As nanoparticles become increasingly important in our everyday lives, the understanding of nanoparticles remains shrouded in mystery to most people. This article attempts to explain the types and uses of these small objects.
In nanotechnology, particles are classified according to size — this includes the diameter of a particle. Within these tiny particles the sizes are defined as coarse or ultrafine.
These “nanoparticles” cover a range of sizes:
Coarse – between 10,000 and 2,500 nanometers
Fine – between 2,500 to 100 nanometers
Ultrafine – between 100 to 1 nanometer
Individual molecules are usually not referred to as nanoparticles even though the size of most molecules would fit into the above classifications. Currently, research and a growing interest surround these tiny particles. This is due to the massive opportunity in the commercial sectors as well as the growing case for human prosperity. Scientists think that nanoparticle development will lead to huge leaps in technology — particularly in electronic, optical, and biomedical areas.
Nanoparticles are considered to be a more recent undertaking of modern science, however, early artists and craftsman used nanoparticle technology for metallic applications. This luster method demonstrated a complex knowledge that ancient people had of materials.
Currently, there are active uses of nanoparticle technology. One such use is the carrying of a chemotherapy drug which helps transport the drug in a direct path to cancerous tumors. The particles respond to a protein found within many types of tumors which creates a high delivery rate for the drug. This is being actively studied in Biosciences. In another use for cancer, gold is used used along with RNA molecules. The skin treatment that is developed can get through the skin and stop generation of proteins which inhibits further growth. There are many more applications being used with this type of delivery mechanism including magnetic attaching to cancer cells.
Nanoparticles are also being used as sensors and transistors. This provides them with wide electronics functionality — however, producing these tiny components still costs a lot of money. This is just the beginning of the wide uses of this technology.
Here are some more uses:
– Industrial coatings (for protecting things from ultra violet rays)
– Strengthening structures for lightweight applications
– Bacteria resistant for making textiles and fabrics odor/grime resistant.
– Crcuitry for making smaller and smaller “smart” parts
– Solar cells can be made from a nanoparticle printing process
– Reclamation of clean water by removing poisons such as arsenic from water sources
The most revolutionary use of all would be the delivering of genetic therapy. After studying nanotechnology and nanoparticles, it is easy to see how these tiny particles have the ability to create some influential things. Scientists speculate on future uses — paving roads with solar cells, delivering cancer curing medicine with lotion (already happening), diagnosing patients with invisible-to-the-human-eye robots, all made up of these tiny little particles. The future is bright and soon we can look forward to more consumer uses of these nanoparticles.