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  • Sara Thompson

Nanotechnology for the Future

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

Image credit is User Sureshbup, from Wikimedia Commons

Nanotechnology was first introduced in 1959 by Richard Feynman at a meeting of the American Physical Society. He described the utility of being able to manipulate and move individual atoms, but to do so was beyond the technology of the time. It wasn’t until better microscopy was developed in the mid-1980’s that nanotechnology really began to take off.

A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. For comparison, if a nanometer was a golf ball, the Earth would be a meter. Because we are manipulating materials at almost the atomic scale, scientists can create materials with very specific properties. Scientists can use nanotechnology to make materials stronger, lighter, more or less reactive, better conduct electricity, and more!

Nanotechnology is being researched in many different fields of science. Some are looking at using nanotechnology to create lightweight, bullet proof vests for military. Others are looking at making nanotechnology “smart” fabrics, that could alert a person to any medical or health risks. Engineers are finding ways to use nanotechnology to make vehicles lighter weight and creating fuel savings or creating a coating for machinery to make it waterproof and decrease wear. Also, vehicle related, nanotechnology could help reduce pollutants produced by cars. Some scientists are looking at using nanotechnology to detect and identify micro cracks in oil piping for repair before they begin to leak.

Nanotechnology in use now in some applications. At home nanotechnology is being used to create high-definition displays in computers and televisions. Nanotechnology is already being used in creating smaller computer chips, but with bigger computing capabilities. Environmental scientists are looking at making degreasers and cleaning solutions for pollutants. Energy scientists are making small solar panels, that are flexible, but strong for improved solar use.

Nanotechnology is still in its infancy, but there is almost no limit to what we can achieve with nanotechnology.

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