Ingenuity and The Reach of Nanotechnology

Ingenuity and The Reach of Nanotechnology

“Ingenuity is the quality of being clever, original, and inventive, often in the process of applying ideas to solve problems or meet challenges.”

The  reach of Nanotechnology:

Nanotechnology is a field of research and innovation concerned with building  materials and devices  on the scale of atoms and molecules. Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at the nanometer scale, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Nanotechnology  lowers costs, produces stronger and lighter wind turbines, improves fuel efficiency and, thanks to the thermal insulation of some nanocomponents, can save energy. Encompassing nanoscale science, nanomaterials in the medical diagnostic field and treatment of disease, in engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at an infinitesimal small matter.  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

One of the most fascinating aspects of nanotechnology is the incredibly small scale at which nanoengineering and nanofabrication take place.  The first working transistor, built by Bell Labs’ John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley in 1947, measured roughly 1 centimeter across. Today, logic transistor density has surpassed a staggering 100 million transistors per square millimeter.  Chemists and biologists have dealt with naturally occurring nanoparticles all along, such as molecules or viruses. Toxicologists have dealt with nanoparticles that are the result of modern human life such as carbon particles in combustion engine exhaust. Tire manufacturers used nanoparticles (carbon black) to improve the performance of tires as early as the 1920s. Medieval artists used (unknowingly) gold nanoparticles to achieve the bright red colors in church windows.

The ongoing quest for miniaturization has resulted in tools like the atomic force microscope and the scanning tunneling microscope. Combined with refined processes such as electron beam lithography, these instruments allow researchers to deliberately manipulate and manufacture nanostructures. The average person already encounters and benefits from the nanotechnology in a range of everyday consumer products – nanoparticles of silver are used to deliver antimicrobial properties in hand washes, bandages, and socks, and zinc or titanium nanoparticles are the active UV-protective elements in modern sunscreens.

Applications of nanobiotechnology:

1) Medicine:

Nanotechnology in medicine encompasses disease diagnosis, target-specific drug delivery, and molecular imaging, exploiting miniaturization and integration. While conventional electronics have already found many applications in biomedicine – medical monitoring of vital signals, biophysical studies of excitable tissues, implantable electrodes for brain stimulation, pacemakers, and limb stimulation – the use of nanomaterials and nanoscale applications brings a step further towards implanted miniaturized electronics in the human body.

The development of nanobioelectronic system could stimulate enzyme activity or the electrically triggered drug release from smart nanomembranes; an artificial retina for color vision; nanomaterial-based breathalyzers as diagnostic tools; nanogenerators to power self-sustained biosystems and implants;  future bio-nanotechnology  might even use computer chips inside living cells. At the brain level,  the use of a carbon nanotube rope could electrically stimulates neural stem cells in the repair of brain cell damage  and other advances in fabricating nanomaterial-neural interfaces for signal generation.

Cutting-edge research is looking at new material to make bone implant or graft by treating nanocrystals derived from plan cellulose so they can link and form a sponge like an aerogel that can fill out bone cavity as needed. Considering that most bone implants, alive tissue from patient’s own bone, or synthetic, are hard, made of non-absorbable material, and do not fill appropriately wholes and bone gap, leading to poor growth of bone and failure. Cellulose nanocrystal aerogel has a tremendous potential to conform to the needed area, to support bone growth and should be able to break-down into non-toxic components as the bone grows. It will revolutionize orthopedic traumatic surgery, be soldiers or civil people and our older population in need of reconstructive surgery.

At cellular level, functionally integrating DNA and other nucleic acids with nanoparticles in all their different physicochemical forms has produced a rich variety of composite nanomaterials which display unique or augmented properties due to the synergistic activity of both components. Researchers have fabricated a DNA impedance biosensor for the early detection of cancer or the rapid detection of the flu virus.

These capabilities, in turn, are attracting greater attention from various research communities in search of new nanoscale tools for diverse applications that include bio-sensing, labeling, targeted imaging, cellular delivery, diagnostics, therapeutics,  bioelectronics, and biocomputing to name just a few amongst many others.

Therefore, nanomedicine has already multiple applications in the comprehensive monitoring, control, construction, repair, defense, and improvement of all human biological systems, in the technology of diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease and traumatic injury, of relieving pain, and of preserving and improving human health, using molecular tools and molecular knowledge of the human body, to maintain and improve human health at the molecular scale.

2) Food Industry:

The development of nanotechnology in food and agriculture has led to nanobiotechnology applications in that include pesticide delivery systems through bioactive nanoencapsulation; biosensors to detect and quantify pathogens; organic compounds; other chemicals and food composition alteration; high-performance sensors (electronic tongue and nose); and edible thin films to preserve fruits.

