What is Nanotechnology?

Nano this, nano that, the word seems to be inescapable as the nanotechnology has been revolutionizing industries in ways never before considered possible. Yet, while many people may have heard of the term, very few actually know what it means or how it could affect their everyday lives.

 The definition of nanotechnology is, “all technology that deals with things smaller than 100 nanometers”. In case you don’t know, that is very, very, small. To put it in perspective, a period “ . ” on a piece of paper is one million nanometers. A sheet of paper is over 25 million nanometers thick. If a marble were a nanometer, then a meter would be the size of the earth.

The first question that probably comes to mind is, “why does working on the nanoscale provide such an advantage for scientists?” The answer comes from one of the biggest conundrums of our universe: the quantum realm. In school everyone is taught that the world is governed by a set of rules called classical mechanics (think Newton's laws of motion), and this is true - most of the time... However, when things move really fast, or we are dealing with extremely small pieces of matter, a new set of rules come into play: the quantum rules. When particles are created on the nanoscale, they are governed by this different set of rules, and as such their basic properties - melting point, conductivity, magnetic permeability, etc - change.

One of the most studied examples of nanoscale transformations is gold. Normally, gold is an inert particle (it doesn’t react easily, the main reason it does not corrode/tarnish). This comes from how gold atoms bond with each other. A typical gold particle of normal scale contains atoms which are all bonded with twelve other gold atoms. What this means is that most of the atoms in a particle are inside and away from the surface, making them unavailable for reaction. On the nanoscale when only a few atoms are involved, the majority of atoms are on the surface of the particle and open for reaction. This makes gold far more reactive, and even causes its color to change to red or purple.

While this is intriguing in the case of gold, it might still be hard to see where all of the hype around nanotechnology is coming from. Greater reactivity, changing colors, increased surface area- these properties viewed on their own certainly don’t seem exciting enough to warrant the head-over-heels reactions of scientists that we are seeing today.

The drug company, Immusoft, is working with nanoparticles to potentially reinvent the way medicine gets delivered to our body. Typically, creating a drug and bringing it to market is a wildly expensive process. These high barriers to entry slow the speed at which potentially life saving medicine can come to the market. However, with nanotechnology, Immusoft is working on a way to deliver patients new genetic information that will allow their own immune systems to synthesize the medicines they need. While it has not been tested on humans yet, the potential for the technology could change the world as we know it today.

This is just one of the myriad ways in which nanotechnology is revolutionizing the world as we know it. The scientists at VERI NANO are among the pioneers of nanotechnology and are paving the way to a future in which the world of science fiction becomes that of reality. Stay tuned by joining our email list and following our social media accounts to find out the ways in which VERI NANO is pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

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