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Anton Joseph Lucanus

Nanoscience 2.0: An in-depth look into how it will better humanity

Over the past two decades, researchers have found a way to manipulate matter at the level of a single atom and smaller groups of atoms which range between 1-100 nanometers. What resulted is that small groups of atoms, called nanoclusters, that possess characteristics which are extremely different from other characteristics of the same matter at a single-atom or group level. They behave differently because they’re extremely small - a billionth of a metre to be exact - and ignore the rules of physics. As such, they can be manipulated to allow for new developments and changes to occur across almost every field. Nanoscience is allowing researchers to change the characteristics at the nanoscale. Technology is developing at an impressive rate, along with advancements in engineering, military defense and medicine.

Scientists are hopeful that they will be able to create nanobots to deliver treatments straight to the root of the problem. Cancerous growths would receive doses of chemotherapy, bypassing the need to eliminate every cell in a patient’s body and increasing the chances of survival and recovery. As the technology improves over time, nanobots might even be introduced as an immunity booster. Imagine slicing your thumb accidentally, or breaking your ankle, and waking up to freshly healed skin and mending bones.

Nanoscience is moving out from the lab and science fiction, and being incorporated into our daily lives. Take for example the cosmetic industry. Nanoscale iron oxide powder is used as a red base in lipsticks. Monochrome paint is created from nanoscale titanium dioxide, which gives it its reflective characteristics.

Consumerism plays a part in determining how this technology is being adopted into various forms. Nanoscience has been found to be extremely helpful in developing how we store our data and control our machines and sensors. A virtual data room, for example, utilize hard disk drives, processing chips and memory chips which all employ the technology of nanoscience. Scientists have begun experimenting with data storage in atoms, believing that each data bit could be stored in a single atom. This suggests that every atom would become responsible for and capable of storing a byte of data. Therefore, mobile phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets are scaling down in size while increasing in capacity and performance.

Short battery life will soon become a thing of the past as nanoscience might answer to charging a phone in seconds. The University of Waterloo used nanoscience in order to improve battery duration in energy-storage devices. Professor Michael Pope stated, “We’re showing record numbers for the energy-storage capacity of supercapacitors… and the more energy-dense we can make them, the more batteries we can start displacing.”

In order to increase battery life on electronics, researchers coat atomically thins layers of graphene on the supercapacitors electrodes. The atomic liquid will be able to maximize energy-storage capacity. As researchers continue to play around with nanoscience, developing faster, smarter and newer processes, there will be leaps and bounds in technology that surpass what has been believed to be possible - such is the power of technology.

Nanoscience has been making innumerable breakthroughs in the past decade and the average consumer would not be able to point out what developments have been made available through the technology or how it has become ingrained into their daily lives, proving that its incorporation has been seamless. Furthermore, the speed of which it is developing does not allow for the marketplace to get used to a certain idea. What was true the day before, might have changed in the next twelve hours. This is how rapid the changes nanoscience have brought to the table. Staying up to date with technological advancements are becoming a cat and mouse game, but it’s definitely something we need to be chasing after. It’s important to understand that nanoscience isn’t some trend that’s simply going to quickly pass us by, it will continue to grow and integrate itself as an integral part of most industries and if it hasn’t become incorporated into a permanent fixture in civilization and technology, it will be.

Anton Lucanus is breast cancer researcher at UWA who is interested in the emerging applications of nano-fabrication in cancer biology. If you would like to contact Anton, you can do so via clicking this This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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