What is Nanotechnology?

(This answer is taken from my book Innovate the Next: Success Frameworks to Innovating Products in Any Revolution). Nanotechnology is concerned with building things, materials and devices, to the same scale as atoms and molecules.

Above, I gave the example of the sizes of transistors decreasing from micrometres to nanometres. That is nanotech innovation.

A nanometre is one-billionth of a metre. Nanotechnology is the ability to zoom into particles (one-billionth of a metre) and examine and manipulate them on atomic and molecular levels.

Most glues lose their adhesiveness when exposed to high temperatures. Nanotechnology has enabled the study of adhesives (imagine the zoom capability), and thus triggered the innovation of nano-glue. It uses molecular chains to bond surfaces together even at high temperatures; in fact adhesion gets even stronger at higher temperatures.

Remember molecules are a combination of atoms. To give a glimpse into the size of an atom, Wikipedia says (measured in atom radius) ‘under most definitions the radii of isolated neutral atoms range between 30 and 300 picometres (trillionths of a metre).’

This is at the level at which nanotechnology operates to manipulate matter. In the example above, the scientists were able to manipulate the atoms of glue to a point where it became stickier when exposed to higher temperatures.

To use another illustration; humans are made up of cells, and are estimated to be composed of about 30 trillion cells. It is an unimaginable number.

Laser technology and nanotechnology combined is called Nanolaser technology. Nanolasers can laser check a drop of blood to determine if a patient will be resistant to certain drugs, e.g. cancer drugs.

Remember, blood is made up of cells and cells are made up of molecules.

Nanotechnology is used in a variety of fields we might not realise, e.g. sunscreens, fabric (that doesn’t wrinkle), tennis balls and protective paint coatings for cars (against bird poop; bird poop is harmful to the paintwork of most cars), etc.

Nanotechnology is being converged with other innovations like quantum computing. You will see below.

Basically, if you can view any kind of material at the nano-level, you can see how it operates and thus get ideas of how to manipulate the material in order to create further utility.

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Click here for the explanations of the other components of the 4IR (5G, Quantum Computing, Biotechnology, Autonomous Vehicles, 3D Printing, Decentralised Consensus, Iot, Nanotechnology, AI And Robotics).

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Innovate the Next’ is available on Amazon, on Takealot.com and in all South African bookstores.