Nanotechnology 101

It’s a technology that aims at building things on a very ‘small’ scale, and yet can bring about wondrous and ‘big’ developments in the world, particularly in the poor and developing countries; a technology that can rocket us into an era of clean environment, efficient energy consumption, increased manufacturing and productivity, and better health conditions. Welcome to the world of nanotechnology- a field of research and innovation that can revolutionize the world!

Simply stating, nanotechnology is a hybrid science combining engineering and chemistry that is concerned with building ‘things’-generally, materials and devices-on the scale of atoms and molecules. Scientifically, a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter: ten times the diameter of a hydrogen atom!Let’s have a quick insight into how a product can be devised using nanotechnology: atoms and molecules stick together because they have complementary shapes that lock together, or charges that attract. As millions of these atoms are pieced together by nanomachines, a specific product begins to take shape. The goal of nanotechnology is to manipulate atoms individually and place them in a pattern to produce a desired structure.

For this, the scientists must be able to manipulate individual atoms. The next step will be to develop nanoscopic machines, called assemblers, that can be programmed to manipulate atoms and molecules at will. Trillions of assemblers will be needed to develop products in a viable time frame which can be achieved with the help of some nanomachines, called replicators. Assemblers and replicators will work together like hands to automatically construct products, and will eventually replace all traditional labour methods. This will vastly decrease manufacturing costs, thereby making consumer goods plentiful, cheaper and stronger.