Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nanotechnology Benefits

Nanotechnology is impacting businesses and will offer new and improved products and processes and will allow companies to innovate and enter new markets - below are some examples.

Nanotechnology Applications:

Advanced Manufacturing
• Benefits: Controlled manufacturing processes, economical and high output with low cost.
• Applications and Uses: faster electronics, new material development

• Benefits: CO2 reduction, lighter materials, move to less fuel consumption cost savings, improved functionality of materials, minimising risk, flexibility and new systems
• Applications and Uses: nanocomposites, advanced sensors, faster electronics for data processing

• Benefits: higher crop yields, reduction in the use of pesticides and improved water management
• Applications and Uses: nanoparticles for removing contamination, moisture sensors, detection of pathogens

• Benefits: CO2 reduction, lighter materials, move to less fuel consumption
• Applications and Uses: Lubricant / hydraulic additives, nanoparticles in catalytic converters, fuel cells, hydrogen storage

Chemical Industries
• Benefits: reduction of waste and CO2 reduction
• Applications and Uses: fuel cells, nanoparticles as catalysts

• Benefits: lower energy needs, CO2 reduction
• Applications and Uses: Thermal insulation, Energy storage devices

• Benefits: UV protection, enhanced delivery of medicated skin products
• Applications: clear sunscreens, beauty care products, Cosmeceuticals, Nutraceuticals

Creative Industries
• Benefits: Bioinspired product development
• Applications and Uses: changing effects, advanced display systems

• Benefits: better detection and surveillance techniques,
• Applications and Uses: body armour, chemical and biological sensors

• Benefits: providing faster, smaller and enhanced hand held devices
• Applications and Uses: Advanced display technologies with conductive nanomaterials, quantum computing, data storage, printable and flexible electronics, magnetic nanoparticles for data storage

• Benefits: New materials for energy harvesting and storage
• Applications and Uses: DC-DC power converters, fuel cells, nanocomposites for high temperature applications

• Benefits: CO2 reduction and clean-up
• Applications and Uses: Air and water filtration, waste and water treatment, hazourdous materials disposal, in-building environmental systems, remediation

Extreme Environment
• Benefits: De-icing,
• Applications and Uses: Advanced textiles, stronger materials

Food and drink packing
• Benefits: tracking, quality monitoring and anti-counterfeiting, provides enhanced information on product and is environmentally friendly
• Applications and Uses: improved barrier properties and heat-resistance, anti-microbial and anti-fungal packaging, smart sensing, biodegradable packaging

• Benefits: better patient care and understanding of biological processes
• Applications and Uses: Nanoparticulate drug delivery, Nanosilver dressings, Fluorescent biological labels

Household products
• Benefits: self-cleaning, anti-bacteria and anti-fouling properties
• Applications and Uses: water and air purification systems, deodorizers and anti-misting systems

Low Carbon Technologies
• Benefits: environmentally friendly with the goal to reduce CO2 production
• Applications and Uses: energy storage devices

• Benefits: products to improve transportation
• Applications and Uses: Anti-fouling coatings, sensors,

• Benefits: Stronger and lightweight materials, functionalised materials
• Applications and Uses: Anti-fouling coatings, Nanotube polymers, printed electronics

Oil and Gas
• Benefits: Safety monitoring, improved oil recovery, well management
• Applications and Uses: nanoparticles, novel sensors

• Benefits: employee monitoring, advancing imaging, better testing, new characterisation methods
• Applications and Uses: PPE equipment, stronger materials

• Benefits: tagging and tracking, monitoring, advancing sensors technology, improved RFID technology
• Applications and Uses: body armour, combating fraud with nanoparticle based inks

Sporting Goods and recreation
• Benefits: Stronger and durable products, enhanced fabrics, textiles embedded with sensors
• Applications and Uses: tennis balls, tennis rackets, hockey sticks

• Benefits: hospital garments, emergency clothing and PPE, fashion on demand
• Applications and Uses: Stain-resistant fabrics, self cleaning and anti-bacterial coatings, protection and detection, healthcare, new wearable textiles incorporating solar cells, sensors and self cleaning properties

• Benefits: enhanced displays and user interfaces
• Applications and Uses: airport information kiosk

The History Of Recent Nanotechnology Discoveries

What are the genuine and provable developments in the science of Nanotechnology which are or will shortly be in practical use?

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the science of engineering machines at the molecular level. It has permitted the restructuring of some matter at the atomic level. It will eventually permit the restructuring of any matter at the atomic level. Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Richard Feynman forwarded the earliest theories of modern day Nanotechnology. True Nanotechnology where we can basically make anything out of nothing is predicted to be here anywhere from 5 to 15 years. As R&D progresses exponentially, it will probably be here in 3-4 years. You will be able to use a unit similar in appearance to a microwave to produce any material thing out of thin air.

What are its most recent ground breaking discoveries in Nanotechnology?

One easily comprehended and appreciated device made possible by Nanotechnology is the Nanotube. A Nanotube is stronger than diamonds but thinner than the human hair - fifty thousand times thinner than the human hair to be exact. This particular Nano-creation is being considered for a multiplicity of uses including but not limited to flat screen TV and computer monitor tubes and a cable to outer space to run vehicles on.

From the Nanotube technology is being developed to help write circuit boards to create the Nano-computers that are eagerly longed for.

The Nanobelt is a discovery which will enable microscopic conductivity, speeding the arrival of miniature everything (everything electrical anyway). Made of oxide dust particles, these are the purest, cleanest uniform wires yet developed and highly praised for their possible applications.

Nanofilms have been developed with properties that increase the durability and versatility of films and coatings for various microscopic uses yet to be determined.

Nanoparticles are a discovery that will enable direct absorption in the body of many medicines which could not hereforeto be so absorbed. We also now have the ability to send electric signals through molecules and measure amounts sent.

The existence of biological engines (molecular level biological machines that are naturally occurring) and their use in non-biological sciences has also been discovered. There are literally small machines occurring naturally in living organisms that do things; these machines are being adapted.

What does this mean to you and your future?

In the simplest terms, we will have control of this life beyond all levels of imagination in every facet of it. Here is some of the breakdown.


