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Nano world of science and technology is of great interest to governments, industries and
The prefix “nano” denotes sizes of the order of one billionth of a meter. “Nanostructure
science and technology is a broad and interdisciplinary area of research and development
activity that has been growing explosively worldwide in the past few years.
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
 refers to the scientific study of materials of nanometer size, i.e., one billionth of a meter
(The Royal Society, 1994).
 It is a combination of developments in solid state chemistry, synthetic chemistry, molecular
biology, solid state physics and engineering, and scanning tunneling microscopy.
 According to Alfred Nordmann (cited in Schummer, 2003), it is a “site-oriented
technoscience approach that differs both from classical theory-driven and problem-driven
research”. For example, nanosized indium melts at much lower temperature than respective
bulk metal (Allen, 2002). Copper in extremely thin layers, in the presence of magnetic field,
becomes a poor conductor of electricity (Loder, 2005).
 refers to various technologies to produce materials of extra high precision and dimensions
on the scale of one-billionth of a meter.
 “implies the ability to generate and utilize structures, components, and devices with a size
range from about 0.1nm (atomic and molecular scale) to about 100nm (or larger in some
situations) by control at atomic, molecular, and macromolecular levels” (Roco, 1999).
 One of the most interesting aspects of nanotechnology is building molecule-by- molecule
materials similar to those produced by biological self-assembly, selforganization and self-
regulation (Carraher, Jr., 1994b). As Stoddart (cited in The Royal Society, 1994) described,
“think of atoms as the equivalent to letters, molecules as words, assemblages of molecules
as sentences, and supramolecular arrays as paragraphs”.
Nanotechnology Examples:
1. Cell Pharmacology: Use of nanomachines for site-specific delivery of drugs, and useful in
chemotherapy of targeted cancer cells.
2. Cell Surgery: Use of medical nanomachines to manipulate cellular structures in genetic
3. Molecular Electronics: Use of atomically precise molecular parts for molecular switches,
circuits and nanocells for creating miniaturized nanocomputers.
4. Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (Carraher, Jr., 1995): Useful for imaging conducting surfaces.
Nanotechnology Applications
1. Nanocrystals: Formed by combining two or more molecules of inorganic substances, i.e.,
silica and aluminum to form commercial grade heat and rust resistant coatings.
2. Nanotubes: Carbon atom aggregates in various forms at nanoscale, for example in the shape
of cylinders which are electrical conductors, can be mixed with special polymers to make
nanofibres and painted on rooftops as part of solar cells.
3. Quantum Dots: Size and arrangement of nanocrystals impact physical properties such as
color (Carraher, Jr., 1994c). For example, nanogold appears orange (<1nm) or red (3- 30nm)
depending on the size and arrangement of gold aggregates. Clear Sunscreen containing
nanosized Zinc Oxide particles allows visible light to pass through and absorbs UV rays,
hence appears colorless whereas bulk Zinc Oxide in regular sunscreens scatters visible light
resulting in white color.


 The nanoworld is not without issues. The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC)
Committee on Technology in the United States raised concerns over the short term and long
term health issues originating from nanotechnology products.
 Certain types of single walled carbon nanotubes are water soluble and shown to enter T
cells (King, 2005). Carbon nanotubes are pulmonary toxicants. The British Government
(2005) in a regulatory effort required all new nano materials be treated with caution as new
chemicals in terms of registration, evaluation, authorization, and restriction.

Impact of nanotechnology

A. Health impact
 The health impacts of nanotechnology are the possible effects that the use of
nanotechnological materials and devices will have on human health.
 Nanotechnology's health impacts can be split into two aspects:
1. Medical applications
 Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology
 Nanomedicine research is directly funded, with the US National Institutes
of Health in 2005 funding a five-year plan to set up four nanomedicine
centers. In April 2006, the journal Nature Materials estimated that 130
nanotech-based drugs and delivery systems were being developed
worldwide. Nanomedicine is a large industry, with nanomedicine sales
reaching $6.8 billion in 2004. With over 200 companies and 38 products
worldwide, a minimum of $3.8 billion in nanotechnology R&D is being
invested every year. As the nanomedicine industry continues to grow, it is
expected to have a significant impact on the economy.
2. Health hazards
 Nanotoxicology is the field which studies potential health risks of
nanomaterials. The extremely small size of nanomaterials means that
they are much more readily taken up by the human body than larger
sized particles.
B. Environmental impact
 The environmental impact of nanotechnology is the possible effects that the use
of nanotechnological materials and devices will have on the environment.
 Nanotechnology's environmental impact can be split into two aspects:
1. Environmental applications
Green nanotechnology refers to the use of nanotechnology to enhance
the environmental sustainability of processes producing negative
It also refers to the use of the products of nanotechnology to enhance
It includes making green nano-products and using nano-products in
support of sustainability. Green nanotechnology has been described as
the development of clean technologies, "to minimize potential
environmental and human health risks associated with the manufacture
and use of nanotechnology products, and to encourage replacement of
existing products with new nano-products that are more environmentally
friendly throughout their lifecycle."
Green nanotechnology has two goals: producing nanomaterials and
products without harming the environment or human health, and
producing nano-products that provide solutions to environmental
2. Pollution
Nanopollution is a generic name for all waste generated by nanodevices
or during the nanomaterials manufacturing process.
Nanowaste is mainly the group of particles that are released into the
environment, or the particles that are thrown away when still on their
C. Social impact
 Beyond the toxicity risks to human health and the environment which are associated
with first-generation nanomaterials, nanotechnology has broader societal impact
and poses broader social challenges.
 Social scientists have suggested that nanotechnology's social issues should be
understood and assessed not simply as "downstream" risks or impacts. Rather, the
challenges should be factored into "upstream" research and decision-making in
order to ensure technology development that meets social objectives.

1. How is nanotechnology used in everyday life?
2. Why is nanotechnology bad?
3. List and describe common applications for nanotechnology aside from what is written in
your hand out.