Hello everyone, it is the letter “N” for today’s invention. I had to choose between Nuclear Power and Nanotechnology. I went for Nanotechnology for more than a reason actually. First, Nanotechnology has and will have more impact and effect on our world than the Nuclear Power (in my opinion). Second, the Nuclear power can be considered a development and continuation for my previous post about “Dynamite“. Of course, Nuclear power wasn’t discovered basically to be used in bombs. But, I feel more comfortable to discuss this wonderful and brilliant Nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to “nanotech”) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale.
Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale, at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale.
Matter such as gases, liquids, and solids can exhibit unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties at the nanoscale, differing in important ways from the properties of bulk materials and single atoms or molecules. Some nanostructured materials are stronger or have different magnetic properties compared to other forms or sizes or the same material. Others are better at conducting heat or electricity. They may become more chemically reactive or reflect light better or change color as their size or structure is altered.
In fact, nanotech is not a recent technology as we may think. There are early examples of nanostructured materials that were based on craftsmen’s empirical understanding and manipulation of materials. Use of high heat was one common step in their processes to produce these materials with novel properties.
In the following images we can find the Lycurgus Cup (Rome 4th century) which is an example of dichroic glass; colloidal gold and silver in the glass allow it to look opaque green when lit from outside but translucent red when light shines through the inside.
9th-17th Centuries: Glowing, glittering “luster” ceramic glazes used in the Islamic world, and later in Europe, contained silver or copper or other metallic nanoparticles.
6th-15th Centuries: Vibrant stained glass windows in European cathedrals owed their rich colors to nanoparticles of gold chloride and other metal oxides and chlorides; gold nanoparticles also acted as photocatalytic air purifiers.
13th-18th Centurties: “Damascus” saber blades contained carbon nanotubes and cementite nanowires—an ultrahigh-carbon steel formulation that gave them strength, resilience, the ability to hold a keen edge, and a visible moiré pattern in the steel that give the blades their name.
In 1857, Michael Faraday discovered colloidal “ruby” gold, demonstrating that nanostructured gold under certain lighting conditions produces different-colored solutions. This was the “non-direct” start of it. After that through the years, there were some advancements like Field Emission Microscope, Semiconductor Transistor, monodisperse colloidal materials, Field ion Microscope, Molecular Engineering, Integrated Circuits, … etc which made the way for the arrival of Nanotech.
The first use of the concepts in ‘nano-technology’ (but predating use of that name) was in “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” a talk given by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at Caltech on December 29, 1959. In his talk, Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules. Over a decade later, in his explorations of ultraprecision machining, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology in 1974 in a paper on ion-sputter machining. It wasn’t until 1981, with the development of the scanning tunneling microscope that could “see” individual atoms, that modern nanotechnology began.
In the 1980s the basic idea of this definition was explored in much more depth by Dr. K. Eric Drexler, who promoted the technological significance of nano-scale phenomena and devices through speeches and the books Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology (1986) and Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation, and so the term acquired its current sense. Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology is considered the first book on the topic of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology and nanoscience got started in the early 1980s with two major developments; the birth of cluster science and the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) (an instrument for imaging surfaces at the atomic level. Its development in 1981 earned its inventors, Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer (at IBM Zürich), the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986). This development led to the discovery of fullerenes (any molecule composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, tube, and many other shapes) in 1986 and carbon nanotubes (allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure) a few years later. In another development, the synthesis and properties of semiconductor nanocrystals was studied; This led to a fast increasing number of metal oxide nanoparticles of quantum dots(a nanocrystal made of semiconductor materials that are small enough to exhibit quantum mechanical properties). The atomic force microscope was invented six years after the STM was invented. In 2000, the United States National Nanotechnology Initiative was founded to coordinate Federal nanotechnology research and development. Today nanotechnology is reshaping technology.