Nanotechnology is one of the most exciting technologies of recent years. In the future it may allow us to create material far more useful than anything which naturally exists or build complex machines with the push of a few button and improve computers tenfold..
One of the major advances of recent years is the nanotube. Typically made from carbon the nanotube's strength . This allows a nanotube to be thinner than a human hair and stronger than diamonds. It is currently both very expensive and limited in length this technology could be used in computer circuits, create body armor far better than Kevlar or even be used to help build a space elevator making trips to space hundreds or thousands of times less expensive. The earliest known research in this was in 1952 by Russian scientists and images in 1976 also show them but it was not until 1991 that credit was given to Sumio Lijima of NEC.
Another of the major discoveries in nanotechnology is biological engines. These are naturally occurring machines which can do a wide variety of tasks at the near atomic level. Nanotechnology of this type has barely reached the experimental stage but by using naturally occurring biological engines it could allow for control of life in ways hardly imaginable including the genetic alteration of adults rather than being limited to children. This could allow for cures of all types of genetic disorders, simple improvement of genetics such as improved intelligence and strength or even cosmetic genetic alteration. They could also allow for the nanotechnology to reproduce itself making it far cheaper than current technologies.
They could also lead to the technology of DNA computers. DNA computers are, as the name implies, computers which use the basic building blocks of life to store and transmit data. These computers could be a number of years off but they could dramatically improve computer technology beyond what is possible with current technologies. For example a device the size of an iPhone could hold 30,000 full length movies and run hundreds of times faster than current computers, as well.
The current technology which appears to have the best chance of revolutionizing our world soon is three dimensional printing. This technology is already in use at the macro level and many businesses are using this technology to build simple parts for machines. Even this technology holds out the possibilities of downloading a physical object nearly as easily as you can download a computer program now, and if you combine that with recent nanotechnology allowing for the printing of computer circuits and other products, it would allow anyone with an idea to create things as easily as a major company.
All of these technologies are very new, and yet they may have as much chance of changing the world as the microchip did when it ushered in the age of desktop computing, and they may affect even more.