I delivered a speech On Nanotechnology for Cyberfest – a technical symposium about which I had once mentioned it in the blog – Cyberfest2007. The theme chosen was “Nanotechnology” to be in line with the upcoming Convergence Technology. So, here is the writeup of the speech.

NANOTECHNOLOGY:

“ I have often wondered how even after many years, the colour of the peacock feather does not fade away. This phenomena of long lasting original colour to the peacock has come from God’s own creation of nano materials coated in a peacock’s feather. Observation of nature and the role of science in understanding it from our research in nano sciences can be converted into a technological product”

– Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Nanotechnology is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “the branch of technology that deals with dimensions and tolerances of less than 100 nanometres, esp. the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.” A nanometer is one billionth (one-thousand millionth) of a meter.

A breakthrough technology is one that breaks through the dam of conventional wisdom and slow progress, opening up prospects for transformative change. This holds true for nanotechnology’s claim to novelty. The emerging fields of nanoscience and nanoengineering – the ability to manipulate and move matter – are leading to unprecedented understanding and control over the fundamental building blocks of all physical things. These developments are likely to change the way almost everything – from vaccines to computers to automobile tyres to objects not yet imagined. Nanotechnology is the builder’s new frontier and its potential impact is compelling.

“There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom” – This famous quote by physicist R. Feynman is often seen as the birth of nanotechnology – The vision of a whole new world that goes beyond simple miniaturization because the laws that govern interactions at this level are quite different from what we are used to. Understanding these interactions is important to be able to assess the potential of such technologies – for good and for bad.

The main thing to know about nanotechnology is that it’s small – Really small. Nano, a prefix that means “dwarf” in Greek, is shorthand for nanometer, one-billionth of a meter: a distance so minute that comparing it to anything in the regular world is a bit of a joke.

When Eric Drexler popularized the word ‘nanotechnology’ in the 1980′s, he was talking about building machines on the scale of molecules, a few nanometers wide — motors, robot arms, and even whole computers, far smaller than a cell.

Nanotechnology matters because familiar materials begin to develop odd properties when they’re nanosize. Tear a piece of aluminum foil into tiny strips, and it will still behave like aluminum—even after the strips have become so small that you need a microscope to see them. But keep chopping them smaller, and at some point—20 to 30 nanometers, in this case—the pieces can explode. Not all nanosize materials change properties so usefully, but the fact that some do is a boon. This is like you shrink a Flash Drive and keep shrinking it, and then at some point, all at once, it turns into a DVD.

In its original sense, nanotechnology refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, highly advanced products.

Nanotechnology is often referred to as a general-purpose technology. That’s because in its mature form it will have significant impact on almost all industries and all areas of society. It offers better built, longer lasting, cleaner, safer, and smarter products for the home, for communications, for medicine, for transportation, for agriculture, and for industry in general.

In practical terms, most people will encounter nanotech through an apparently simple device called a nanofactory that may sit on your countertop or desktop. Packed with miniature chemical processors, computing, and robotics, it will produce a wide-range of items quickly, cleanly, and inexpensively, all controlled by a touch screen.

 

The major breakthrough has been achieved in field of medicine where Nanotechnology is being used to. The first nanomedicines are already bringing clinical benefit to thousands of patients, said Professor Ruth Duncan.

“Progress in the development of nano-sized hybrid therapeutics and nano-sized drug delivery systems over the last decade has been remarkable. A growing number of products have already secured regulatory authority approval and, in turn, are supported by a healthy clinical development pipeline. They include products used to treat multiple sclerosis, AIDS, cancer, hepatitis and arthritis.”

Furthermore, the improved understanding of the molecular basis of disease has led to “real optimism that a new generation of improved medicines is just around the corner,” said Professor Duncan.

Some breakthrough’s that can be achieved using Nanotechnology are:

  • Nearly free consumer products
  • PC’s billions of times faster then today
  • Safe and affordable space travel
  • Virtual end to illness, aging, death
  • No more pollution and automatic cleanup of existing pollution
  • Reintroduction of many extinct plants and animals
  • Terraforming Earth and the Solar System

So, to achieve all these breakthrough’s all we need to do is

“Think Big in this Nano Size World”.