Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to “nanotech”) is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally nanotechnology deals with structures sized between 1 to 100 nanometer in at least one dimension, and involves developing materials or devices within that size. Quantum mechanical effects are very important at this scale.
Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to investigating whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale.
There is much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted.
Nanotechnology can help to reproduce or to repair damaged tissue. “Tissue engineering” makes use of artificially stimulated cell proliferation by using suitable nanomaterial-based scaffolds and growth factors. For example, bones can be regrown on carbon nanotube scaffolds. Tissue engineering might replace today’s conventional treatments like organ transplants or artificial implants. Advanced forms of tissue engineering may lead to life extension.
Nanotechnology has the potential to make construction faster, cheaper, safer, and more varied. Automation of nanotechnology construction can allow for the creation of structures from advanced homes to massive skyscrapers much more quickly and at much lower cost.
Dr. Bradley Edwards is an internationally recognized scientist in Nanotechnology and a global authority on space in the media and technical conferences and panels. Below is an audio interview with Dr. Edwards about Nanotechnology.