those involving catalysts―occur at surfaces, it is not too surprising that very small particles are staggeringly reactive. This is one of the reasons that chemists are very excited about nanoscience―if they can make more surface area, they can get more catalytic action, with the potential to speed up almost all physical and manufacturing processes, while increasing the resource and energy efficiency of those processes and products. Quantum properties also come into effect at nanoscale. Classical physics can’t explain why materials change colour when they change size—we need quantum mechanics to understand it.That is why nanoparticles are sometimes called as quantum dots GLOSSARY quantum dots (QD) are crystalline nanoparticles of semiconductor materials ranges from 2–10 nm in diameter.
One of the most exciting elements of operating in the nanoworld is that things behave differently when you go ultra-small. Essentially, the physical and chemical properties of matter change. Consider a lump of gold, yellowy in colour. If you were to break that lump into nanosized chunks, the gold would change colour depending on the size of the chunks. In the 10 to 100 nanometre range it can appear reddish (as well as orange, purple or green depending on the size or shape of the particle). Gold is also a catalyst when in this size regime but chemically inert at the micro/macro scale.