Nanotechnology UPSC : Nanotechnology is an important topic for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam as it is a field with a wide range of applications and potential impacts in various sectors, such as healthcare, energy, materials science, and environmental science. The UPSC exam may cover nanotechnology in different subjects, including science and technology, environmental science, agriculture, and healthcare. Aspirants should have a basic understanding of nanotechnology and its applications in these areas, including the benefits and potential risks. They should also be familiar with the regulatory framework for nanotechnology and its potential impact on society, the economy, and the environment. To prepare for the UPSC exam, aspirants can refer to the NCERT textbooks, standard reference books, and online resources for nanotechnology and related subjects.
The term “Nano” comes from Latin word meaning Dwarf. And in scientific community it refers to 1 nanometer.
1nm = one millionth of a mm
1nm = one billionth of a mm
The term “Nanotechnology” was used for the first time by Richard Feynman in 1959 in his article “There is plenty of room left at the bottom”. The term “Nano science” was first defined by Japan scientist Norio Taniguchi. Nano Science is a field of science which is concerned with study of atoms, molecules and objects
whose size is on Nano meter scale.
Note : Materials behave differently at nano meter scale than when compared to when they behave
at the normal scale.
For example : Gold at macro scale is chemically inert but at nanoscale, it behaves as a catalyst. The reason for this is the change in the fundamental property of matter due to the increased ratio of surface area to volume which leads to altering the physical, thermal and catalytic properties of matter.
Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field that involves the study and engineering of matter at the nanoscale, which is the scale of atoms and molecules. It involves the development of novel materials, devices, and systems with unique and useful properties that arise from their small size and structure. The applications of nanotechnology are broad and varied, including fields such as electronics, medicine, energy, and environmental science.
In electronics, nanotechnology is used to create smaller and more efficient devices such as transistors, memory devices, and sensors. By using nanoscale materials and structures, electronic components can be made smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient. Some examples of nanoelectronics include carbon nanotube transistors, quantum dots, and nanowires.
Nanotechnology engineering involves the application of principles from physics, chemistry, materials science, and engineering to design, develop and fabricate materials, devices, and systems on the nanoscale. This field focuses on the unique properties of materials and phenomena at the nanoscale and aims to create new materials, technologies, and applications. Nanotechnology engineers work with a variety of tools, including microscopy, lithography, and nanofabrication techniques, to manipulate and control the structure and properties of materials on the nanoscale. Applications of nanotechnology engineering can be found in a wide range of fields, including electronics, medicine, energy, and environmental science.
There are many journals that cover nanotechnology research, but one of the most prominent and respected is the Journal of Nanotechnology, published by Hindawi. This peer-reviewed journal covers all aspects of nanotechnology, including materials science, engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. The Journal of Nanotechnology publishes original research articles, review articles, and book reviews, and provides a forum for scientists, engineers, and researchers from around the world to share their work and ideas in the field of nanotechnology. Other notable journals in the field of nanotechnology include Nano Letters, Advanced Materials, and ACS Nano.
- Nanoscience is the study of phenomena and manipulation of materials at the nanoscale, which typically ranges from 1 to 100 nanometers in size. It is an interdisciplinary field that draws on principles from physics, chemistry, materials science, biology, and engineering to investigate the properties and behavior of matter at the nanoscale.
- At the nanoscale, materials exhibit unique physical, chemical, and biological properties that are different from their bulk counterparts. For example, the high surface-to-volume ratio of nanomaterials can make them more reactive, and their quantum confinement can result in new electronic and optical properties.
- Nanoscience is a fundamental area of research that aims to understand these unique properties and phenomena at the nanoscale. It has many applications in fields such as electronics, energy, medicine, and environmental science. Some examples of nanoscience research include the development of new materials and devices such as nanosensors, nanoelectronics, and nanomedicine.
Nanotechnology has led to the development of a wide range of products that have unique properties and applications. Some examples of nanotechnology products include:
- Sunscreen – Nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are used in many sunscreens to provide better UV protection.
- Self-cleaning surfaces – Nanocoatings can be applied to surfaces to make them self-cleaning and resistant to dirt and water.
