What is Nanotechnology? – History, Uses, Applications, and More

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the education and development of systems on a nanometric scale. “Nano” is a prefix of the International System of Units that comes from the Greek νάνος, which means dwarf, and corresponds to a factor 10 ^ -9.

It applied to the length units, which corresponds to one billionth of a meter (10 ^ -9 Meters), 1 Nanometer.

On this scale, new properties and phenomena observe, governed by Quantum Mechanics’ laws. These unique properties are scientists take advantage of to create new materials ( nanomaterials ) or nanotechnological devices.

Nano-technology promises solutions to multiple problems that humanity currently faces, such as environmental, energy, health (nanomedicine), and many others. However, these new technologies can lead to risks and dangers if they are misused.

History of Nanotechnology

  1. One of the pioneers in Nanotechnology is the American physicist Richard Feynman, who, in 1959 at a congress of the American Physics Society at Caltech, gave the speech.
  2. There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom  (There is a lot of space down there), in which he describes a process that would allow for manipulating atoms and molecules individually through high precision instruments.
  3. In this way, systems could be designed and built at the nanoscale, atom by atom. Feynman also warns that these nanometric systems’ properties would be different from those present at the macroscale in this speech.
  4. 1981, the American engineer  Eric Drexler, inspired by Feynman’s speech, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the article ” Molecular engineering”.
  5. An approach to the growth of general capabilities for molecular manipulation describes with more detail what has been advanced in previous years by Feynman.
  6. The term “Nano-technology” was applied for the first time by Drexler in 1986, in his book ” Engines of creation: the next era of Nanotechnology “. He describes a nano-technology machine with the capacity to replicate itself.
  7. In this context, he proposed the term “grey plague” to refer to what would happen if a self-replicating nanobot released into the environment.
  8. In addition to Drexler, the Japanese scientist Norio Taniguchi first used the term nano-technology in 1974. He defined nano-technology as the processing, separation, and manipulation of materials by atom.

What are the Uses of Nanotechnology?

  • In basic terms, nano-technology is a type of materials engineering at the atomic or molecular scale.
  • That means that it allows you to manipulate matter on an infinitely small scale, between 1 and 100 nanometers, that is, about the size of a DNA molecule (2 nm) and a bacterium of the genus Mycoplasma (200 nm).
  • Therefore, the uses of nanotechnology are virtually infinite: from intervening the chemical composition of living beings.
  • It allows the DNA of microscopic living beings to be modified and “programming” them to carry out specific biochemical tasks, manufacture novel materials, and unique properties called nanomaterials.

Applications of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology produces pesticides or fertilizers that collaborate with agriculture.

Some of the present applications of nanotechnology have to do with:

Textile Industry

  • The creation of smart fabrics, capable of pre-programmed behaviours in chips or other electronic instruments, thus being self-cleaning, stain repellent, or changing colour and temperature.

Agricultural Design

  • Preparation of pesticides, pesticides and fertilizers with controlled biochemistry allows the improvement of soils and nanosensors to detect groundwater, the concentration of nutrients, etc.

Support for Livestock

  • Manufacture through nanoparticles of vaccines and drugs to take care of the health of livestock, or nanosensors capable of alerting about the presence of diseases, parasites, etc.

Food Industry

  • In this area, food sensors develop elements that can check food viability, to nano-packaging for it, specially designed to delay food decomposition’s natural process.


  • It is the first generation of pharmacological products designed with nanosystems, capable of professionally and specifically distributing.
  • The active compounds of medicines, procurement better and faster results and minimizing collateral damage.
  • On the other hand, the industry envisions the following as future fields of research:


  • And also, the design of computerized systems of colossal power and speed through nanosystems.


  • Application of nanomachines to efficiently and quickly control the local temperature.


  • That they could well be efficient, safe and of low environmental impact, as a solution to the energy crisis with which the XXI century begins.

Environmental Solutions

  • And also as nanotechnological systems for hazardous waste disposal or garbage disposal.

More Content by Concept of Nanotechnology

  1. Nano-technology involves subatomic matter and the specific knowledge of scientific disciplines such as organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductors, microfabrication, and surface science.
  2. And also, put very simply, nano-technology starts from the idea of ​​building microscopic machines with which to produce novel materials of a unique and particular molecular configuration.

Examples of Nanotechnology

A couple of examples of current nano-technology application to human problems are as follows:

Bactericidal Black Silicon

  • Australian and Spanish scientists announced creating a material known as “black silicon”, whose molecular composition stops.
  • Without the need for added crops, the proliferation of numerous species of gram-positive and gram-negative microorganisms. It is also reducing the effectiveness of certain types of endospores.

Nanosurgery Using a Robot

  • And also, the Swiss laboratory ETH Zürich is preparing to test its first magnetically guided micro-robot, known as OctoMag.
  • It hopes to carry out microsurgeries without opening the patient only by injecting it into the body through a small needle.
  • Similar models of micropumps, which deliver drugs into the eye when needed, have also been tested in the US.

Nano-technology in medicine

Nanowiners can assistance the immune system to fight disease.

The promises of nanotechnology for the progression of medicine are staggering. Above we gave a pair of examples of this, but there is still much to discover, such as:

Nano treatment for Incurable Diseases

  • And also, nanotechnological answers to cancer, HIV / AIDS, or Alzheimer’s disease could originate from the hand of biochemical robots injected into the human body.

Nanotechnological Slowing Down of Aging

  • One day we could, through nanoparticles, combat ageing at a molecular level and extend our lifespan even further, delaying senility.


  • And also, protection systems against diseases based on nanosystems’ introduction to the body would help the immune system fight against all kinds of new infections.

Genetic Reprogramming

  • It would likely modify our DNA and gradually eliminate genes that carry inherited diseases, deficiencies, and other ills using nanorobots.
  • It would improve the quality of life of the species in general. Of course, it also requires rethinking the moral laws of science to some degree.

Difference Between Nanotechnology and Biotechnology

  • Biotechnology is the application of technological answers to problems of a biological nature. And also, it takes on an entirely new level thanks to the introduction of nanosciences.
  • The possibility of programming or reprogramming living existences through DNA nanotechnological intervention could allow us to principal life towards more convenient trails.
  • However, the mixture of biotechnology and nanotechnology will include significant moral and biological risks.
  • Humanity knows very well what occurs when it tries to play God. For example, the manufacture of more dairy cows with more meat, crops resistant to pests, etc., should continuously go hand in hand with a reflection on our place in the world’s natural order.


Nanotechnology is the manipulation and manufacture of materials and artefacts on an atomic or molecular scale, that is, nanometric. It is a vast field of research and applications that is still in the making.

Also Read: Storage Area Network – Definition, Concept, Types, and More

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