Conductivity will be sent through anything, to anything, for any imaginable or unimaginable purpose. Much smaller computer chips working together in and with every part of our bodies, minds and environments will be common place. Note the commercials for the imbedded computer chips already available.


Together with other sciences Nanotechnology will make things far beyond that of Star Trek possible and even common place. Beam you up? Beam you anywhere, absolutely.


DuPont has already designed and built a unique protein that is not a duplicate of an existing protein. Eventually catalysts will be developed to speed many common or uncommon chemical reactions making manufacturing infinitely more time and cost effective. Customized DNA already exists thanks to chemical divisions of Nanotechnology.

Plants (living organisms) will be developed which will in and of themselves be producers of wholly complete medicinal drugs. The plants themselves will be complete pharmacological manufacturers.

Eventually we will have available something close to immortality. The immune system itself will be able to be rebuilt from top to bottom, as will you. If there is time to restructure your cells before you die then you can live on. Only some accident or fate that leaves you dead before anything can be done would conceivably end your life. Otherwise your cells from top to bottom could be renewed again and again. And even then, if one day it is built in to humanity to replace ones own cells automatically, one would have to be utterly destroyed for ones life to end.

Any imaginable plant or animal life species could also be invented, altered or replicated.

As one science of Nanotechnology crosses over into another, we will have DNA level computers, the potential for genuine Cyborgs that replicate themselves (such as in Star Trek's The Borg) and countless other possibilities. Obviously the potential for evil use as well as good is as much there as with atomic power and atomic bombs. We survived the one; we should survive the other.

Future developments in the lifetimes of those now 40 years old and younger will likely include removing all pollutants from any manufacturing process, curing all diseases, and making all of us extremely wealthy by comparison with today's economy.

In the future we will be building Nano devices from the bottom up instead of from the top down. Where before we have tried to build machines smaller and smaller, we will look at the molecular machines already in existence in nature and adapt them.

Applications of Nanotechnology- A general view

Physicists all over the world are concentrating on application oriented Physics rather than Fundamental Physics. The Physics of the Nanoworld is the latest field of active research in this century. The last few years has seen a gold rush to claim patents at the nanoscale. Over 800 nano-related patents were granted in 2003, and the numbers are increasing year to year. Corporations are already taking out broad-ranging patents on nanoscale discoveries and inventions. Corporations like NEC and IBM, hold the basic patents on carbon nanotubes, one of the current cornerstones of Nanotechnology. Carbon NanoTubes (CNT) have a wide range of uses, and look set to become crucial to several industries from electronics and computers, to strengthened materials to drug delivery and diagnostics. Hewlett-Packard has proposed the use of a Nanomaterial called "Memristor" as a future replacement of Flash memory.

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology, shortened to "nanotech", is the study of controlling of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally nanotechnology deals with structures sized between 1 to 100 nanometer in at least one dimension, and involves developing materials or devices within that size. One nanometer (nm) is one billionth, or 10−9 of a meter. By comparison, typical Carbon-Carbon Bond-Lengths, or the spacing between these atoms in a molecule, are in the range 0.12–0.15 nm, and a DNA double-helix has a diameter around 2 nm. On the other hand, the smallest cellular life-forms, the bacteria of the genus Mycoplasma are around 200 nm in length.

A number of physical phenomena become pronounced as the size of the system decreases. The electronic properties of solids are altered with great reductions in particle size. Quantum mechanical effects and Statistical mechanical effects become dominant when the nanometer size range is reached. A number of physical (mechanical, electrical, optical, etc.) properties change at such dimensions when compared to macroscopic systems. One example is the increase in surface area to volume ratio altering mechanical, thermal and catalytic properties of materials. Diffusion reactions at nanoscale, nanostructure materials and nanodevices with fast ion transport are generally referred to Nanoionics.

Mechanical properties of Nanosystems are of interest in the Nanomechanics research. Materials reduced to the nanoscale can show different properties compared to what they exhibit on a macro scale, enabling unique applications. For instance

1) Opaque substances become transparent (copper);

2) Stable materials turn combustible (aluminum);

3) Insoluble materials become soluble (gold).

4) A material such as gold, which is chemically inert at normal scales, can serve as a potent chemical catalyst at nano scales.

Much of the fascination with nanotechnology stems from these quantum and surface phenomena that matter exhibits at the nanoscale.

Nanotechnology and Nanoscience got a boost in the early 1980s with two major developments: the birth of Cluster Science and the invention of the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM). This development led to the discovery of "Fullerenes" in 1985 and the structural assignment of "Carbon Nanotubes" a few years later. In another development, the synthesis and properties of semiconductor Nanocrystals were studied. This led to a fast increasing number of Semiconductor nanoparticles and Quantum dots. Quantum dots are nanoscale objects, which can be used, among many other things, for the construction of lasers. The advantage of a Quantum dot laser over the traditional semiconductor laser is that their emitted wavelength depends on the diameter of the dot. Quantum dot lasers are cheaper and offer a higher beam quality than conventional laser diodes.


Nanomedicine is the application of Nanotechnology in Medicine. The approaches to Nanomedicine range from the medical use of Nanomaterials to Nanoelectronic biosensors, and even possible future applications of Molecular Nanotechnology. Nanomedicine predicts to deliver a valuable set of research tools and clinically helpful devices in the near future. The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NIN) expects new commercial applications in the pharmaceutical industry that may include advanced drug delivery systems, new therapies, and In-Vivo imaging. Neuro-electronic interfaces and other Nanoelectronic-based sensors are another active goal of research. Further down the line, the speculative field of Molecular Nanotechnology believes that cell repair machines could revolutionize medicine and the medical field.

Nanotechnology has been used in the medical field in delivering drugs to specific cells using nanoparticles. The overall drug consumption and side-effects can be lowered significantly by depositing the active agent in the morbid region only and in no higher dose than needed. This highly selective approach reduces costs and human suffering. Use of Dendrimers (Dendrimers are repeatedly branched, roughly spherical large molecules) and nanoparticles in Targeted and controlled drug delivery, is an emerging field of research called Nanobiopharmacuetics. The basic point to use drug delivery is based upon three facts: a) efficient encapsulation of the drugs, b) successful delivery of said drugs to the targeted region of the body, and c) successful release of that drug there.