Nanotechnology will give food technologists a whole new set of tools to go to new extremes in the growth, development of the food chain, the modification of food genetic and even animal growth.

Detection of foodborne illnesses will be enhanced by nanotechnology that offers the opportunity for alternative sensor platforms for the rapid, sensitive, reliable and simple isolation and detection of E. coli and other pathogens. Nanotechnology enabled detection techniques include detections by luminescence using quantum dots; localized surface plasmon resonance of metallic nanoparticles; enhanced fluorescence; dye immobilized nanoparticles.

3) Nanoengineering:

Nanoelectronic  technology has already shown its applications in semi-conductor, in chips production, in all computerized technology and more. These components are  a few nanometers in size and are used in a diverse set of devices and materials, with the common characteristic that they are so small that physical effects alter the materials ‘properties on a nanoscale. Display technologies can be grouped into three broad technology areas; Organic LEDs, electronic paper and other devices intended to show still images, and Field Emission Displays. Nanomaterials and nanofabrication techniques play a role in all of them.

Cryptonumerics and nanotechnology  will help protecting the privacy of sensitive data, even more important with the cyberattack that the world is recently seeing . Data is power and  need to remain as private as possible and be protected from “cyberattack”. Innovative software solutions are being developed to enable any organizations to extract the needed data while protecting the information.

Aeroscience nanotechnology is helping companies to conduct thorough inspections of complex structures such as pipelines, wind turbine, hydroelectric power grid and more. Buildings, power lines, wind turbines, solar panels and other forms of infrastructure need to be inspected on a regular basis. It can be dangerous carried out by people, costly and inefficient. Drones are flying computers equipped with cameras and sensors so they can be used in areas difficult of access, complex  structures for inspection  and assessment without placing people at risk. Computer software programs are being developed to look at repair and optimization strategies.

Nanocoating refers to nanoscale (i.e. with a thickness of a few tens to a few hundreds of nanometers) thin-films that are applied to surfaces in order create or improve a material’s functionalities such as corrosion protection, water and ice protection, friction reduction, antifouling and antibacterial properties, self-cleaning, heat and radiation resistance, and thermal management.

Nanocoating offers significant benefits for applications in the aerospace, defense, medical, marine, and oil industries, have driven manufacturers to incorporate multi-functional coatings in their products. For instance, new cars and trucks have nanocoating in their windshield providing different functions.

Nanosensors have been developed for the detection of gases, chemical and biochemical variables, as well as physical variables and the detection electromagnetic radiation a sensing device with at least one of its dimensions being smaller than 100 nm and for the purpose of collecting information on the nanoscale and transferring it into data for analysis. Nanosensors are not necessarily reduced in size to the nanoscale, but could be larger devices that make use of the unique properties of nanomaterials to detect and measure events at the nanoscale. Nanotechnology in Space will play an important role in future space missions. Nanosensors, dramatically improved high-performance materials, or highly efficient propulsion systems are but a few examples.

Nanotechnologies provide the potential to enhance energy efficiency across all branches of industry and to economically leverage renewable energy production through new technological solutions and optimized production technologies. Nanotechnology innovations could impact each part of the value-added chain in the energy sector: energy sources; energy conversion; energy distribution; energy storage; and energy usage. Nanotechnological products, processes and applications are expected to contribute significantly to environmental and climate protection by saving raw materials, energy and water as well as by reducing greenhouse gases and hazardous wastes. Using nanomaterials therefore promises certain environmental benefits and sustainability effects.

The automotive sector is a major consumer of material technologies – and nanotechnologies promise to improve the performance of existing technologies significantly. Applications range from already existing – paint quality, fuel cells, batteries, wear-resistant tires, lighter but stronger materials, ultra-thin anti-glare layers for windows and mirrors – to the futuristic – energy-harvesting bodywork, fully self-repairing paint, switchable colors, shape-shifting skin. With the development of the electric car industry, Graphene batteries have proven useful for different types of batteries – redox flow, metal–air, lithium–sulfur, lithium-metal and, more importantly, lithium-ion batteries. Since graphene can be chemically processed into various forms suitable for both the positive and negative electrodes, this enables the fabrication of all-graphene batteries with ultrahigh energy density, a very important feature for the new car electric battery.

Nanotechnology has a significant impact in the construction sector. Several applications have been developed for this specific sector to improve the durability and enhanced performance of construction components, energy efficiency and safety of the buildings, facilitating the ease of maintenance and to provide increased living comfort.

