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Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Brief History of Nanotechnology: Part 5 - A Glimpse at the Future

Over the last few weeks, we've touched on the history of nanotechnology, tracing its roots as far back as the ancient world, examining its emergence as a field of study in the second half of the 20th century and outlining a number of more recent advances. In this, the final instalment of the series, we look at how nanotechnology might develop even further in the not too distant future.

In 2006 a Scientific American article estimated that between 1997 and 2005, "investment in nanotech research and development by governments around the world soared from $432 million to about $4.1 billion and that by 2015, products incorporating nanotech will contribute approximately $1 trillion to the global economy". This increase of investment in and around nanotechnology could have far-reaching effects, impacting everything from how we manufacture products to how we fight diseases, such as cancer. 

One speculative area of nanotechnology that could be very exciting for instance, is molecular manufacturing, which when put simplistically is "the ability to bring materials to life from the simple molecular reconstruction of everyday beings" an idea that Richard Feynman first described in 1959.  And in 1999, claims went even further, stating that molecular nanotechnology "will let us make remarkably powerful molecular computers. It will let us make materials over fifty times lighter than steel or aluminium alloy but with the same strength. We'll be able to make jets, rockets, cars or even chairs that, by today's standards, would be remarkably light, strong, and inexpensive. Nanotechnology will replace our entire manufacturing base with a new, radically more precise, less expensive and more flexible way of making products."

There are also many potential uses for nanotechnology in medicine as well. A preliminary study has indicated that nanoparticles could be used to target and treat cancer in the future by homing in on certain proteins and delivering medication. Meanwhile, researchers have developed artificial muscles that could help propel nanobots through a person's body in order to diagnose and treat medical conditions. These "doctor bots" as they have been dubbed might sound like the stuff of a mad scientist's dreams, but they're a real possibility.

Of course, these statements about the future of nanotechnology as a field are just speculative at the moment and difficult to predict, as are the scientific and societal implications of such developments. But one thing is clear, at least: nanotechnology is a very powerful science, with huge capacity to influence or change many different aspects of our lives.

And with that, our brief look at the history and developments of nanotechnology has come to an end. If you have any questions regarding nanotechnology and nano-coatings in general or are interested to know more about our own technology, just ask. You can find out more about how our nanotechnology is applied to different markets here:

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