Nerd-out of the week: Nanotechnology – The Next Horizion

We may be “computer nerds” here on the level of Revenge of the Nerds (Great 80’s move folks check it out) but that doesn’t mean we don’t nerd out on other techy topics. One of our student help desker is going to share his infatuation with Nanotechnology today, take it away Greg.

Nanotechnology is a relatively new technology that has seemingly endless applications in the real world. It is a technology whose future is a completely uncharted territory; taking both science and technology to levels we thought were impossible. In short, nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale anywhere from 1-100 nanometers. An example of the 1st generation of nanostructures would be aerosols and polymers. Generation 2 incorporates bio-active and physico-chemical active structures, such as drugs and 3D transistors.  The 3rd generation focused on robotics and new hierarchical architectures on the nanosystem level. We are currently focusing on generation 4 of nanotechnology; this generation focuses on molecular nanosystems, this type of technology is said to be made functional by 2015-2020 and incorporates technology from the other three generations.

This technology could improve the health of medical patients with serious illness or injuries. Theoretically, physicians would be able to attack and illness and an injury on the molecular level, performing “nano surgery.” With this technology, cancer cells could be identified, removed and new healthy cells would be able to be surgically implanted. There would eventually be almost nothing that couldn’t be repaired though nano surgery.

Sure this technology sounds like a promising future, however if you are like me, you also have thought of the other uses of nanotechnology outside of medical uses. One such implication of nanotechnology would be that the natural process of life and death would be completely interrupted. Without death, the world would become overpopulated and completely demolish the ecosystems on earth. Also, nanorobots could perform tasks that humans never could, such as cleaning water with contaminants, clean the environment, repair the ozone layer, etc. the possibilities are endless.  On the flip side, what is to stop these nanorobots from turning on humans and essentially whipping out the entire human race?

Although these are “what-if” scenarios and what-if scenarios within what-if scenarios, however these must be taken into account when talking about the future implementation of nanotechnology into everyday life. So whether you are one of those who fear the future of nanoscience or one of those who are ready to embrace it, I can assure you that conjunction with human interests is going to be a tricky but worthwhile development.


Greg Hachtel Sophomore at UW - Psychology From: Highlands Ranch, CO


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