- Drug delivery systems – Nanoparticles can be used as carriers for drugs, allowing for targeted delivery and controlled release.
- Water filtration – Nanofilters can remove impurities and bacteria from water more effectively than traditional filters.
- Scratch-resistant coatings – Nanocoatings can be applied to surfaces such as eyeglasses and smartphone screens to make them more scratch-resistant.
- Nanosensors – Nanotechnology has enabled the development of highly sensitive and selective sensors for a wide range of applications, including environmental monitoring and medical diagnostics.
- Energy storage – Nanomaterials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes can be used to make more efficient batteries and supercapacitors.
These are just a few examples of the many nanotechnology products that are currently available or in development. As research in this field continues, it is likely that many more innovative products will be developed in the future.
Nanotechnology Biology and Medicine
Nanotechnology has several potential applications in the fields of biology and medicine. Some of these applications are:
- Drug delivery: Nanoparticles can be designed to deliver drugs directly to specific cells or tissues, reducing the side effects and improving the efficacy of treatments.
- Diagnostics: Nanoparticles can be used as probes for detecting and imaging diseases at an early stage, leading to improved diagnosis and treatment.
- Tissue engineering: Nanotechnology can be used to develop biomaterials and scaffolds that mimic the structure and function of natural tissues, leading to the development of better implants and prosthetics.
- Biosensors: Nanotechnology can be used to develop highly sensitive biosensors for detecting biomolecules and pathogens, leading to better disease diagnosis and monitoring.
- Regenerative medicine: Nanotechnology can be used to stimulate the regeneration of damaged tissues and organs, leading to new and improved treatments for a wide range of diseases and injuries.
Nanotechnology in Agriculture
Nanotechnology has potential applications in the field of agriculture that could lead to improvements in crop production, food safety, and environmental sustainability. Some of the potential applications of nanotechnology in agriculture include:
- Nanosensors: Nanosensors can be used to detect plant stress, nutrient deficiencies, and diseases at an early stage, allowing for more targeted and efficient use of fertilizers and pesticides.
- Delivery systems: Nanoparticles can be used as carriers for delivering nutrients and pesticides to plants, reducing the amount of chemicals required and minimizing environmental damage.
- Soil remediation: Nanoparticles can be used to remediate contaminated soil by binding with pollutants and reducing their toxicity.
- Improved crop growth: Nanoparticles can be used to enhance photosynthesis and improve nutrient uptake, leading to higher crop yields and improved food quality.
- Food safety: Nanotechnology can be used to develop biosensors for detecting pathogens and contaminants in food, leading to improved food safety and quality control.
Approaches to Nano Technology
- Materials and devices are built from the molecular components which assemble themselves chemically by principles of molecular recognition.
- Example: Carbon nanotubes built using Graphene.
- GRAPHENE: it is a substance composed of pure carbon where the length of carbon bonds is 0.142nm. The atoms in Graphene are arranged in a hexagonal pattern similar to honey combstructure. The term Graphene was coined as a combination of graphite and the suffix “ene” by hans-peter Boehm.
- Note: The Nobel prize in Physics for 2010 was given to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for groundbreaking experiments regarding 2D material Graphene. Graphene conducts electricity faster than silicon. It can also resist temperature Upto 150 degc. Hence it has become favoritly used in IC’s and PC boards.
- As the name suggests, nano objects are constructed from larger entities.
Example: Gold at macro scale is chemically inert. But at nano scale it acts as a catalyst.
Applications of Nanotechnology
These are tiny particles that have special properties that are used in some areas which has very high significance.For eg: Nanoparticles of Titanium dioxide is used in some suntan lotions and cosmetics. These tiny particles are transparent on skin and can absorb and reflect UV rays.
2. Nano medicine
It is the field of technology where Nano materials and devices are designed for medical purposes of Diagnosis, Prevention of disease,Treatment of injury, Drug delivery.
- Bioavailability of drug
It is the science of ensuring the presence of drug molecules in the perfect place of the body with perfect amount of medicine where it will do most good.
- Nano Pharmacology
It is the science which involves linking up of fabricated nanomaterials to biologically active compounds or molecules to be used as probes and drugs to identify and target abnormal cells.
