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Developments in Nanotech

Nanotechnology the science of small things is becoming really big, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

business Updated: Jul 27, 2006 18:52 IST

The Nanotech semiconductor

Nanotechnology the science of small things is becoming really big. On July 13, 2006 it was reported that researchers at the University of Toronto have produced a semiconductor device by painting a liquid carrier onto a piece of glass, which they claimed out performs conventional crystal-based devices. According to the Toronto team, heated nanometer scale particles of lead-sulfide (PbS) in a flask containing oleic acid (the main ingredient in olive oil). A drop of that solution was placed on a glass slide patterned with gold electrodes. After which the sample was spun around to spread the drop out to create a homogeneous continuous semiconductor film. The sample was then given a two-hour bath in methanol to prepare a 0.8-micron thick layer of the light-sensitive particles. The researchers said it was the first time a so-called "wet" semiconductor device beat a crystalline device showing that higher performance could be achieved with what is intrinsically a lower-cost process for preparation. You can view the full article on

Nanotechnology to improve groundwater

Another interesting development that happened early this week involves nanotechnology to improve groundwater. According to a new research facility at the University of Western Ontario will help researchers improve groundwater through the use of technologies developed on the nanoscale.

"There is considerable interest in pumping nanomaterials into the ground where they can flow with groundwater to a contaminated region and convert hazardous chemicals into benign products like ethane and butane," says Denis O'Carroll, professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Current remediation technologies are rarely able to reduce contaminant concentrations below drinking water limits, but nanomaterials hold significant promise in achieving these goals, he adds. (

Nanomaterials, promising a bright future

According to Nanovic ( Nanomaterials are finding their way into consumer products more and more. Consumer product manufacturers will gain a huge benefit by introducing small amounts of nanomaterials in their products. The introduction of such nanomaterials enhances the existing properties and gives rise to new properties.

Key benefits from nanotechnology are seen in materials such as:

·          Adhesives

·         Lubricants

·         Abrasives

·         Manufactured devices

·         Surface treatments

·         Architectural surfaces

·         Glasses

It's not just consumer products, nanotechnology today covers a wide range of other industries too. Thus, the potential benefits of the technology is also widespread. Telecommunications and Information technology could benefit in terms of faster computers and advanced data storage. Healthcare could see improvements in skin care and protection, advanced pharmaceuticals, drug delivery systems, biocompatible materials, and nerve and tissue repair. Other industry benefits include catalysts, sensors and magnetic materials and devices. It will soon be the cornerstone of every manufacturing industry says a Deloitte research trends report. For example, the vastly increased ratio of surface area to volume opens new possibilities in surface-based science, such as catalysis.

Nanotechnology promises breakthroughs that will revolutionise the way we detect and treat disease, monitor and protect the environment, produce and store energy, and build complex structures as small as an electronic circuit or as large as an aeroplane. It will have a fundamental impact on many sectors of the economy, leading to new products, new businesses, new jobs, and even new industries.

R&D magazine cited a survey of the global nanotechnology market. It showed that the market size for nanomaterials was roughly $7 billion in 2003 and it is projected to grow to over $20 billion by 2008. A few years back the market for nano devices was almost non-existent. "There is practically nothing that you could buy today," said Williams. "But the market will grow from nothing to over $5 billion dollars per year by 2008."

Political Patronage

Nanotechnology received huge patronage under former US President Bill Clinton. Neal Lane, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under Bill Clinton, said "If I were asked for an area of science and engineering that will most likely produce the breakthroughs of tomorrow, I would point to nanoscale science and engineering."  Carrying forward the legacy, in 2003 Bush approved the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which authorizes expenditures for five of the participating agencies totalling $3.63 billion over four years.

The little big technology

Nano is being billed as the next big thing that's going to impact our lives, business and much more. Just this morning there was news that Mr Sabeer Bhatia plans to launch a "Nano City" in Haryana with an investment of $2 billion. The nano materials market itself is being projected at $20 billion by 2008.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist atwww.cyberzest.comand edits you can email him