Nanoengineering of cement-based materials can result in outstanding or smart properties. Introduction of nanotechnology in the cement industry has the potential to address some of the challenges such as CO2 emissions, poor crack resistance, long curing time, low tensile strength, high water absorption, low ductility and many other mechanical performances.

4) Consumer Industry:

In the near future, using nanomaterials in furniture may lead to a reduced need for adhesives and functional textiles. Expect to see “smart” furniture – furniture that heats itself when it’s cold; becomes opaque when the sun is shining intensely; changes color upon demand; measures core body functions; has antibacterial coatings that get activated on contact or self-healing coatings to repair scratches and minor damage; has embedded electronics that for instance signals you when you run out of food supplies; or includes shape memory alloys that change their shape.

The applications of nanotechnology and nanomaterials can be found in many cosmetic products including moisturisers, hair care products, make up and sunscreen.

Nanaotechnology is a game changer in sports equipment. It offers a number of advantages and immense potential to improve sporting equipment making athletes safer, comfortable and more agile than ever. Embedded into clothing will be graphene nanoplatelets, microscopic sensors providing real-time performance analytics by monitoring heart rate, body temperature and hydration.  Baseball bats, tennis and badminton racquets, hockey sticks, racing bicycles, golf balls/clubs, skis, fly-fishing rods, archery arrows, etc. are some of the sporting equipment, whose performance and durability are being improved with the help of nanotechnology. But a further application is the use of these micro-sensors in an military body suit or armor that could detect biological or radiological warfare hazards, as well as stretchable sensor using piezo-resistivity to assess material performance and strain, quite useful for soldiers composite fabrics wear, but also industries such as automotive, aerospace and marine manufacturing.

5) Climate change technology:

Smart technology  with the use of nanotechnology, will be available to monitor, detect and diagnose some problems encountered in environment, cities, hospitals, breathalizers. Micro-fluidic technology will be targeting molecular and ketone indicators, from bacteria and viruses and new biosensor devices will use microwave signals to track real time the amount of bacteria and/or viruses present in a clinical environment such as a hospital or a laboratory. These devices, micro-sensors,  will be able to provide real-time monitoring and detection solutions for environment, health care and other areas. By helping clinicians to have early detection of microbes in the environment, can lead to saving life.

New ways of recycling CO2 are being developed from creating value with greenhouse gases, and perhaps environmental gases from farms. Nanotechnology uses electricity and computerized microprocessor to convert greenhouse gases into valuable chemicals and fuels. Waste of any sorts is a contributing to climate change, particularly plastic waste. Novel methods are being developed to transform discarded plastic into nanotechnic components that are both light weight and strong, involving only heat and pressurized air, a nearly waste-free process.

Waste water and energy-efficient of waste treatment is changing in the agro-industrial sector. To reduce the contamination and extract value from the trillions of fruits and vegetables that are thrown away every year, microbial fuel nano-cells are being explored to optimize biological systems. These cells will enable fruit and vegetable farms to not only transform agricultural waste into clean, soil- enriching biosolids, but also harness the chemical energy present in discarded fruit, vegetables and winery wastewater.

Gas sensing technology is being added to a wide range of applications, such as environmental monitoring, food and beverage and biological chemical quality analytical systems. These sensors may allow diabetic people to monitor  their glucose level  by detecting ketone in their breath.

Environmental design and going green is reflected in the broader societal development of buildings and houses based on a green design. As our cities grow and the need for a sustainable design becomes more urgent, buildings and houses are more and more conceived on their energy used, their energy re-generation, their ecological foot print and their effect of cultural communities, and their contribution to sustainable patterns of living.

6) Artificial intelligence:

The human interface is the complex link posing significant challenges when trying to integrade artificial intelligence with brain computerized technology such as functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and other sophisticated nanotechnology. Implanted sophisticated computerized micro devices will become available as researchers are analyzing inflammation and scar tissue that can encapsulate this devices and rendered them less useful over time. Current work is about matching the mechanical properties of implants with the spongey brain tissue. It seems sci-fi but it is just around the corner.  To a similar application, neurological disorders affect many people. These disorders could be due to an array of reasons, such as bad connections due to congenital disorders, due to post traumatic stress, due to stroke, due to Alzheimer and others. The goal of engineering neuroplasticity is to delete or weaken the bad connections and induce new good ones, moving toward neurorehabilitation. One essential element is interdisciplinary expertise that spans multiple areas, including neuroscience, neuroanatomy, materials and nanotechnology, immunology and engineering. With such a mix of experience, biocompatible structures will be realized for futuristic applications.

