Nanotechnology: science of small with huge opportunities

March 24th, 2008 - 2:50 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, March 24 (IANS) In future we may never have to wash our shirts, thanks to nanotechnology, and we may have nano-shoes that can absorb the shock of an exploding nuclear device. A. Sivathanu Pillai, one of India’s top scientists, discussed all this and many more far-reaching possibilities of nanotechnology, which basically means engineering of systems at molecular level, at an industry meet here last week.

“It is material science at its best,” said Pillai, who is chief controller (research and development) at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

“Nanotechnology is the science that can ensure sustainability of agriculture and food production and give a solution to water and energy crisis. These two areas would witness an investment of $45 billion per year in nanotechnology research in the next 10 years,” he forecast.

He envisages nano-bio-info machines, miniatures invisible to the naked eye but a complex of intelligent tubes and spheres made of a variety of materials. These nano devices can be as small as one nanometre (nm), which is one-billionth of a metre.

“It will give birth to a new world of industrial products, create about two million nanotechnology workers and improve healthcare.”

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this new technology could be the healthcare delivery system.

“If one has common cold, an intelligent flagellated carbon molecule called ‘nanobots’ or nano lasers in the blood stream detects the virus and gobbles it up,” Pillai explained.

Nanodevices could be used to unblock the arteries of cholesterol or a nano chip implanted in the brain can help in coordination for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer patients. The scope for nanotechnology is immense, he said.

So, what happens to the nano device? It naturally disintegrates in the body with time. So, periodically a patient can swallow a doze of nanocarbon device to keep fit.

The Indian defence establishment has made some progress in nano research with a carbon nano-tube manufacturing plant in Kanpur.

The DRDO is researching a ’smart vest’ for its soldiers which will not only monitor blood pressure and heartbeat but also indicates the mental frame, body temperature and can control blood and oxygen flow.

“Even the packaged water sold in India is not clear of metal residues. Nanocarbon devices can do this, a great potential for the drinking water industry to explore and exploit,” said Pillai.

“Such discoveries have huge implications for rural India.”

Nanotechnology can impact our daily life in ways one cannot even dream of today.

“The age of the ‘nano’ is coming and the world will change beyond recognition in the way things are done,” Pillai warned.

“Indian industry should wake up and begin thinking afresh on nanotechnology’s scope and applications if it wants to be a world leader in the years to come,” he said.

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