With advances in modern science being as amazing as they are, there is a plethora of new and exciting things out there for you to learn about every day, with newer ones being created daily. From the exciting new advances in robotics and artificial intelligence to the invention of more durable and infinitely more useful materials for crafting. Every field of science is seeing mind-blowing new instruments and tools being made a reality with each passing day.
One of these fields that is particularly interesting to learn about is the field of nanoscience, and consequently the creation and implementation of nanomaterials. These materials are used to solve or simplify a wide array of problems. This field of science is also relatively new like computing and artificial intelligence, especially when compared to other, much older fields of science like the study of chemicals and their reactions with each other as well as the field of astronomy. So, let’s discuss just what the term ‘nanomaterials’ implies, and some interesting facts about them as well as how they have been used in differing ways.
What Exactly are Nanomaterials?
Nanomaterials, on paper, might seem like just a different way to describe nanoparticles. However, there is a distinction between them that often gets lost in layman-level conversations. A nanoparticle can be any particle that is tiny enough to qualify as one. Technically speaking, a particle that has at least one dimensional measurement of itself amount to less than a single micron will qualify as a nanoparticle. A common occurrence of nanoparticles is the sea salt that rides gusts of wind above and beyond the seas.
Nanomaterials on the other hand are structured materials that have been designed to be so infinitesimally small that at least one dimension of theirs measures in at less than one micrometer. For reference, a micrometer is one thousand times smaller than a millimeter. These extremely small materials are now used all over the world in all kinds of applications, and have the potential to revolutionize everything if we can properly harness their power and make full use of the possibilities that they have provided us with.
Nanotechnology is All Around Us
Once you fully grasp the possibilities and exciting potential nanomaterials can provide, you might think that we are not ready to start making use of this technological marvel at this point in time. However, nanomaterials are already in use in more items and objects than you may realize. Almost everything we use in our daily lives, from our mobile phones and other electronic devices to paints, cosmetics, rubbers, sporting goods, and inks, make use of nanomaterials in some way or another. And advancements in understanding of nanotechnology have only improved these items over time.
Nanotechnology Was Introduced in 1959
To give you an idea of how recent the concept of nanotechnology is relative to other fields of science, consider this: this field of science wasn’t introduced until the year 1959. The concept at least, was introduced during this year, by physicist Richard Feynman. It wasn’t until much later – the late 1990’s to be exact – that proper research was begun into this field once the alluring potential of it was realized.
Richard Feynman introduced this revolutionary field of science by providing us with a novel idea; what if we made robots that would then go on to make smaller robots, which would then construct even smaller robots, and so on ad infinitum. This idea, though brilliant and full of unique possibilities, was unable to be carried out at the time of its inception due to lack of adequate technological prowess. This process was however, perfected to some extent later on, and is used today in the ever-shrinking world of integrated circuits and electrical components.
Nanomaterials Can Make the Future Truly Magical
So, nanomaterials can be used in inks and rubber, big deal. Well, this is just the beginning. One of the most exciting possible uses of nanomaterials and nanotechnology is the advent of nanobots. This concept of extremely tiny robots has been around for quite some time now, and has been the subject of a number of science fiction books, movies, and TV shows. The idea goes that these tiny robots, though very small and almost helpless by their lonesome, could group together in “swarms” like flying insects and accomplish almost anything.
What are the possibilities when it comes to nanobots? The sky is the limit. Nanobots, if successfully made, could be made to do almost any task imaginable. Large swarms of nanobots could construct huge structures in record times. Nanobots could alter existing substances by literally entering them without any problems due to their size, and changing their composition from within. And, theoretically, nanobots could also be made to self-replicate with ease.
The ‘altering existing compositions’ part is one that has doctors excited the world over. The possibilities are truly endless if, and once, nanobots enter the field of medical science. Ideas – such that they would have been considered the realm of science fiction just a few decades back – have now been proposed that imagine a world where nanobots could be injected into the bloodstream of any person, and the injected nanobots would go around the body administering needed drugs, rapidly healing up any present injuries, and even killing cancer cells with superb precision.
Nanomaterials May Merge All Fields of Science
When it comes to nanomaterials, the boundaries clearly outlining the differences between the numerous fields of science begin to blur after a certain level of advancement has been reached. When everything becomes as tiny as nanomaterials, their physical properties begin to intertwine with each other, leading to a much more uniform outlook on the scientific world and its possible applications. If nanomaterials, and by extension nanotechnology as well, are to reach that level of advancement some day, the world of science will change forever; as each extension of science comes together to form one all-powerful branch that can tackle any problem thrown at it.
The Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter Might Become a Reality
Nanotubes are one of the most powerful advancements ever made in the world of nanotechnology, if not in all of science. These microscopic cylindrical constructs can be used for a wide variety of amazing applications, including making bulletproof civilian clothing that looks completely normal on the outside, but has an extensive nanotube composition inside it that can stop bullets and save the wearer from a fatal blow.
But now, another amazing discovery has been made regarding nanotubes. It was found that at extreme temperatures, sheets of nanotubes actually bend light in a way that renders the area inside them almost see-through. Experiments into this phenomenon have already produced promising results; with coats being made that can almost somewhat render the wearer invisible.
Nanomaterials Can Make Seemingly Impossible Substances
As mentioned at the start of this article, nanomaterials can be used to construct objects that seem almost fantastical in how unconventional they are. These substances cannot be created willy-nilly of course. In fact, Buckypaper – a material that is 10 times lighter than steel and yet a staggering 250 times stronger – was created on accident when experimenting with nanomaterials. Who knows what other weird and useful materials await discovery if we keep studying and experimenting with nanomaterials?
By now we’re certain you see the vast importance nanotechnology could play in our lives, and just why nanomaterials have become such a hotly studied field of science all around the world. Suffice to say, this interest in nanomaterials and their applications might just turn out to be the next big thing, second only perhaps to the explosion of computing advances at the turn of this century. All in all, nanomaterials and how they are used going forward is definitely something to keep your eye on.