Real World Applications of Nanotechnology
Elsewhere on this site: Nanotechnology Products Lesson with Teachers Prep Guide and Nanoproducts Activity Sheets
The consumer world is exploding with “nanotechnology enhanced” products. Consumer products is an area where the experts are saying the most immediate nanotechnology impacts will be made and recognized by the majority of people in the world. Currently there are numerous products on the market that are the result of nanotechnology.
For the sporting enthusiast, we have tennis balls that last longer, tennis rackets that are stronger, golf balls that fly straighter, nano ski wax that is easier to apply and more effective than standard wax, and bowling balls that are harder; and these products are just scratching the surface. These products all use nanostructured materials to give them enhanced performance.
Speaking of scratching the surface, we also have nano car wax that fills in those tiny cracks more effectively and gives you a shinier vehicle. There are also nano products available to keep your eyewear and other optical devices cleaner, dryer, and more durable.
In the clothing world, we have pants that repel water and won’t stain shirts and shoe inserts that keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and nano socks that don’t “stink” due to the inclusion of nanotech materials (nanosized sliver particles). Nano-ceramic coatings are being utilized on photo quality picture paper to deliver sharper, higher quality “homemade” digital photo reproductions on your ink jet printer. How about that DVD you watched last night? Any idea how big the features on that now ubiquitous product are? DVD “bumps” to store information are 320 nanometers wide.
The world of electronics has been using many of the key methods shared by other nanotechnology disciplines for many years. As an example, think of the evolution of the video game. Nanotechnology has enabled arcade size video games of yesteryear like Pong, Frogger, and PacMan to be replaced with very sophisticated home Playstations, X-Boxes, and Game Cubes that play “life like” Madden 2005, Grand Theft Auto, and Halo 2 video games.
There are also a tremendous amount of other electronic applications out there that are effecting our every day lives. Just take a trip to your local electronics mega-store and you will see a multitude of these including: faster and more powerful computers, palm pilots (blackberries), flash drives, digital cameras and displays, cell phones, LCDs, LEDs, MP3’s, electronic ink displays, thin film batteries, and flexible electronics to name a few. All of these applications are possible and affordable due to the ability to work effectively and efficiently at the nano-scale.
The biotech world also has many real world applications currently in use or under development that are, or will be, affecting our quality of life. Bandages embedded with silver nanoparticles are coming of age in the wound healing arena. And We now have drug delivery via a patch. A variety of time release thin films are now utilized on implantations into the human body (for example screws, joints, and stents) and these films are affecting the long term effectiveness of these devices,. Respiration monitors utilizing nano-materials have been developed that are many times more sensitive than previous state of the art technology. Man-made skin is a nanofabricated network and is presently in use for skin graft applications. Some other nanotechnology applications which are currently under development in the biotech world are diabetic insulin biocapsules, pharmaceuticals utilizing “bucky ball” technology to selectively deliver drugs, and cancer therapies using targeted radioactive biocapsules.
The world around us is filled with applications that nanotechnology makes possible. Don’t believe it? Look around! You won’t have to look far before these applications become evident to you. Nanotechnology is influencing the development of a wide variety of very diverse fields; among these are electronics, biotechnology, and consumer applications. From tennis balls to bandages to palm pilots, nanotechnology is making a significant impact on the jobs we work at and the products that we enjoy.
Welcome to the Nano–World!
Bob Ehrmann and Terry Kuzma
Pennsylvania State University
Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization
Nanotex Fabric Clothing
Drug Delivery patches
Tennis Rackets and Tennis balls and other sports equipment
Nano Golf balls
Drug Delivery Patches