Saturday, July 23, 2005

Nanotechnology! Wha' the .... ?

Imagine the earth. Imagine a soccer-ball lying on the earth. Now imagine shrinking the size of the earth (along with the ball) to that of a grape. Now, imagine the size of the shrunken ball. That is how small a nano-particle is!!

The 21st century is the slated to be called "Century of the Nanotechnology". Nanotechnology is the manipulation of nano(atomic) particles to help people to perform a wide array of different functions that are today considered impossible. Nanometre means 10 to the power of -9 metres. That is how small this technology is. But its applications are as varied as that of curing cancer to speeding up computers.

Imagine creating machines with atomic precision and almost zero power consumption. One such device would be a nanobot. A 'nanobot' is a sort of robot made to about the size of a single atom. These are constructed to perform a predefined task. Thousands of such nanobots can perform tasks (like getting rid of pollution from the air or getting the ocean surface clean after an oil spill particle by particle) together. Thus simultaneously making the task easier as well as faster. In addition these bots could be self-replicating, eliminating the need for creating newer ones each time these bots fails.

Nanomedicine & Nanobiology
Now medically, thousands of such 'nanobots' could be assigned to each person to take care of his medical needs. For example, these 'nanobots' could act as 'dust clouds' around a person. When a medical emergency arises, this 'dust cloud' will act accordingly. And since they act at the atomic or sub-micron levels, the repairing of tissues and destruction of infection causing organisms is made possible.
Consider a patient inflicted with cancer. These bots could be inserted into the patient and then could be used to search and destroy the cancerous cells thus getting rid of the patient's cancer!! Many companies are already in clinical trials for drug delivery mechanisms based on nanotechnology!

In computing terms, nanotechnology has already made somewhat huge strides. As computing power increases rapidly, manufactures are finding that it is increasingly becoming difficult to follow Moore's Law(which stated that the number of transistors on a chip will double every 18 months) which has been holding true for a very long time. But a point will be reached when following Moore's Law would simply not be practical.
This is where nanotechnology steps in. By manipulating atomic and sub-atomic particles, their charges can be used to mimic the binary 1s and binary 0s used in today's digital computing. This will increase the transistor count significantly. It is estimated that using nanotechnology, the computing speed would increase 1000 times!!! Now that's a lot of power. In 1989 when one scientist used a Scanning Probe Microscope)SPM to spell out the letters IBM using xenon atoms.

Some other uses of nanotechnology i found interesting were machines tiny gears and cogs made from atoms, miniature or atomic submarines in the bloodstreams controlling the presence of micro-organisms, carbon nanotubes, etc.

These are just some of the areas that will be affected by nanotechnology. Once the impeding problems and wrinkles are sorted out and nanotechnology takes off, life will become more easier and healthier. Can't wait!


Blogger Sudiegirl said...

You're going to laugh at me, but there was a Powerpuff Girls episode about these nano-size robots that the girls had to fight. Very weird indeed...and very interesting article. Thanks!


4:06 PM  
Blogger TrĂ©e said...

sudiegirl, I saw that episode with my son--lol. Really is some incredible stuff just around the corner.

11:23 AM  
Blogger doris said...

Very good post - I still can't get my head round how this is possible, but fascinating nonetheless.

You have an interesting blog here! I've blogrolled you and look forward to reading more :-)

1:35 AM  
Blogger reojames said...

Great post, very interesting. If you read fiction, check out Dean Koontz's "By The Light Of The Moon".
It's plot deals with this subject and will shed some light on how far this stuff can take us.

5:50 AM  

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