NEMS (Nano Electro-Mechanical Systems) are being investigated for the active release of drugs in patients. Some potentially important applications include cancer treatment with iron nanoparticles or gold shells. A targeted or personalized medicine reduces the drug consumption and treatment expenses resulting in an overall social benefit by reducing the costs to the public health system. Nanotechnology is also opening up new opportunities in implantable delivery systems, which are often preferable to the use of injectable drugs, because the latter frequently display first-order kinetics (the blood concentration goes up rapidly, but drops exponentially over time). This rapid rise may cause difficulties with toxicity, and drug efficacy can diminish as the drug concentration falls below the targeted range.

In 1965, Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel Corporation, made the outstanding prediction that the number of transistors that could be fit in a given area would double every 18 months for the next ten years. This it did and the phenomenon became known as "Moore's Law" This trend has continued far past the predicted 10 years until this day, going from just over 2000 transistors in the original 4004 processors of 1971 to over 700,000,000 transistors in the Core2 Processor. There has, of course, been a corresponding decrease in the size of individual electronic elements, going from millimeters in the 60's to hundreds of nanometers in modern circuitry of this millennium. In 1999, the ultimate CMOS transistor developed at the Laboratory for Electronics and Information Technology in Grenoble, France, tested the limits of the principles of the MOSFET transistor with a diameter of 18 nm (approximately 70 atoms placed side by side). This was almost one tenth the size of the smallest industrial transistor in 2003 (130 nm in 2003, 90 nm in 2004, 65 nm in 2005 and 45 nm in 2007). It enabled the theoretical integration of seven billion junctions on a €1 coin. However, the CMOS transistor, which was created in 1999, was not a simple research experiment to study how CMOS technology functions, but rather a demonstration of how this technology functions on a molecular scale. Manufacturers like NANTERO have developed a Carbon Nano Tube (CNT) based crossbar memory called Nano-RAM. Carbon nanotubes are electrically conductive and due to their small diameter of several nanometers, they can be used as field emitters with extremely high efficiency for field emission display (FED). The principle of operation resembles that of the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) but on a much smaller length scale. The production of displays with low energy consumption could be accomplished using CNT.

In the modern communication technology traditional analog electrical devices are increasingly replaced by optical or Optoelectronic devices due to their enormous bandwidth and capacity, respectively. Two promising examples are Photonic Crystals and Quantum Dots. Photonic crystals are materials with a periodic variation in the refractive index with a lattice constant that is half the wavelength of the light used. They offer a selectable energy band gap for the propagation of a certain wavelength. Thus they resemble a semiconductor, though not for electrons, but for Photons. Nanolithography is that branch of nanotechnology, which deals with the study and application of fabrication of nanoscale structures like semiconductor circuits. As of 2007, Nanolithography has been is a very active area of research in academia and in industry.

Quantum Computers use the Laws of Quantum Mechanics for computing fast quantum Algorithms. The Quantum computer has quantum bit memory space termed "Qubit" for several computations at the same time. This facility may improve the performance of the older systems.

An inevitable use of nanotechnology will be in heavy industry. Lighter and stronger materials will be of immense use to aircraft manufacturers, leading to increased performance. Spacecraft will also benefit, where weight is a major factor. Nanotechnology would help to reduce the size of equipment and thereby decrease fuel-consumption required to get it airborne.

Another useful application is Nanobatteries. Because of the relatively low energy density of batteries the operating time is limited and a replacement or recharging is needed. The huge number of spent batteries and accumulators represent a disposal problem. The use of batteries with higher energy content or the use of rechargeable batteries or Super- capacitors with higher rate of recharging using Nanomaterials could be helpful for the battery disposal problem.

The most prominent application of nanotechnology in the household is self-cleaning or "easy-to-clean" surfaces on ceramics or glasses. Nanoceramic particles have improved the smoothness and heat resistance of common household equipment such as the flat iron. The use of engineered nanofibers already makes clothes water- and stain-repellent or wrinkle-free. Textiles with a nanotechnological ‘finish' can be washed less frequently and at lower temperatures. Nanotechnology has been used to integrate tiny carbon particles membrane and guarantee full-surface protection from electrostatic charges for the wearer.

New foods are among the nanotechnology-created consumer products coming onto the market at the rate of 3 to 4 per week, according to the ‘Project on emerging Technologies' (PEN), based on an inventory it has drawn up of 609 known or claimed nano-products. On PEN's list are three foods -- a brand of canola cooking oil called Canola Active Oil, a tea called Nanotea and a chocolate diet shake called Nanoceuticals Slim Shake Chocolate. According to company information posted on PEN's Web site, the canola oil, by Shemen Industries of Israel, contains an additive called "nanodrops" designed to carry vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals through the digestive system and urea. The shake, according to U.S. manufacturer RBC Life Sciences Inc., uses cocoa infused "NanoClusters" to enhance the taste and health benefits of cocoa without the need for extra sugar.

The joint use of Nanoelectronics, Photolithography and new biomaterials provides a possible approach to manufacturing Nanorobots for common medical applications, such as for surgical instrumentation, diagnosis and drug delivery. Nanorobotics is the technology of creating machines or Robots at or close to the microscopic scale of a Nanometer (10−9 meter). Another definition is a robot that allows precision interactions with nanoscale objects, or can manipulate with nanoscale resolution. Following this definition even a large apparatus such as an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) can be considered as a Nanorobotic instrument when configured to perform Nanomanipulation. Also, macro-scale robots or microrobots that can move with nanoscale precision can also be considered Nanorobots. Nanomachines are largely in the research-and-development phase, but some primitive molecular machines have been tested. An example is a sensor having a switch approximately 1.5 nanometers across, capable of counting specific molecules in a chemical sample.

There has been much debate on the future implications of Nanotechnology. Nanotechnology has the potential to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of issues as with the introduction of any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of Nanomaterials and their potential effects on global economics. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulations on Nanotechnology are warranted. Calls for tighter regulation of nanotechnology have occurred alongside a growing debate related to the human health and safety risks associated with nanotechnology. Reflecting the challenges for ensuring responsible life cycle regulation, the "Institute for food and Agriculture Standards" has proposed that, the standards for nanotechnology research and development should be integrated across consumer, worker and environmental standards. They also propose that NGOs and other citizen groups play a meaningful role in the development of these standards.