 

Summary:

Today’s scientists and researchers are engaging not only with issues on a pure theoretical level, but tackling every day, practical real-life problems, where success could mean improving people’s lives on a global basis, be it in healthcare, pharmaceutical, engineering, new housing models, renewable energy, or nanocomposites to address vital questions.  Engineers are finding a wide variety of ways to make new materials at the nanoscale to take advantage of their enhanced properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of light spectrum, better electrical conductors and greater chemical reactivity. Nanotechnology is helping to considerably improve, even revolutionize, many technology and industry sectors: information technology, homeland security, medicine, transportation, energy, food safety, and environmental science, among many others. Nanobiotechnology is the biology-based, application-oriented frontier area of research in the hybrid discipline of Nanoscience and biotechnology.

 

References:

E.J. Petersen, G.G. Goss, F. von der Kammer, et all, New guidance brings clarity to environmental hazard and behaviour testing of nanomaterials. Nature Nanotechnology, (2021), vol. 16, pages 482-486

L.E. Friedersdorf, R. Bjorkland, R. D. Klaper, et al, Fifteen years of Nano-EHS research advances science and fosters a vibrant community. Nature Nanotechnology, (2019), vol. 14, pages 996-998

C.J. Murphy, A.M.Vartanian, F.M. Geiger, et al, Biological Responses to Engineered Nanomaterials: Needs for the Next Decade. ACS Cent. Sci. (2015), vol. 1, 3, pages 117-123.

N. Bertrand, J. Wu,  X. Xu, N.  Kamaly, et al, Cancer nanotechnology: the impact of passive and active targeting in the era of modern cancer biology.  Adv. Drug Delivery Rev. (2014), 66,  pages 2– 25

X. Huang,  E.H. El-Sayed, W.  Qian, et al, Cancer cell imaging and photothermal therapy in the near-infrared region by using gold nanorods J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2006), 128, pages 2115– 2120

J.R. McCarthy, R.  Weissleder,  Multifunctional magnetic nanoparticles for targeted imaging and therapy , Adv. Drug Delivery Rev. (2008), 60, pages 1241– 1251

S. Jain, D.G.  Hirst, J.M. O’Sullivan,  Gold nanoparticles as novel agents for cancer therapy,  Br. J. Radiol. (2012), 85,

M. Khin, S.A.  Nair, V.J. Babu, et al,  A review on nanomaterials for environmental remediation, Energy Environ. Sci. (2012), 5, pages 8075– 8109

L. Liu, J. Wu, J. Gao, et al,  BacteriaDerived Nanoparticles: Multifunctional Containers for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications, Advanced Healthcare Materials, (2020), vol.9, pages 22-25

S. Stanley, Biological nanoparticles and their influence on organisms, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, (2013) 28, pages 69-74

V.K.Varadan, A.S.Pillai, D. Mukherji, et al, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Engineering, (2010), pages 324-329

H. Mahfuzn, V. Dhanak, Nanoparticle Reinforced Composites for Structural Applications, (2013), pages 250-255

O. Adir, M. Poley, G. Chen, et al, Integrating Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology for Precision Cancer Medicine , Adv. Mater. (2019), 190

G.A.Silva, A New Frontier: The Convergence of Nanotechnology, Brain Machine Interfaces, and Artificial Intelligence, a review article, Front.      Neurosci., (Nov. 16, 2018)

G.A.Silva, Nanotechnology, risk and the environment: a review.  J. Environ. Monit., (2008), 10, pages 291–300

S. Mishra, C. Keswani, P.C. Abhilash, Integrated Approach of Agri- nanotechnology: Challenges and Future Trends, Front. Plant Sci., (April  4th, 2017)

T. Harifi, M. Montazer, Application of nanotechnology in sports clothing and flooring for enhanced sport activities, performance, efficiency and comfort: a review.  Journal of industrial textile, (Aug. 19, 2015)

H. Sun, Grand Challenges in Environmental Nanotechnology, Nanotechnol, (Dec.20, 2019), A Review Article.

P. Pandey, Role of Nanotechnology in Electronics: A Review of Recent Developments and Patents, (Jan. 19, 2021)

P. Krstic, E. Forzani, N. Tao, A. Korkin , Design and Function of Molecular and Bioelectronics Devices, Nanotechnology, (Oct 24,2007), 18 (42)

M. Sharon, A. Silvestre Lopez,  R. Chetna, et al, Nanotechnology in the Defense Industry,  Advances, Innovation, and Practical Applications (2019), Scrivener Publishing LLC.