What differences can Nanomaterials make to the environment?
An American Physicist stated that;
“By 2100, our destiny is to become like the gods we once worshipped and feared. But our tools will not be magic wands and potions but the science of computers, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and most of all, the quantum theory.” (Kaku, 2016)
Nanomaterials are materials that can only be considered ‘Nano’ — The Term originates from Ancient Greek and means ‘Dwarf’ (Nanos = Dwarf), if 50% or more of the integral component particles in a material are considered ‘Nanoparticles’ in the number size distribution scale. In nanomaterials one or more of the external dimensions’ size ranges from between 1nm-100nm (Nano-meters). (New Materials: Nanomaterials, n.d.). Meaning, that Nanomaterials are so small, that there is virtually no extra space left when these particles combine, this aspect of Nanomaterials is what gives it the strong, durable quality. Similarly, Nanotechnology is technology made by utilizing and manipulating matter to an atomic, molecular and supramolecular (structures composed of many molecules) extent, these are also within the same dimensions for nanomaterials. (What is Nanotechnology?, n.d.)
Nanotechnology has been recently transpiring in the science world, it is surmised to make huge contributions to the economic growth of countries and continents in terms of job creation internationally. (“Research & Innovations”, n.d.) It is seen to have revolutionised the technology industries, providing room for creating a more sustainable and reliable future for humanity and the rest of species of which reside within Earth
These materials have shown immense superiority in terms of performance in numerous aspects, including, medicine, energy, environment and manufacturing engineering. (Palit & Hussain, 2020)
In the matter of the human environment, the use of nanomaterials can be applied to the healthcare and medicine industry, this application of nanotechnology in the medicine industry is referred to as nanomedicine. The notion of nanomedicine is currently being developed through nanorobots — which are robots approximately 50 to 100nm wide (wide enough to fit into the nanoscale). These robots essentially carry out the roll of killing tumours and preventing the further development of cancer. (Mehta & Subramani, 2012) They kill the cancer tumours by inserting an enzyme called thrombin, they open up the tumour and insert this enzyme into the blood vessel, which results in a clogging which stops blood from providing necessities to the tumour, ending the tumour’s ‘life’. (Rahman, 2020)
To expand on this, due to their sublime durability, nanomaterials actually make sure that clothing or any other material does not get as dirty, instead it just slides off of the material. This means that it becomes beneficial for both the human and natural environment, since the materials would require less cleaning and scrubbing, meaning that the amount of water litres wasted from the process of cleaning normal clothing using ‘normal’ materials, will be completely defeated (Rahman, 2020). Signifying, an age where society will be able to carry out their daily lives without worrying about the effect that life will have on their material possessions, allowing the environment to flourish with the knowledge that less of their water will be taken.
Additionally, due to the plants getting more water, the number of plantations and forests present on the face of our planet will increase, allowing the decrease of the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere from the current amount of ~0.04% (West, 2019), and the decrease in the temperature of the planet with the added bonus of a higher amount of oxygen in our atmosphere. This decrease in temperature will also mean that the extinction rate of species will go down and the negative occurrences like, coral bleaching to plummet for the better.
However, this technology is still unknown so without further testings it could be detrimental or create somewhat of a negative effect on the environment and on humanity. Not to mention, that even if this technology was to come out, there is a high chance that individuals will misuse it. After all, the ability to alter things at a molecular, supramolecular or atomic level is a powerful skill. This technology can help make weapons undetectable, a useful skill for terrorists but not so good for the rest of humanity or the environment at that (Nanotechnology — Exploring Concepts, Possible Dangers and Its Affect on Medicine, n.d.).
There are many unknowns, so this technology probably should not be applied to society just yet, but as Kaku said, the only way we can survive as a species and have the commodities provided by the natural environment is through using science, a concept that allows us to reach closer to the place where ‘god’ lies.
· Kaku, M. (2016). Physics of the Future Quotes by Michio Kaku. Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/13358451-physics-of-the-future-how-science-will-shape-human-destiny-and-our-dail#:%7E:text=%E2%80%9C%E2%80%8EBy%202100%2C%20our%20destiny,all%2C%20the%20quantum%20theory.%E2%80%9D accessed on the 12th May 2021.
· New Materials: Nanomaterials. (n.d.). NanoWerk. Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology/introduction/introduction_to_nanotechnology_2.php
· What Is Nanotechnology? (n.d.). National Nanotechnology Initiative. Retrieved May 14, 2021, from https://www.nano.gov/nanotech-101/what/definition
· Rahman, T. R. (2020, December 21). What is Nanotechnology and What is its Future? Medium. https://medium.com/predict/the-future-of-nanotechnology-accddc9822fb
· Mehta, M., & Subramani, K. (2012). Nanobots — Nanodiagnostics in Microbiology and Dentistry https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/nanobots#:%7E:text=21.4.&text=Nanobots%20are%20robots%20that%20carry,reach%20the%20disease%2Daffected%20area accessed on the 14th of May 2021.
· Nanotechnology — Exploring Concepts, Possible Dangers and Its Affect on Medicine. (n.d.). MicroscopeMaster. Retrieved May 19, 2021, from https://www.microscopemaster.com/nanotechnology.html#:%7E:text=Disadvantages%20include%3A,be%20reproduced%20with%20molecular%20manipulation