Nanotechnology: The Next Small Thing

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Last updated: April 17, 2019

A recent issue of The Economist describes nanotechnology as “the next small thing.”1 Nanotechnology is ability to construct a wide range of large objects inexpensively and with atomic precision. David Bishop of the New Jersey nanotechnology Consortium defines nanotech as “devices, structures or systems with characteristics, features or parts on nanoscale- that is less than one billionth of a meter.”2 This process will go beyond materials and devices to complex systems of molecular machines. The significant impact on organization’s procedure and workflows has seen the growth of many potential customers.

The growth of the Nanotech industry has been steady and recently large firms are now perusing nanotechnology. According to McKinsey, a consultancy firm said that there were “837 nanotech startups in 2003- over half in America- up from 462 in 2001.”3 This suggests that the potential use of nanotechnology is great and in the coming years it will create the biggest boom in the market. “There is a talk of market value of $2 trillion by 2015, from perhaps as little as $1 billion today.

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“4There are many uses of nanotechnology and among the most important is that it can be used to produce better materials, improved medicine, lighter computers and large energy storages. Nanotechnology will enable us to make new materials that will be “stronger, lighter, and even interactive. The uses for these new materials are endless, from knives that never need sharpening to better space ships.”5 In the field of medicine, where everyday new diseases are found, nanotechnology could mean the end of the disease.

For example, “if you caught a cold or contracted AIDS, you’d just drink a teaspoon of liquid that contained an army of molecule-sized nanobots programmed to enter your body’s cells and fight viruses. If a genetic disease ran in your family, you’d ingest nanobots that would burrow into your DNA and repair the defective gene.”6 The uses of nanotechnology in the medical field are endless.In today’s fast moving world, where new computers are being developed everyday, customers are looking for computers that are fast, small and easily portable.

Since nanotechnology can arrange the atoms differently and can control them, it is easy to produce such a computer. “In the future all it will take is 5 electrons to represent a computer bit. With the use of Carbon Nanotube Components and Molecular Components more powerful and fast computers can be made.”7 This use of nanotechnology will prove to be of tremendous success in the commercial market.Among the users of nanotechnology are “corporate giants such as General Electrics, Motorola, DuPont and Lucent.”8 The aircraft making company Boeing has also pursued nanotech and “is working on applications to cut the weight of rockets, aircrafts and satellites.”9 This shows that a variety of firms are adopting nanotechnology and thus we can see the upcoming boom of its use in the near future.

The successful use of nanotechnology has allowed it to grow and be used in a variety of industries to produce “nanoproducts in chemical, coatings, sensors and cosmetics. Beyond that, new products are expected to follow in lighting, medical diagnosis, drug delivery and computing.”10Even though nanotechnology seems to be growing, it faces challenges along the way. It is expensive to use and thus to have greater success “manufacturing processes must become cheaper.”11 At the same time, “social and environmental concerns may have to be addressed.

“12 Since the cost of using it is incredibly high, it has been largely financed by the government at their risk as no private investor would like to invest in such a risky project. It requires more investors so that it develops more quickly and smoothly.The future of nanotechnology is of crucial importance to the future of the world. It is a revolutionary technology “based on enormously productive, clean, and precise manufacturing.”13 The potential benefits and risks using nanotechnology for health, arms, the environment, and the economy are huge and cannot be ignored.

Thus “fortunes are going to be made and lost”14 as the “products may be tiny but the stakes are enormous.”15In all, nanotechnology seems to have the largest potential to be successful in the field of innovations if it is used correctly. At the same time it has many risks involved especially for the government who has the highest stake in its funding.

If the nanotechnology market booms the way it is predicted by the market gurus, then we shall witness the birth of a new technological era.

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