Week 9/ Nanotechnology/ Andrew Curnow

Making things smaller, that seems to be the goal of most electronics companies in the present day. From iPods to cameras, the idea of simultaneously decreasing size while increasing performance seems to be a near prerequisite of current day technology. In the general public’s point of, the “iPod Nano” is an innovative form of ‘nanotechnology’, and although indeed it follows the notion of shrinkage, the true science of nanotechnology dwells much deeper. Encyclopedia Britannica defines nanotechnology as: “Manipulation of atoms, molecules, and materials to form structures on the scale of nanometers (billionths of a meter).” This definition holds true, however the breadth as to what nanotechnology can truly achieve is extremely underestimated by the public. During the week of Professor Vesna’s lectures on nanotechnology the class covered various aspects of the term, as well as nanotech uses. From nanotube technology that can hypothetically, if not feasibly, achieve a ‘space elevator’ to the uses of nanotechnology in pinpointing specific atoms and making an atomic abacus, the obscurity of its uses is large. However in a more pertinent sense, the use of nanotechnology is the new expansionary frontier in the advancement of biotechnology. With the ability to go into a microscopic, even atomic realm with nanotech devices, researches are able to truly enter into the human body and even cells for medical purposes.

For my final project in DESMA 9 I chose to educate the public of Viruses and their effect on the human body. The basis of my topic fell under the current pandemic of AIDS caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The pandemic is currently one of the most feared issues of present day society. As I researched through nanotechnology I realized that in fact, nanotech is quickly closing into more effective, safe treatment to HIV. I encountered research at the University of Missouri that introduced an innovative form of drug distribution in the body. Using tiny machines, researchers were testing a device that would not only seek out cells infected with HIV, enter the cell through supersonic shockwaves that made the cells permeable for drug interaction, and set a small tracker that allowed a tracing of the diseased cell. The drug dispersing nanoparticles known as a ‘nanosponge’ would target areas of the body with high concentration of the disease. Though the drug would not be available for some time, it demonstrates the level on nanotechnology and its applicability in the medical world.

Though much testing utilizing biotechnology must be done before immediate use in certain fields, nevertheless its use is more than apparent. Even in an artistic sense, nanotechnology presents a new frontier. Designs on an atomic level give a human control of something they had never before been able to visualize. Overall, the uses of nanotechnology seem somewhat endless, and the new age that its use will bring is yet to be seen.




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