So what does this all mean? Right now, it means that scientists are experimenting with substances at the nanoscale to learn about their properties and how we might be able to take advantage of them in various applications. Engineers are trying to use nano-size wires to create smaller, more powerful microprocessors. Doctors are searching for ways to use nanoparticles in medical applications. Still, we've got a long way to go before nanotechnology dominates the technology and medical markets.

Nanotechnology – the new threat to food

Following on from genetic engineering, nanotechnology represents the latest high technology attempt to infiltrate our food supply. Senior scientists have warned that nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the scale of atoms and molecules, introduces serious new risks to human and environmental health. Yet in the absence of public debate, or oversight from regulators, unlabelled foods manufactured using nanotechnology have begun to appear on our supermarket shelves.

Around the world there is an increase in interest in our food, health and environment. Where are products produced, how, why, by whom, how far have they travelled, how long have they been stored etc. The organic and local food movements have emerged as an intuitive and practical response to the increasing use of chemicals in food production, and to the growing alienation of industrial agribusiness from holistic agricultural systems. People have chosen to eat organic foods because they care about the health of their families and the health of the environment. Organic agriculture also enables people to support integrated, environmentally friendly agriculture, and appropriate technology, rather than chemical-intensive factory farming.

Support for organics has also grown as a direct response to biotechnology giants’ efforts to genetically engineer our food crops. Farmers and food buyers around the world were, and continue to be, enraged by the introduction of genetically engineered food crops. For many, the inevitable conclusion was that whereas the biotechnology companies stood to benefit from the entry of genetically engineered foods into the food chain, consumers, farmers and the environment shouldered all the risks.

Now, nanotechnology introduces a new wave of assaults on our foods. Nanotechnology is the high technology, atomically processed antithesis to organic agriculture, which values the natural health-giving properties of fresh, unprocessed wholefoods. It further transforms the farm into an automated extension of the high technology factory production line, using patented products that will inevitably concentrate corporate control. It also introduces serious new risks for human health and the environment.

Introduction to nanotechnology – what is it, why is it different

Nanotechnology is a powerful new technology for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the atomic and molecular level. Nanotechnology embodies the dream that scientists can remake the world from the atom up, using atomic level manipulation to transform and construct a wide range of new materials, devices, living organisms and technological systems.

Nanotechnology and nanoscience involve the study of phenomena and materials, and the manipulation of structures, devices and systems that exist at the nanoscale, <100 nanometres (nm) in size. To put 100nm in context: a strand of DNA is 2.5nm wide, a protein molecule is 5nm, a red blood cell 7,000 nm and a human hair is 80, 000 nm wide.

The properties of nanoparticles are not governed by the same physical laws as larger particles, but by quantum mechanics. The physical and chemical properties of nanoparticles – for example, colour, solubility, strength, chemical reactivity and toxicity - can therefore be quite different from those of larger particles of the same substance.

The altered properties of nanoparticles have created the possibility for many new profitable products and applications. Engineered nanoparticles are used in literally hundreds of products that are already available on supermarket shelves – including transparent sunscreens, light-diffracting cosmetics, penetration enhanced moisturisers, stain and odour repellent fabrics, dirt repellent coatings, long lasting paints and furniture varnishes, and even some food products.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Centre for Technology Foresight has predicted that nanotechnology will revolutionise all aspects of our economy and all aspects of society, with associated large-scale social upheaval.

How will nanotechnology be used for food production and processing?

Industry analysts and proponents predict that nanotechnology will be used to transform food from the atom up: “Thanks to nanotechnology, tomorrow’s food will be designed by shaping molecules and atoms. Food will be wrapped in “smart” safety packaging that can detect spoilage or harmful contaminants. Future products will enhance and adjust their color, flavor, or nutrient content to accommodate each consumer’s taste or health needs. And in agriculture, nanotechnology promises to reduce pesticide use, improve plant and animal breeding, and create new nano-bioindustrial products” – or so states the US Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies’ recent report on the use of nanotechnology in food and agriculture (available at http://www.nanotechproject.org).

The food and agriculture industries have been investing billions of dollars into nanotechnology research, with an unknown number of unlabeled nano food products already on the market. In the absence of mandatory product labelling anywhere in the world, it is impossible to tell how many commercial food products now contain nano ingredients. The Helmut Kaiser Consultancy Group, a pro-nanotechnology analyst, suggests that there are now over 300 nano food products available on the market worldwide. It estimates that the global nano food market was worth US$5.3 billion in 2005 and will rise to US$20.4 billion by 2010. It predicts that nanotechnology will be used in 40% of the food industries by 2015.

There are four key focus areas for nanotechnology food research:
• Nano-modification of seed and fertilisers/ pesticides
• Food ‘fortification’ and modification
• Interactive ‘smart’ food
• ‘Smart’ packaging and food tracking

Nano-modification of seed and fertilisers/ pesticides

Proponents say that nanotechnology will be used to further automate the modern agribusiness unit. All farm inputs – seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and labour – will become increasingly technologically modified. Nanotechnology will take the genetic engineering of agriculture to the next level down – atomic engineering. Atomic engineering could enable the DNA of seeds to be rearranged in order to obtain different plant properties including colour, growth season, yield etc. Highly potent atomically engineered fertilisers and pesticides will be used to maintain plant growth. Nano-sensors will enable plant growth, pH levels, the presence of nutrients, moisture, pests or disease to be monitored from far away, significantly reducing the need for on-farm labour inputs. The concerned organisation, The Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) warns in its seminal report “Down on the Farm” (available at http://www.etcgroup.org), in a nanotechnology shaped future, “the farm will be a wide area biofactory that can be monitored and managed from a laptop and food will be crafted from designer substances delivering nutrients efficiently to the body”.

Food ‘fortification’ and modification

Nanotech companies are working to fortify processed food with nano-encapsulated nutrients, its appearance and taste boosted by nano-developed colours, its fat and sugar content removed or disabled by nano-modification, and ‘mouth feel’ improved. Food ‘fortification’ will be used to increase the nutritional claims that can be made about a given processed food – for example the inclusion of ‘medically beneficial’ nano-capsules will soon enable chocolate chip cookies or hot chips to be marketed as health promoting or artery cleansing. Nanotechnology will also enable junk foods like ice cream and chocolate to be modified to reduce the amount of fats and sugars that the body can absorb. This could happen either by replacing some of the fats and sugars with other substances, or by using nanoparticles to prevent the body from digesting or absorbing these components of the food. In this way, the nano industry could market vitamin and fibre-fortified, fat and sugar-blocked junk food as health promoting and weight reducing.

