I can’t stay that after this weeks lecture, I didn’t turn to the computer and lookup the word “Nanotechnology”. After some research, I have come to learn that nanotechnology is ever-present in our lives, representing the state of the art in advances in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science and mathematics.  From what I gathered, Nanotechnology’ is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers current work and concepts that are more advanced. In its original sense, nanotechnology refers to the projected ability to construct items “from the bottom up”, so to speak, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, highly advanced products. These products are in many ways molecular machinery, which has led to a manufacturing revolution. Nanotechnology is often referred to as a general-purpose technology. That’s because in its mature form it will have significant impact on almost all industries and all areas of society. It offers better built, longer lasting, cleaner, safer, and smarter products for the home, for communications, for medicine, for transportation, for agriculture, and for industry in general.img_nano2

            With all of this in mind, I turned to a more specific application of nanotechnology: medicine. Disease and sickness are caused largely by damage at the molecular and cellular level. Today’s surgical tools are large and from the viewpoint of a cell, even a scalpel is a blunt instrument that could potentially destroy, rather then heal.

Nanotechnology, “the manufacturing technology of the 21st century,” will allow scientists to complex molecular machines and molecular computers. It will let us build fleets of computer controlled molecular tools much smaller than a human cell, built with incredibly accuracy. These tools will let medicine, for the first time, intervene in a sophisticated and controlled way at the cellular and molecular level.

Nanotechnology will allow us new instruments to examine tissue in unprecedented detail. Sensors smaller than a cell would give us precise look at ongoing function. Tissue could be analyzed literally down to the molecular level, giving a completely detailed “picture” of cellular, subcellular and molecular activities.

menu-dendrimer-floating-189The Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences has a series of fascinating projects, one of which uses Biosensors, nanosensors, to monitor radiation-induced illness in space.  These biosensors, a project in association with NASA, are meant to be a non-invasive way to measure the biological affects of space travel of astronauts. When the nanosensors are placed into the blood cells of astronauts, they will provide “moment to moment” information on the astronaut’s health status. These molecules should also be able to administer therapeutics in response to the needs of astronauts to ensure their safety. I cannot say that I truly understand much of this technology, for an “outsider” to science, this seems unimaginable, but in many ways it is inspiring to know that these technologies are being created.  



by Diar Nejadeh

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