History of Nanotechnology

Knowing the history of nanotechnology will only help to better understand the advances that have been made in this field. Read on to know more about the brains behind this technology.
| Saturday, February 06, 2010
As I was growing up I remember being asked if I thought Science was a boon or a curse. That was the day I stood in front of the class and stated the reasons I thought it was a boon. Today years later as I sit to write about nanotechnology its uses and applications my belief in science is strengthened further. Nanotechnology is creating advances in the field of science which is making many new things possible everyday.

What is Nanotechnology?

The study of controlling matter on a molecular or atomic scale is known as nanotechnology. As the name suggests, nano technology operates at nanometers which is 1/1,000,000,000 i.e. one billionth of a meter. Nanotechnology uses are many and range from the creation of new materials to devices. Nanotechnology nanoscience applications are also large with medical nanotechnology, nanotechnology agriculture, nanotechnology chemistry as well as nanotechnology for healthcare being the most important. Of course as with the introduction of any new technology, nanotechnologies too raise concerns about the potential effects of nanomaterials on the environment. It is this reason that advocacy groups as well as the government are debating on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is needed.

Nanotechnology History

From time immemorial humans have used this technology in making paintings, steel and vulcanizing rubber but this concept was only mentioned in 1867 by James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell's Demon was James's experiment that was able to handle individual molecules. With time came size measurements of nano particles. This was done mostly by Richard Adolf Zsigmondy who published a book in 1914. To see particles that have sizes less that a wavelength of light Richard Zsigmondy used an ultramicroscope since it employs the dark filed method. The first system classification which was bases on the size of the particle was developed by Richard Zsigmondy. Of course the term nanotechnology as we know it today was first defined in the year 1974 by Norio Taniguchi.

The 20th century saw many significant developments in the field of nanomaterials and other fields related to it. Monolayer i.e. a layer of material that is one molecule thick was one such concept that was introduced by Katherine B. Blodgett and Irving Langmuir in the 1920's. The first measurement of surface force was conducted by Abrikosova and Derjaguin in the early 1950's. These and various other discoveries serve as the basis of nanotechnology as we know it today.

Importance of Nanotechnology

The new materials that are being created because of nanotechnology will greatly effect our environment, economy as well as our society one day. The powerful tool will help manufactures and researchers to work hand in hand to fabricate materials molecule by molecule. This can be done by collecting inaccessible properties of matter and then creating new structures that are more remarkable. Nanotechnology is bringing in vast benefits in medical technology by applying the principles to health care issues. With nanotechnology many applications have come forward in the medical filed. Nanotechnology for healthcare on the whole can be developed and devised with the help of which medical issues could be monitored, cured and prevented. Of course like all other sciences concerns and risks need to be monitored. Such is the growth of this field that various prominent nanotechnology companies are conducting more and experiments in this field.

Molecular nanotechnology as well as biomedical nanotechnology which are mentioned in the nanotechnology journal are fast becoming the most researched fields the world over. MNT or molecular nanotechnology  is anticipated to allow a technique that would make precise and positional assembly of molecule-sized building blocks possible. In the field of biomedical nanotechnology too considerable research is being conducted in the field of nanomadicine.