Interactive ‘smart’ food

Companies such as Kraft and NestlĂ© are designing ‘smart’ foods that will interact with consumers to ‘personalise’ food, changing colour, flavour or nutrients on demand. Kraft is developing a clear tasteless drink that contains hundreds of flavours in latent nanocapsules. A domestic microwave could be used to trigger release of the colour, flavour, concentration and texture of the individual’s choice. ‘Smart’ foods could also sense when an individual was allergic to a food’s ingredients, and block the offending ingredient. Or alternatively, ‘smart’ packaging could release a dose of additional nutrients to those which it identifies as having special dietary needs, for example calcium molecules to people suffering from osteoporosis.

‘Smart’ packaging and food tracking

Nanotechnology will dramatically extend food shelf life. Mars Inc. already has a patent on an invisible, edible, nano wrapper which will envelope foods, preventing gas and moisture exchange. ‘Smart’ packaging (containing nano-sensors and anti-microbial activators) is being developed that will be capable of detecting food spoilage and releasing nano-anti-microbes to extend food shelf life, enabling supermarkets to keep food for even greater periods before its sale. Nano-sensors, embedded into food products as tiny chips that were invisible to the human eye, would also act as electronic barcodes. They would emit a signal that would allow food, including fresh food, to be tracked from paddock to factory to supermarket and beyond.

What are the key concerns about nanotechnology in food and agriculture?

Concerns about the use of nanotechnology in agriculture and food production relate to the further automation and alienation of food production, serious new toxicity risks for humans and the environment, and the further loss of privacy as nano surveillance tracks each step in the food chain. The failure of governments to introduce laws to protect the public and the environment from nanotechnology’s risks is a most serious concern.

Nanotechnology in agriculture is based on the premise that we can improve efficiency and productivity by rearranging atoms in seeds, by developing even more potent chemical inputs, by using high technology surveillance to allow electronic, rather than person-based surveillance of on-farm conditions, and by further automating inputs to plant growth. Applications of nanotechnology to food processing assume that humans can ‘improve’ the taste, texture, appearance, nutritional content and longevity of food by manipulating it at the atomic level. It has even been argued that this will result in food that is ‘safer’.

These assumptions are based on a flawed belief that humans can remake the natural world from the atom up – and get a better result. It assumes that we can predict the consequences of our actions, even when we are dealing with highly unpredictable processes and forces – such as quantum mechanics. Unfortunately, history tells us that we are simply not very good at predicting the outcomes of complex systems – witness the disasters that resulted from the introduction of biological controls such as the Cane Toad, or the introduction of rabbits and foxes for sport. History is similarly littered with examples of huge health and environmental problems that resulted from the failure to respond to early warning signs about previous perceived “wonder” materials such as CFCs, DDT and asbestos. This suggests that we should take the early warning signs associated with the toxicity of nanoparticles very seriously.

There is a small but growing body of toxicological literature that suggests that nanoparticles are more reactive, more mobile, and more likely than larger particles to be toxic to humans and the environment. Preliminary scientific research has shown that many types of nanoparticles can result in increased oxidative stress which can result in the formation of free radicals that can lead to cancer, DNA mutation and even cell death. Fullerenes, carbon nanoparticles, have been found to cause brain damage in largemouth bass, a species accepted by regulatory agencies as a model for defining ecotoxicological effects.

In its 2004 report, the United Kingdom’s Royal Society recognised the serious risks of nanotoxicity and recommended that “ingredients in the form of nanoparticles should undergo a full safety assessment by the relevant scientific advisory body before they are permitted for use in products”. Despite this warning, two years after the Royal Society’s report, there are still no laws governing the use of nanomaterials in consumer products to ensure that they do not cause harm to the public using them, the workers producing them, or the environmental systems in which waste nanoproducts are released.

The use of nano-surveillance in food packaging will also introduce new privacy concerns. As the food industry’s use of nano-tracking increases, it will gain the capacity to track the movement of food from the paddock, to the factory, to the supermarket and to your dinner plate. This will raise serious new privacy issues for which we are poorly prepared.

Alarmingly, despite the release into supermarkets and into the environment of nano food and agriculture products, governments world wide have yet to introduce any regulation to manage nanotechnology’s risks.

The struggle for a healthy food future - what are the alternatives to nanotechnology?

What will our food and technological future look like? We are in an epic battle for control of our food supply. Corporate or community ownership, global or local, small versus massive, processed versus wholesome. These are the paradigms that we need to choose between. A key way to promote healthy, holistic agriculture is to support it with our purchasing choices. Certified organic foods offer you better health, a better environment and a way for you to support a nano-free food future. With personal care products, buy organic or from a company that states they do not use nanotechnology.

There are many ways to help create a healthy food future. Shop at a farmers market or buy from a box scheme direct from a farmer, buy from an organic store or from the organic section in a supermarket. Consider joining a community garden, or starting a garden of your own. Start an organic kitchen garden at your pre school or school. Read product labels, get involved and interested. Talk to your friends and family about the food issues that matter most to you. Let companies know through their 1800 feedback lines that you are concerned about the use of nanotechnology in their products. Tell your local member of parliament that you want to see products that contain engineered nano ingredients labelled to allow you to make an informed purchasing choice.

It is exciting to see food politics debated by our mainstream media and our research and education institutions. However while there are already unlabelled food products that contain engineered nano ingredients available in our supermarkets, nanotechnology is only just starting to gain some attention. There are no regulations in place to protect public and environmental health, and almost no corporate or public monies being spent looking at the long-term consequences of manipulating our food at the atomic level. The similarity to the introduction of genetic engineering with the added risk that there is no regulatory oversight is chilling.

We must all get politically active on nanotechnology just as we did with genetic engineering. It is essential that we get moratoria enacted on the use of nanotechnology until we have regulatory systems in place to protect human and environmental health, and until we have genuine public involvement in decision making regarding nanotechnology’s introduction. We must also ensure our Governments put our hard-earned taxpayer dollars into support for the organic sector.

