Week 9_ Nanotechnology by Joseph Duy Nguyen

Nanotechnology is currently one of the most rapidly growing fields in the scientific community. The possibilities with nanotechnology are enormous due to the change in chemical properties of matter on the atomic and molecular scale. For example, gold which is normally inert and stable at the macroscale can be used as a chemical catalyst at the nanoscale. Nanotech utilizes matter that is at the level of a billionth of a meter, 10-9 of a meter. The most promising development with nanotech has to do with a family of carbon allotropes called fullerenes. Fullerenes are composed entirely of carbon shaped into spherical, ellipsoidal, tubal, or plane shapes. Buckyballs, spherical shaped fullerenes,  are of special interest due to their ability to hold hydrogen, and possibly other elements, within themselves. This discovery gives buckyball has the potential to be the container for hydrogen in hydrogen fuel cell car. Hydrogen fuel cell car is highly valued due to its pollution-free operation. But due to no method of cost-effectively storing large amount of hydrogen, it is currently out of the question. However, with this, hydrogen fuel cell car might be possible in the near future.

The nanotechnology industry has developed some very interesting technological innovative products. The Aerogel Footwarmer designed by Aergogels is currently in use by the military special task force. This footwarmer utilizes the property of nanoparticles to enable a better foot insulation with less thickness. It currently gives 3-to-20 times more thermal performance at a given thickness compared to other foot insulations. Medicinal nanotech products are also on the market. The Flex Power joint and muscle pain cream boasts the ability of using 90 nanometer liposomes to soothe muscle aches. Many pro athletes have invested in this technology. Beauty products such as skin care has now include nanomaterials to aid in its performance. Another very interesting technological product is the Nanosilver Wound Dressing for burn victims. It uses nanoemulsive disinfectant cleaner to clean and disinfect wounds in one step. This is a lot more convenient than the conventional only-cleaner or only-disinfect products. As seen, nanotechnology is being integrated into all aspects of consumer products without many people actually aware of it.

Skin product used by athletes containing nanotech.

Skin product used by athletes containing nanotech.

Wound dressing product using nanotech.

Wound dressing product using nanotech.

As with any new technology, there always exist many risks and unknowns. Similar to GM products, the use of nanotechnology carries the risk of unknown long term effects to the environment and its inhabitants. Many scientists are afraid that nanoparticles pollution may pose a health risk to humans. The case study conducted by Eva Oberdörster, Ph.D., with Southern Methodist University in Texas found extensive brain damage in fishes exposed to fullerene for only 48 hours at a moderate dosage. This gives some substance to why certain scientists have been against the development of nanotechnology for widespread application.

Here are two links I came upon when I was writing this blog:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jqQxuVncmc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf0PljUVE-I&feature=related

-Joseph Duy Nguyen

One Response to “Week 9_ Nanotechnology by Joseph Duy Nguyen”

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