Mining the Medical Possibilities of Nanotechnology

The potential applications for nanotechnology in medicine are many, but some of these applications need a bit longer development time than you'd find in some other industries. That's due in part to the complex interactions among all those tiny components, as well as tight regulations for new products. In the future, medical tools will be made more inexpensively, diagnosis will become more accurate, and we can expect tiny, inexpensive sensors and implants to provide both automated monitoring and...

Building computer brains from molecules

All we need now are some tiny brains (no cheap remarks, please) to go with the tiny fingers . . . and we're partway there already Computer chips have been miraculously shrinking over the years to become more powerful. But as the components of chips stuff like transistors, diodes, and memory cells continue to shrink, there's less distance between those components the increased density in the chip creates problems. Nanotechnology may take us the rest of the way to creating computer chips based on...

Possible harm from nanomaterials

We've seen the scenario in a slew of science fiction movies whenever a scientist discovers something new, some hideous green monster forms out of the goop and attacks its creator. Nanotechnology may not suffer the same fate as Baron von Frankenstein, but it is playing around with some things we've never played with before, and that concerns some people. Over the last ten years or so, work with nanomaterials has moved along smartly and by now we're using them in a whole bunch of products such as...

Buckyballs as antioxidants

The medical field is one place that buckyballs appear to have a promising future. C Sixty, Inc., is one of the companies developing medical applications for buckyballs. They are focusing on the ability of buckyballs to act as antiox-idants, counteracting free radicals in the human body. A free radical is a molecule or atom that has an unpaired electron which makes it very reactive. An antioxidant is a molecule that can supply an electron and neutralize a free radical. The human body normally...

Put enough motecutes together you get materials

Eventually, collections of molecules bond together to become things we use every day (like plastic and chocolate). But what determines these larger structures of molecules Well, for openers, the same force that keeps an electron in an atom also sticks molecules together the electrostatic force. The strength of that intermolecular bond (which also qualifies as an attraction or a force) depends on how the electrons in the molecules are arranged. As the molecules get together, the intermolecular...

Making Better Materials from Tires to Clothing

Many companies are already using nanotechnology to make better materials from the rubber used for tires to stain-repellent fabrics for clothing. The name Zyvex pops up whenever you search for nanotechnology companies online. Founded in 1997, this company's slogan is Providing Nanotechnology Solutions Today(tm) and so they are. Zyvex has a line of nano-additives and enhanced carbon nanotubes that add strength to composite materials. Using these they can improve thermal, electrical, and...

One Word Plastics

When Rich went off to college in 1995, his dad said, One word World Wide Web. But that's three words, Rich said. His dad was, in his own way, trying to express the future importance of the Internet by mirroring the famous line from the 1967 movie The Graduate, Just one word plastics. At 18, Rich (like most teenagers at that age) thought he knew everything and didn't listen to the advice the way he probably should have. When he graduated from college, his dad approached him again and said, One...

Replacing joints with better stuff

Thus far, nanotechnology offers almost magical transformations of materials, strengthening our current versions of standard steel, glass, and plastic into something revolutionary. (Don't believe us Check out Chapter 5.) When applied to biological materials, nanotech will accomplish similar dramatic changes. To do so, however, it will have to compensate for biomaterials' dynamic (ever-changing) construction. Not sure what's so dynamic about biomaterials Read on to find out. Bones are actually a...

Jumping on the Bandwagon Asia

The United States and Europe are certainly not the only players in nanotech-nology. So what's going on in Asian countries Read on and you'll find out. Nano can make for strange bedfellows, at least from a Western point of view. Japan has given two of its ministries the job of overseeing nanotech research. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Sports Yep.) joins forces with the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry to oversee nanotechnology research. The funding...

Cooking Cancer with Nanoshells

The body is constantly replacing old cells with new ones the old, damaged cells are deliberately killed in a process called apoptosis. Sometimes, however, mutations occur so that some new cells form when the body doesn't need them and old cells don't die when they should which, by the way, is a basic definition of cancer. Cancer cells bypass apoptosis and form a mass of tissue called a tumor. See Figure 11-11 for a graphical depiction of normal cell division versus cancer mutation. As it...

Nanofying Electronics

Generating light with nanotechnology Sensing things with nanotubes Building MEMS those teeny-tiny electromechanical machines Making computer brains one molecule at a time Connecting devices with nanotubes and nanowires Consider the world of electronics you know, that world that provides us with light at night, enhanced abilities to sense things around us, and a way to run complex machines. Electronics also makes possible the computer that you probably sit in front of almost every day. What if...

Buckyballs at work everywhere

Here's a quick rundown of various efforts that are going on today to develop products using the capabilities of buckyballs. When these products will become available is anybody's guess at this point, but it depends in part on our ability to produce low-cost buckyballs. i Dupont and Exxon are using buckyballs to develop stronger polymers. These companies are looking at two ways of doing this by integrating the buckyballs in the polymer with chemical bonding, or by simply tossing buckyballs into...

Getting a Small Piece of Nanotechnology for Yourself

Nanotechnology is set to insinuate its way into our economy in ways that we can only imagine more probably, in ways that we could never dream. Nanotechnology as an industry will be hard to identify and track, considering it's very pervasive it touches upon a lot of different industries. Familiar products will be the first to take advantage of nanotech clothing, cosmetics, and novel industrial coatings. When the processes to make these products are mastered, new and innovative products will...