Together, we can create a healthy food future that delivers to our community not corporate profits.

Nanotechnology (general)

In layman's terms, nanotechnology refers to materials, applications and processes designed to work on extremely tiny scales. A nanometre is one-billionth of a metre. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometres thick, while a single gold atom is about one-third of a nanometre in diameter.

Many unique properties and uses can be derived from structures built at the nanoscale, giving nanotechnology enormous potential for future development.

A relatively new and emerging field of science, nanotechnology was first alluded to in 1959, but remained largely theoretical until the 1980s. The invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) allowed the first direct manipulation of individual atoms.

Carbon nanotubes were demonstrated in 1991. These cylindrical structures were found to possess exceedingly high strength and unique electrical properties, as well as being highly efficient thermal conductors.

Various other structures were developed over the following two decades, each built on an atom-by-atom basis.

Today, nanotechnology is among the fastest growing areas of science and technology, with exponential progress being made. Just some of the recent breakthroughs have included:

The first integrated circuits using three-dimensional carbon nanotubes. These could be vital in maintaining the growth of computer power, allowing Moore's Law to continue.

Solar panels with greater efficiency through the use of nanotechnology materials.

Water purification bottles, with filters only 15 nanometres in width, allowing military personnel and also civilians hit by disasters to create safe drinking water (even if that water comes from a filthy source).

Military equipment made lighter and stronger through the use of nanomaterial composites.

Nanostructured polymers in display technologies allowing brighter images, lighter weight, less power consumption and wider viewing angles.

Nanotechnology surfaces which are highly resistant to bacteria, dirt and scratches.

New fabrics that are highly resistant to liquid, causing it to simply fall off without leaving any dampness or stains.

Nanostructured catalysts used to make chemical manufacturing processes more efficient, saving energy and reducing waste products.

Pharmaceutical products reformulated with nanosized particles to improve their absorption and make them easier to administer.

There are many other applications and the list is growing all the time. By 2025, nanotechnology is expected to be a mature industry, with countless mainstream products.

Further into the future, nanotechnology will play a major role in medicine and longevity. Blood cell-sized devices will go directly into the human body, eradicating pathogens and keeping people healthy. Full-immersion virtual reality and other advanced concepts will become possible through the use of these "nanobots".

Meanwhile, so-called "nanofabricators" would allow the creation of macro-scale objects on an atom-by-atom basis. Home appliances using this technology could serve as 3-D printers - downloading products from the web and literally building them from scratch. Physical items would each have their own code or algorithm that would program the machine to create them.

Quantum computers, invisibility cloaks and space elevators may one day become a reality, thanks to nanotech.

In the more distant future, nanotechnology could allow humans to make the transition to fully non-biological forms. Entire bodies and brains could be reconstructed at the atomic scale, leading to practical immortality.

Much debate has taken place on the implications of nanotechnology. It has the potential to create radically new materials and devices with a vast range of applications in engineering, medicine, electronics and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as with any introduction of new technology - including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is required.

Electrical Engineering and relation on Nanotechnology


Nanotechnology has affected nearly every field of Engineering and Science but most of the innovation and funding (private) in Nanotechnology came from Electronics giants, in search for making faster computers. The other fields that worked with nano electronics hand in hand were nano-photonics and nano-instrumentation. Also the marketing and making of nano gadgets started from the computers and mobiles which are the only machines made at nano scale that were available economically in the market at a very early stage. So it is of no doubt that the only area where nanotechnology penetrated deeply is electronics where it had lead to cost advantage and performance attributes especially in transistors and today we have 1 billion transistors in the latest processor. The backbone of nanotechnology in electronics are the results that we have taken from nano physics that is quantum physics and solid state physics because then we talk of things at nano scale these are the two stream of physics that helps us in predicting things. Eventually when we talk of electronics it is all about electrons and how we use them in various gadgets to get the required result. So it is very important to know electrons and how it behaves at nano scale in electronics.

Introduction and Importance Quantum Mechanics A fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics is the particle-wave duality, introduced by De Broglie, according to which any particle can be associated with a matter wave whose wavelength is inversely proportional to the particle's linear momentum. Whenever the size of a physical system becomes comparable to the wavelength of the particles that interact with such a system, the behavior of the particles is best described by the rules of quantum mechanics. All the information we need about the particle is obtained by solving its Schrodinger equation. The solutions of this equation represent the possible physical states in which the system can be found. But quantum mechanics is not required to describe the movement of objects in the macroscopic world. The wavelength associated with a macroscopic object is in fact much smaller than the object's size, and therefore the trajectory of such an object can be excellently derived using the principles of classical mechanics. Things change, for instance, in the case of electrons orbiting around a nucleus, since their associated wavelength is of the same order of magnitude as the electron-nucleus distance. We can use the concept of particle-wave duality to give a simple explanation of the behavior of carriers in a semiconductor nanocrystal. In a bulk inorganic semiconductor, conduction band electrons (and valence band holes) are free to move throughout the crystal, and their motion can be described satisfactorily by a linear combination of plane waves whose wavelength is generally of the order of nano-meters. This means that, whenever the size of a semiconductor solid becomes comparable to these wavelengths, a free carrier confined in this structure will behave as a particle in a potential box. The solutions of the Schrodinger equation in such case are standing waves confined in the potential well, and the energies associated with two distinct wave functions are, in general, different and discontinuous. This means that the particle energies cannot take on any arbitrary value, and the system exhibits a discrete energy level spectrum. Transitions between any two levels are seen as discrete peaks in the optical spectra, for instance. The system is then also referred to as ''quantum confined''. The main point here is that in order to rationalize (or predict) the physical properties of nanoscale materials, such as their electrical and thermal conductivity or their absorption and emission spectra, we need first to determine their energy level structure.