Medical nanorobots would circulate freely throughout the body when injected into the blood stream. These would carry drugs which will be selectively released on coming in contact with the abnormal cell.
3. Military applications
Bio-medical engineers are trying to develop nano-mechanical olfactory sensors (NOSE) to detect characteristic substances. Smart dust may be deployed for stealthy monitoring of a hostile environment.
Another applications of Nanotechnology
- Electronics: Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize the electronics industry by enabling the development of smaller, faster, and more efficient devices, such as transistors, memory chips, and displays.
- Medicine: Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry by enabling the development of new and improved drug delivery systems, medical imaging techniques, and diagnostic tools.
- Energy: Nanotechnology can contribute to the development of new energy sources, such as solar cells, fuel cells, and batteries, by improving their efficiency and reducing their cost.
- Materials Science: Nanotechnology can improve the performance of materials by enhancing their mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties, leading to the development of stronger and more durable materials.
- Environmental Science: Nanotechnology can be used to develop new materials and methods for water treatment, air purification, and waste management, leading to more sustainable and efficient solutions for environmental problems.
Potential hazards due to Nanotechnology
Critics of Nanotechnology point the potential toxicity to new class of nano substances that might alter balance both ecologically and for a person individually. Scientists term this as Nano Pollution.
It is the generic term given for all waste generated by nanodevices or during the nanomaterial manufacturing process.
Ex: Nanoparticles of Titanium dioxide that is used in sunscreen lotions and cosmetics can get into food chain and cause ageing of colon cells. Cadmium selenide nanoparticles can cause cadmium poisoning.
Nanotechnology in India
Department of IT has started the Nanotech development program. A vision group under the leadership of CNR Rao was setup and entrusted with the task of formulating a National Nanotechnology Policy.
Government of India also has launched the Nanoscience and Technology initiative. A program that focuses on overall R&D in Nanotech field so that India can be a major Player in nanotech in years to come.
- Nanotechnology has emerged as a transformative field with enormous potential to revolutionize various aspects of human life, including healthcare, energy, and information technology. The field’s ability to manipulate matter at the nanoscale has led to the development of advanced materials, devices, and systems that can improve the performance, efficiency, and sustainability of existing technologies.
- At the same time, the rapid progress of nanotechnology has raised concerns about its potential impact on human health, safety, and the environment. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that the benefits of nanotechnology are balanced with the potential risks and that appropriate measures are taken to mitigate any negative effects.
- The role of the government, academia, industry, and civil society is crucial in advancing the development of nanotechnology in a responsible and sustainable manner. Policies and regulations should be put in place to ensure that the research, development, and commercialization of nanotechnology are guided by ethical, safety, and environmental standards.
- Overall, nanotechnology has the potential to address some of the most pressing global challenges and contribute to sustainable development. However, its development should be guided by responsible practices to ensure that the benefits are maximized while minimizing the risks.
Here are five questions and answers related to nanotechnology:
(1) What is nanotechnology?
Answer: Nanotechnology is a field of science and engineering that deals with the manipulation of matter at the nanoscale level, which is typically between 1 to 100 nanometers in size.
(2) What are the potential applications of nanotechnology?
Answer: Nanotechnology has potential applications in a wide range of fields, including healthcare, electronics, energy, environmental protection, and many more. Some specific examples include targeted drug delivery, nanosensors, and high-efficiency solar cells.
(3) What are some of the concerns about the safety of nanotechnology?
Answer: One concern is the potential toxicity of certain nanomaterials. Because of their small size, some nanoparticles may be able to enter cells and tissues and cause harm. Other concerns include the environmental impact of nanomaterials, and the potential for their uncontrolled release into the environment.
(4) What is the role of government in regulating nanotechnology?
Answer: Governments have a role in regulating nanotechnology to ensure that its development and commercialization are guided by ethical, safety, and environmental standards. This includes establishing research priorities, developing regulations and standards, and supporting risk assessment and management efforts.
(5) What are some of the ethical considerations related to nanotechnology?
Answer: Ethical considerations related to nanotechnology include the potential for unequal distribution of benefits, the possible impact on human rights, and the need for transparency and public engagement in decision-making. It is important for researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to consider the broader societal implications of nanotechnology development and deployment.