Studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have produced incredible scientific achievements, including the field of nanotechnology.
Today, nanotechnology is solving some of the world’s greatest problems in a range of industries, from environmental studies to health care and manufacturing.
Universities are meeting this demand in STEM-focused industries by offering nanotechnology degree programs for students interested working for companies such as NASA or Lockheed Martin. Here is how the field of nanotechnology is taking shape in 2016 and beyond:
Nanotechnology is making momentous strides in the manufacturing industry, primarily with the development of 3D printing. 3D printing, commonly known as additive manufacturing, is the process of creating physical 3D objects from digital files. This technology dramatically reduces the cost of traditional manufacturing processes. Not only is it a more cost-effective solution to building prototypes and testing product designs, it also increases efficiency and speed during the manufacturing process by reducing waste. As 3D printing continues to be used on a larger scale, we can expect the manufacturing industry to become faster, more effective and less wasteful.
The health care industry is using nanotechnology to improve the survival rate of patients with harmful diseases, such as cancer. Nanorobots can physically enter the human body and deliver life-saving drugs with greater efficiency and attack deadly cells on the molecular level without harming healthy cells. These tiny machines are controlled by a surgeon during a medical procedure, and can be used detect diseases and correct lesions with greater precision. As nanorobots become more accurate and precise, the health care field continues to benefit greatly from nanotechnology.
Scientists are worried whether the current levels of agriculture and crop production can sustain a growing population. Nanoagriculture answers that concern by creating tiny sub-particles that increase crop and livestock productivity. These tiny particles can detect diseases in both plants and animals, and optimize food quality by delivering better plant nutrients. Nanoagriculture can prevent a shortened food supply by not only protecting our existing supply, but also finding ways to improve the health of future crops.
Even though solar energy is a green, eco-friendly energy (especially compared to natural gas) it is expensive. Scientists, using STEM technology, have developed a solution with the creation of nanoparticles. Nanoparticles, such as carbon nanotubes, increase the absorption of sunlight in solar energy panels to increase productivity.
You can read in Science Daily, “Scientists are reporting that carbon nanotubes could have beneficial effects in agriculture. Their study [Published by the American Chemical Society] found that tomato seeds exposed to CNTs germinated faster and grew into larger, heavier seedlings than other seeds.” With proven ability to boost food crops through solar energy, the future of nanoagriculture is expected to steadily grow.
Nanotechnology has been used for decades in products such as sunscreen, but scientists are discovering even more ways to use this technology in consumer goods. For example, scientists are developing nanoscale particles to improve medicine delivery and drug interactions. One particular area where scientists have had success with this is in clot detection. In this scenario, nanoparticles release drugs when they encounter pressure or force within the body, which is particularly helpful when it comes to fixing clotted arteries. This technology helps doctors detect and treat medical conditions with greater ease and less invasive medical procedures.
With every new discovery in the field, the future of nanotechnology grows brighter and more promising. Although nanoscale materials are valuable to nearly all industries, they are particularly useful in manufacturing, health care and environmental organizations. In the coming years, we can expect to see incredible breakthroughs in nanotechnology that push the limits of the imagination.