Nanotechnology arose in the 1980’s and is now widely used in medical, structural and health and beauty industries. Working at the nano level means quite small. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, (nano =billion). That is difficult to conceive, so a practical illustration is to study the width of a piece of thin paper, or human hair. Both of these are at least 100,000 nanometers wide.
This molecular size allows deep penetration and absorption of nano materials. For example, to deep clean and detoxify skin pores, a product that is very efficiently topically delivered will be more effective than emulsions at a higher particle scale.
Already widely used, for example are products made from industrially grown pearls. Nano pearl powder is ground pure pearls that are easily synthesized with different solutions to create many health and beauty products. Skin creams, sunscreens, rejuvenation products and even eyelash enhancers are using nano pearl powder to deliver results by more effectively penetrating pores, cells, and the sub dermal layer of skin. A quick review on the internet reveals an enormous number of competing products, often with the challenge of interpretation of Chinese translations into English for a host of miraculous claims.
There are cosmetics companies using nano gels, nano lotions, nano bubbles, nano creams and nano vitamin and antioxidant applications. In other more medically applied treatments, nano technology can be used to repair severe skin damage, help with skin grafts, soft tissue injuries and even partial bone replacement. A new compound at the nano scale creates a phosphate composite of calcium and hydro apatite. This new composite can be used to fill in deteriorated bone and dental applications.
Cancer killing agents can eventually be targeted directly at cancerous cells, without too much damage to surrounding cells. This can be done as methods and medicine of nano delivery systems continue to be improved.
In other, even more wide reaching endeavors, nanotechnology looks promising for purifying water and eliminating pollution. A Pacific Northwestern lab is implementing ways to use silica particles to capture toxins in water. Because of some nano emulsions ability to repel light, just as they do in sunscreens and beauty products, they may also be utilized to reduce spoilage in foods and products stored for delayed distribution.
The energy industry is investigating widespread use of extracting gas from coal, for a cleaner and more efficient fuel. The gasoline produced is extracted with a gel based nano scale catalyst.
Then there are recreational applications too. Sports gear, such as tennis rackets, golf clubs and equipment can be made incredibly lightweight and still structurally sound.
Last but not least, science and industry, particularly NASA, is interested in working with nano technology to create a space elevator. A space elevator is a concept conceived of by Sir Arthur C. Clarke (who also first described artificial satellites) who foresaw the use of an earth based elevator to deliver payloads into low earth orbit. Made of carbon “tubules” the lightweight and strong elevator would be set in place in open ocean, with the other end reaching to an already present earth orbiting asteroid.
All together, these and many amazing applications of nano technology offer a possible end to cancer and disease, clean energy, recreation and even beauty. Working at the nano scale is going to be very BIG, indeed.