I thought the nanotech lecture we had was a great way to emphasize the technological aspect of the class. We have thus far delved into the art that encompasses our studies but the last lecture on nanotech really tied everything together. Since we all were exposed to the same ideas about nanotech applied to manufacturing and got an idea of what it is but discuss modern day examples, I thought I would share some examples I researched. I tried posting pictures of each of the following numerous times but it doesn’t work unfortunately. You can just google each item and get a good image of each application.
Let’s start off with ZnO nanoparticles embedded with gold atoms. It has the appearance of a sunflower. The potential applications of this nanoflower stem from its antimictobial and filtering capabilities. A variety of personal care products, including deodorants and antimicrobial agents are being developed that include such structures. Basically, the ZnO nanoflowers act as powerful deodorizers and can be used as anti-perspirants because of their ability to block away microbial pathogens. They can also shield odor-producing bacteria from letting out odors into the air. Thus, they act as long-term shields of body odor. Their physiological effects for long periods of time have not yet been deciphered. A great way art meets biotechnology.
Nanorings, particularly silver (Ag) nanorings, have interesting applications in the field of optics. Since they have a changeable diameter, geometrical manipulations have made them capable of altering wavelengths to reach resonance. In reaching resonance, these particles can tremendously enhance electric fields in specific regions of the rings. His capability allows Ag and Au nanorings to be able to detect cancers in the body or used in surveillance to detect noxious substances. Ultimately, nanorings can make electric materials resonate at infrared wavelengths, allowing them to have additional applications.
Silicate particles can also have many applications. For example, when used in food preservation, silicate particles can improve the shelf life of cheeses, meats, and other spoil-prone food for years. This is because the silicate particles create an extra air-tight hermetic seal that is virtually impenetrable by air molecules. When combined with metal ions such as magnesium or aluminum, these silicate nanoparticles form a new hybrid plastic that can reduce the oxygen permeability to almost 0. Multiple silicate barriers also reduces the diffusion of light and can prevent food from literally “seeing the light of day” keeping it fresh for years. Silicate particles can be used in the medical field for injury recovery. Instead of developing antibiotics and investing in drugs for infections when wounds are open, a layer of silicate and flexible polymer can act as a bandage. The bandage prevents infection while giving the body time to heal naturally.
Iron nanoparticles have been used to clean up carbon tetrachloride contamination in ground water, according to the Oregon Health and Science University. By combining the iron particles with a magnetite shell made of sulfur, the complex can react with carbon tetrachloride and break it down into harmless products. The way that it works involves the way the particles become organized with the magnetite shell. The particles along with the shells form clusters. These clusters then branch out into polymers. Finally, the polymers can capture and react with the carbon tetrachloride. Individual iron nanoparticles, however, are not as efficient because they don’t have the “net-like” clustered structure. According to researchers, they can also be used to diagnose brain tumors.
Certain nanoparticles can be injected into the body which target the destruction of cancerous cells but leave healthy cells uninhibited. In this new-age form of chemotherapy reveled by researchers at the Harvard School of Medicine and MIT, cancerous cells can rapidly be targeted for destruction. The process works by encapsulating the chemotherapy drug called docetaxel inside nanoparticles: biodegradable polymer poly(d,l-lactic-co-glycolic acid) and poly(ethylene glycol). RNA strands called aptamers where then attached to the surface of each and were equipped to bind to different proteins. For prostate cancer, these polymers can bind to prostate-specific membrane antigen, a receptor fund on only cancerous prostate cells. The polymers can be used to treat other diseases too.
Anytime a new breakthrough occurs, or a new state-of-the-art material is developed, its effects on life must be considered. The most interesting article I found (http://soldiersystems.net/blog1/2008/11/16/nano-material-hazards/) presents carbon nanotubes as particular threats when they break or rupture. Nanotubes can be used as shielding products but when broken, they can be breathed in and have asbestos-like effects on the lung. They can accumulate and reduce the surface tension of the lungs and complicate breathing. They also limit the respiratory space and make carbon dioxide exchange less efficient. Besides being harmful to the lungs, nanoparticles such as Ag or Au particles can penetrate the layers of the skin if left for a long time. Many nanoparticles have been contemplated in their use for moisturizers, cosmetics, antiperspirants, and personal deodorizers but they can penetrate through the epithelial layer of the skin and enter organ systems, whose effects are unknown to us yet. Another great article I found involves nanoparticles and the circulatory system (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_12_167/ai_n13596290). In one study, the body’s macrophages were found to have engulfed and phagocytosed nanotubes but were found to undergo necrosis later. It’s pretty scary to see that after our body’s natural cells have tried to remove these particles, they have died. However, this has been found only with large amounts that enter the bloodstream. In large amounts, carbon nanotubes caused atherosclerosis over a period of several months in animal hearts, aortas, and lungs. When exposed to red blood cells from the lungs, some nanoparticles hat do not get clogged can attach to red blood cells and reverse their surface to charge to negative. This reversal of charge causes clumping of the red blood cells which could lead to clots and further develop into strokes, heart attacks, and embolisms. I think that these things are very dangerous and still more time and effort is needed in the field of health before nanoparticles can be components of our daily lives. These studies are too serious to be neglected and I think researchers should delve deeper into health risks when developing unique applications.
Besides the applications, here are some modern-day products that incorporate nanotechnology:
NanoSafe ™ nano-titanate battery
I was really impressed when I read the description of this battery. Not only does it charge more, store more voltage, charge faster, and take up less space, but the battery discharges much slower and remains useful for longer periods of time. The battery is small yet can be used for a variety of things.
Destiny nFusion™ Hearing Aid
I think that this is also a wonderful product. We know that the human ear is relatively small for hearing aids to be put into but I think that this device is very convenient for individuals with hearing problems. It allows tremendous sound amplification, more natural sound hearing, takes up less space, and looks natural.
Air Purifier&Sterilizer (Model: Cyclerguard)
Air purifiers are pretty underestimated today. Because the air is so bad, the incidence of allergic reactions, asthma, cardiovascular problems, and overall irritation has increased tremendously simply because of the air we breathe. If people can have more of these in their homes it would help with such adverse reactions.
260 Den Nano Silver Far Infrared Anti-odor Healthy Socks
Socks like this can help athletes perform better and feel more comfortable when exercising.
Advanced Protection SPF 30 Oil w/ Clear Z COTE Zinc
This sunscreen has a high SPF and is better for the skin and the environment compared to other ones. It is also odorless.
Television Display Coating
I don’t think that a nanoparticle dislay coating is such a great idea for average consumers. It is extremely expensive. Also, people seem extremely satisfied with the quality of their high-resolution TV’s because it seems so authentic. Additionally, people tend to replace their TV’s every few years anyway so a nanoparticle coating isn’t necessary.
Alusion™ Alumina Powders
Alumina powders can be used for makeup because they look and feel natural – I think that the health risks would outweigh the positive aspects though.
NANOVER™ Pet Shampoo
This is way too expensive for a typical pet-owner so it isn’t practical. Also, the nanoparticles used could cause adverse effects to pets. I just think that pet-owners would rather use cheap pet shampoo that works fine rather than this product which has the chance of being harmful to the pet.
The applications are endless and especially with the unbound artistic imagination of the human being, biotechnology and art can piggyback off of each other to create many different advancements, many of which we can see through nanotechnology.