2.1 PRESENT STATE OF NANO-ELECTRONICS. Moore's law states that the number transistor on an integrated chip for a component doubles every two years. How ever this law does not holds perfectly true for RAM (Random Access memory). This does not mean that the number of transistor on a chip increases but about the density of transistors at which the cost per transistor is the lowest.Currently processors are fabricated at 90nm and 65nm that are being introduced by Intel. The 90 nanometer (90 nm) process refers to the level of semiconductor process or fabrication technology that wasachieved in the 2002-2003 period, by most leading semiconductor companies, like Intel, Texas Instruments, IBM etc. However it is not true for RAM and hard disk. New materials seeing possible use in nano-electronics and will probably keep this law on track. The future is seen as molecular electronics but there is lots of work still to be done to make that possible.

2.2.1 CMOS Nanotechnology

For the past several decades, miniaturization in silicon integrated circuits has pro- gressed steadily with an exponential scale described by Moore's Law. This incredible progress has generally meant that critical dimensions are reduced by a factor of two every three years, while chip density increases by a factor of four over this period. However, modern chip manufacturers have been accelerating this pace recently, and currently chips are being made with gate lengths in the 45 to 65 nm range. More scaling is expected, however, and 15-nm gate lengths are scheduled for production before the end of this decade.

In MOSFET there is electric field between the gate and the semiconductor is such that an inverted carrier population is created and forms a conducting channel. This channel extends between the source and drain regions, and the transport through this channel is modulated by the gate potential. As the channel length has gotten smaller, there has been considerable effort to incorporate a variety of new effects into the simple (as well as the more complex) models. These include short-channel effects, narrow width effects, degradation of the mobility due to surface scattering, hot carrier effects, and velocity overshoot. Ballistic transport in the MOSFET (discussed in later part) Thermodynamics is just as significant in limiting scaling as the preceding effects. The first way it limits scaling is in its control of the subthreshold behavior of MOSFETs. The subthreshold current of a MOSFET originates in the high-energy tail of the statistical distribution of carriers in its source region. The carriers in the source are governed by Fermi-Dirac statistics, and so the tail of the distribution is essentially Boltzmann.
There two major scattering regions - the barrier between the channel and the source and within the channel.

There also exists a phenomenon Granularity is the failure of thermodynamic averaging in small devices. Quantum behavior in the device, there are two effects and Effective Carrier Wave Packet . These effects also include tunneling through the gate insulator, tunneling through the band gap, quantum confinement issues, interface scattering, discrete atomistic effects in the doping and at interfaces, and thermal problems associated with very high power densities.
Ballistic Properties:-
It is the phenomenon where the the contribution in electrical resistivity due to scattering by the atoms, molecules or impurities in the medium itself, is negligible or absent meaning the electron can move without hindrances. There is no loss of kinetic energy due to collision of hitting of electrons with atom of metal thereby electrons move in a mean free path where it can move freely.

Quantum mechanical scaling limitations include both confinement effects and tun- neling effects. Confinement effects occur when electron or hole wave functions are squeezed into narrow spaces between barriers. In FETs this primarily happens in the channel, where the charges are squeezed between the gate insulator on one side and the built-in field of the body on the other side. Quantum confinement in this approximately triangular well raises the ground state energy of the electrons or holes, which increases the threshold voltage, and shifts the mean position of the carriers a little farther from the Si-SiO2 interface. Quantum mechanical tunneling is generally more detrimental to scaling than the Confinement effects. When electrons or holes tunnel through the barriers of the FET, it causes leakage current. As scaling continues, this ultimately causes unacceptable increases in power dissipation. The leakage may also cause some types of dynamic logic circuits to lose their logic state, but the former problem usually seems to arise first.

There are primarily two forms of tunneling leakage: tunneling current through the gate insulator, and tunneling current through the drain-to-body junction. The atomistic effects that cause limitations to scaling are those in which the discreteness of matter gives rise to large statistical variations in small devices. These statistical variations occur because the atoms or molecules tend to display Poisson statistics in their number or position, and the Poisson distribution for small numbers can become very wide.
2.2.2 Memory
As the semiconductor device feature size enters the sub-50-nm range, two new effects come into play. One is the quantum effect, which is rooted in the wave nature of the charge carriers, and gives rise to non classical transport effects such as resonant tunneling and quantum interference. The other is related to the quantized nature of the electronic charge, often manifested in the so-called single-electron effect: Charging each electron to a small confined region requires a certain amount of energy in order to overcome the Coulomb repulsion; if this charging energy is greater than the thermal energy, kb*T (kb Boltzman constant, T temperature), a single electron added to the region could have a significant effect on other electrons entering the confined region.

To increase the storage density of semiconductor memories, the size of each memory cell must be reduced. A smaller memory cell also leads to higher speed and lower power consumption. This is the incentive for studying the nanoscale semiconductor memory. One of the general schemes for semiconductor data storage is by storing charges on a capacitor. The charged state and the uncharged state can be used to represent binary information 1 and 0, respectively. Usually charges are transferred to the capacitor through a resistive. The motivation for this work is to investigate the ultimate limit of a floating gate MOS memory. In a conventional floating gate memory, there are typically on the order of 10 to power 4 electrons stored on the floating gate to represent one bit of information. The ultimate limit in scaling down the floating gate memory is to use only one electron for the same purpose, hence the name "single-electron MOS memory" (SEMM). The advantage of such a memory is that not only can it be very small, but also it can provide some unique characteristics that are not available in the conventional device, such characteristics as quantized threshold voltage shift and quantized charging voltage.

To make single-electron memory practical, both thermal fluctuation and quantum fluctuations of the stored charge have to be minimized. In order to reduce the variation in the device structure, we would like to build a single-electron memory device in crystalline silicon that has well-controlled dimensions. We defined the transistor channel and the floating gate by using lithography. Finally, the single-electron memory potentially has a number of advantages over conventional memories: (1) the quantized characteristics of the device make it immune to the noise from the environment-unless the noise level reaches a certain threshold, it will not affect the memory state. The immunity to noise is especially important for the future terabits integration, simply because of the sheer large number of devices present on a single small chip area. (2) the inherent quantized nature of the SEMM makes it possible to easily implement multilevel logic storage in a single memory cell; (3) the device can operate at a higher speed due to the use of only one or few electrons during writing and erasing; (4) for the same reason, the device can also have ultralow power consumption.

Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), which are graphite cylinders made of a hexagonal carbon-atom lattice, have drawn a great deal of interests due to their Fundamental research importance and tremendous potential technical applications . For Example, they might play an important role in future molecular electronic devices, such as room-temperature single electron and field-effect transistors , and rectifiers . A SWNT can be either a semiconductor or a metal, depending on its helicity and diameter. The electronic properties of the SWNT have been the subject of an increasing number of experimental and theoretical studies since 1995. And it is expected that very soon SWNT will see it's application in Nano electronics. SWNT is going to see it's application in transistors where it can reduce the gate length and also reduce leakage current. SWNTs have very low electrical resistance. Resistance occurs when an electron get deflected away from its path, when it is traveling through a material. In a 3-D conductor, electrons have plenty of opportunity to scatter, since they can do so at any angle. All these scatterings will give rise to electrical resistance. The situation is different in 1D. In a truly 1D conductor, however, electrons can only travel forward or backward. Only backscattering will lead to electrical resistance. But backscattering in nanotubes is impeded by the special symmetry of graphite and carbon nanotubes, and is therefore less likely to happen. Because of this, electrons can travel in nanotubes for long distances without being scattered, and this type of ballistic transport has been observed experimentally


A nanowire is a wire of dimensions of the order of a nanometer. They are also called quantum wires because their properties are governed by quantum mechanics. They can be used to link or connect tiny component is nanocircuits. They are referred as 1 dimensional materials (because their length to width ratio is very high). The electrons here are quantum confined and occupy different energy levels than those of bulk material. They will see their application in electronics, opto-electronics and Micro Electro mechanical systems. They will be seeing possible applations in future molecular electronic devices, as resonant tunneling diodes, single-electron transistors, and field effect structures and also in making logic gates.


It is the semiconductor nanostructure which exhibits the phenomenon of confining motions of electrons of conduction, valence or excitons in all three spatial directions. They have superior quantum and optical properties and are being researched for diode laser, amplifier, sensors, etc. They are also seeing application in Light Emitting Diodes(Quantum Dot Single Electron Device). The ability to control electron charging of a capacitive node by individual electron makes there devices suitable for memory application. A quantum well is a potential well that confines particles, which were originally free to move in three dimensions, to two dimensions, forcing them to occupy a planar region.

3. MANUFACTURING CHALLENGES Nanofabrication is being developed to construct devices such as resonant tunneling diodes and transistors and single electron transistors and carbon nanotube transistors. The most common type of transistor being developed for use at the nanoscale is the field effect transistor. Economics issues are constraining nano-electronics to hit market. Two ways of manufacturing nano materials are:-

1. Bottom up self assembly (wet chemistry) In this type of fabrication we start from atoms or molecules to get to the desired material.
2. Top down self assembly (Lithography and derivatives) In this type of fabrication the bulk material is broken down into smaller pieces. Thought we have knowledge about many new materials and their physics at nanoscale but to get the technology economically available (cost effective) and to get the state of art levels of manufacturing nanomaterials is still under development.

Nanotechnology - Future uses

It is difficult to predict when exactly nanotechnology assemblers or assembly stations will be operational to make nanotechnology a worldwide commercial reality. However here are a few potential results of the use of nanotechnology:

The replication of anything including water and food completely eliminating famine and poverty because production costs of nearly all products - including food - will drop to near-zero.

In the information technology industry, the smallest size of transistors on silicon microprocessors is about to reach it's limit. Moore's Law predicts that by about 2015 we must be working at the molecular level to advance. Nanotechnology will enable the development of a new generation of smaller more powerful components. In fact one of the specific goals of the U.S. government's nanotechnology initiative is to develop a memory device approximately the size of a sugar cube capable of storing all the information in the U.S. national library. PCs with comparable speeds of current equipment will be the size of a grain of sand and will be capable of operating for decades on one small battery. So effectively nanotechnology will make computers disappear; they will be in our bodies, clothing, refrigerators, buildings, absolutely everywhere. As materials will be engineered on the molecular scale they will incorporate computation in the same way that certain materials have a specific colour. Within the next 25 years scientists will have reverse-engineered the physical processes in the human brain that result in thought, which will lead to biologically inspired computer software (artificial intelligence) enabling materials to "think" for themselves.

In the medical industry, medicines could contain nanorobots programmed to destroy the molecular structure of cancer cells and viruses. Nanorobots could be used by surgeons to change your physical appearance or perform operations without leaving a scar. It may even be possible that nanorobots could slow or reverse the aging process. Nanotechnology and biotechnology will be combined to create ingestable systems that will be able to tell medics the location of diseased cells and the type of disease. At some point disease and genetic defects will be eliminated through the alteration of the body at the atomic level, effectively re-coding your DNA.

Environmentally friendly airborne nanorobots could be programmed to rebuild the ozone layer atom by atom. Water sources could be purified saving millions of lives and oil spillages could be removed quickly and completely. The dependence on the Earth's natural resources for our energy would also be eliminated and pollution would be a thing of the past because pollutants can be reduced to their component atoms and recycled.

For the hearing impaired nanotechnology machines will use advanced speech recognition to create subtitles automatically and on the fly. Blind people will have reading machines that could be incorporated into clothing that would use advanced text recognition allowing the user to read signs, menus, displays etc. Smilar nanotechnology devices will also be used to translate text information from one language to another.

Virtual reality will become much more life-like, glasses will be able to display images directly onto our retinas and contact lenses will allow full-immersion virtual reality.

The house of the future will use nanotechnology to be able to change colour to whatever you decide and generate more electricity than it consumes.
Aerospace and automotive materials will change substantially. Currently aluminium, nickel, and titanium alloys and carbon fibre composites are used but in the future materials made of lightweight, high-strength carbon nanotubes will be used. Carbon nanotubes are the world's strongest material in terms of tensile strength and they are lightweight and flexible. This will result in aircraft and cars being 100 times lighter and therefore would be much more fuel efficient. As the graphite (the carbon allotrope in the nanotubes) has a network of hexagonal rings it has many unpaired electrons. Therefore carbon nanotubes conduct electricity and heat amazingly well and are being considered for use as wires for nanosized electronic devices in future computers, charge-storage devices in batteries, and electron guns for semiconductor chip etching and flat-screen televisions and computer monitors. They also could store hydrogen gas to power fuel cells. Thus, there is intense interest in finding a way to produce nanotubes in large quantities.