I’ve been interested in nanotechnology for quite a while now, and how it can influence design and it’s properties. The capabilities are almost endless with this technology making it an extensive and extremely exciting field. But what is it? Why is it so interesting? How can it help?
Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the Nano-scale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers. Now from that very brief description it doesn’t sound all that interesting does it?
Let’s put it in perspective, one Nano meter is one billionth of a meter, roughly the size of six carbon atoms, or slightly less than one water molecule. Take a look at your finger and have a close look at the grooves in your skin, now imagine something 80,000 times smaller than that. There you have it, that’s approx. 10 Nano-meters (10nm). There are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch; a sheet of newspaper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth. Interested? Intrigued?
As a whole, Nanotechnology is the study of the controlling of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. It can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. To me it’s one of the most innovative and exciting discoveries to date, because it can be implemented across so many areas of science and design.
Originally the concept behind Nano science formed from a lecture by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology in 1959. Now that’s quite some time ago, we didn’t even have the tools and technology to be able to discover science on a Nano scale yet. Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules.
What if we could stop burning up our planet, and instead generate all the energy we need, safely, efficiently and effortlessly right from our homes. We spend the majority of our time in our homes and the amount of free energy that is widely available every day we waste. In summer we try and block out the heat and cool down our homes with fans and air conditioners. In winter we do the exact opposite and attempt to heat the air in our homes up when all it is trying to do is escape from our homes. This is an inefficient process that we humans have been blindly executing each and every year without even stopping to think at how dumbfounded it is. What if the energy we receive from our sun could be stored when needed and repelled when not in use? This is where the latest in Nano technology can assist us. This extraordinary material, carbon, is able to change its form from a reaction from graphite that when blasted with a vapor, the vaporized carbon condenses and thickens to a material that forms into the latest discovery in Nano technology – carbon Nano tube.
This new material has some quite astounding qualities. Not only is it 100,000 times smaller than the widths of your hair, it is 1000 times more conductive than copper. Carbon at the Nano scale is not only transparent but also flexible. When combined with a polymer the carbon sheet when in its coloured state can reflect away the suns heat and rays and when in its bleach states it will let all light and heat through. To be able to change the carbon materials state you simply need to apply 2 volts of power in a millisecond pulse.
As great as this sounds how does it help in terms on sustainable living?
Some scientists have created a material made from 2 Nano materials, a detector and an imager. These two materials combined convert the infrared light available at night into an electron. However, when you mix the carbon sheet and this material together you end up with a material that is able to convert energy into an electron on a thin film that you can stick on your window at home, and since its flexible you are able to affix it to almost any surface. Free, efficient energy right from the safety and comfort of your own home.