Nanotechnology: Advantages and Disadvantages

Dr. S. S. VERMA; Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal; Distt.-Sangrur (Punjab)-148 106

2018-05-23 10:06:56



Nanotechnology is the buzz word of today’s seminars and discussion for the growth of science and technology.  It is justified that nanotechnology is the nature’s technology which lies in every natural creation all around us and just we have to master the technology for its benefits by putting hold on its side-effects or disadvantages. Understanding, shaping and combining matter at the atomic and molecular scale is called nanotechnology. Nanotechnology encompasses science, medicine, engineering, computing and robotics at this scale, called the nanoscale. Nanotechnology offers the potential for new and faster kinds of computers, more efficient power sources and life-saving medical treatments. Nanotechnology is seen as the way of the future and is a technology that a lot of people think will bring a lot of benefit for all who will be using it but nothing is ever perfect and there will always be pros and cons to everything. Potential disadvantages include economic disruption and possible threats to security, privacy, health and the environment.

Advantages of nanotechnology

Electronics and Computing: the field of electronics is set to be revolutionized by nanotechnology. Quantum dots, for example, are tiny light-producing cells that could be used for illumination or for purposes such as display screens. Silicon chips can already contain millions of components, but the technology is reaching its limit; at a certain point, circuits become so small that if a molecule is out of place the circuit won't work properly. Nanotechnology will allow circuits to be constructed very accurately on an atomic level.  Nanotechnology can actually revolutionize a lot of electronic products, procedures, and applications. The areas that benefit from the continued development of nanotechnology when it comes to electronic products include nano transistors, nano diodes, OLED, plasma displays, quantum computers, and many more.

Energy sector: nanotechnology can also benefit the energy sector. Nanotechnology may transform the ways in which we obtain and use energy. In particular, it's likely that nanotechnology will make solar power more economical by reducing the cost of constructing solar panels and related equipment. Energy storage devices will become more efficient as a result. Nanotechnology will also open up new methods of generating and storing energy. The development of more effective energy-producing, energy-absorbing, and energy storage products in smaller and more efficient devices is possible with this technology. Such items like batteries, fuel cells, and solar cells can be built smaller but can be made to be more effective with this technology.

Manufacturing sector: nanotechnology lets us make almost every manufactured product faster, lighter, stronger, smarter, safer and cleaner, and even more precise. We can already see many of the possibilities as these few examples illustrate. Nanotechnology is already making new materials available that could revolutionize many areas of manufacturing. For example, nanotubes and nano particles, which are tubes and particles only a few atoms across, and aerogels, materials composed of very light and strong materials with remarkable insulating properties, could pave the way for new techniques and superior products. In addition, robots that are only a few nanometers in length, called nanobots, and nanofactories could help construct novel materials and objects.

Medical field:  nanotechnology is also seen as a boon in medical world since these can help with creating what is called smart drugs. These help cure people faster and without the side effects that other traditional drugs have. The research of nanotechnology in medicine is now focusing on areas like tissue regeneration, bone repair, immunity and even cures for such ailments like cancer, diabetes, and other life threatening diseases. Nanotechnology has the potential to bring major advances in medicine. Nanobots could be sent into a patient's arteries to clear away blockages. Surgeries could become much faster and more accurate. Injuries could be repaired cell-by-cell. It may even become possible to heal genetic conditions by fixing the damaged genes. Nanotechnology could also be used to refine drug production, tailoring drugs at a molecular level to make them more effective and reduce side effects.

Nanomedicine is defined globally as "nanotechnology applied to medicine." It has huge potential to enhance traditional health care procedures. Nanomedicine could make obsolete the often-inefficient diagnostic and treatment plans in medicine. When asked about the future of nanomedicine, physicist, Dr. Frank Underdown Jr. stated, "...The potential is limitless, already advancements in research are being made in surgery, wound care and the development of self-healing bandages. The future will be bright if scientists figure out a rapid method of nanomanufacturing." As this potentially affects every person on Earth, the future of nanomedicine is bright indeed.

Through the process of molecular recognition--where molecules are created to recognize specific cells--nanoparticles can be designed to be attractive to a specific disease or condition; for example, cancer. In this drug-delivery system, these engineered particles would seek out cancer cells and deliver a drug payload, like chemotherapy, directly to those cancer cells. The advantage over traditional chemotherapy would be in the delivery. The chemo drug would only attack cancer cells, leaving the rest of the body untouched. The result is less sickness from chemotherapy and a reduction in actual medicine cost because less is used.

Nanoengineered drugs can be designed to specifically attach to known biological targets. These engineered medications would only act on the specific diseased tissue targeted, not on healthy tissue. Additionally, these medicines would be subjective, designed for a specific individual and their disease. Not only would this alleviate the trial and error of prescription medication, it would result in less actual medicine being dispensed, fewer side effects and a quicker physiological response.

Nanotechnology can be advantageous when dealing with many diseases, including cancer. Cancer cells remain viable within a narrow temperature range. Using molecular recognition, mentioned earlier, nanoparticles could be created with cancer antibodies. These particles could then recognize and attach to targeted cancer cells. Designed to also absorb light, these nanomolecules could be heated by an external light source, thus killing the cancer cells thermally. The advantages are reduced damage to healthy tissue and thorough and specific elimination of diseased cells.

Coating composed of nanoparticles can extend the life of traditional prosthetics. This coating would typically be carbon-based so as to be neutral to the body. Coating a prosthetic in this way would prevent the body from rejecting and destroying it. The prosthetic would last longer resulting in reduced cost to amputee patients in the long run.

Nano medicine is constantly advancing, allowing for application in a range of medical disciplines. Two major disciplines in the research phase are diagnostic and regenerative medicine. In diagnostic medicine, applications of nanotechnology would identify diseased cells very early, possibly at the point of a single sick cell, allowing diseased cells to be cured before they spread and affect other areas of the body. In regenerative medicine, patients suffering from substantial injuries or failing systems could be helped. In fact, as of now, significant advancement has been made in the development of regenerative applications of artificial bone, skin and cartilage.

Disadvantages of nanotechnology

Now a day, nanotechnology seems to be of great advantage as we are increasing its use day by day. We are using it in electronics, medicine, medical surgery, food, packing, lightening, clothes etc. But with all the good any science can do, there is always the capability of engineering evil potential. There is a system of checks and balances in place to help prevent the mishandling of scientific research and capabilities. Despite the possibilities and the advancements that the nanotechnology offers to the world, there also exist certain severe discussions on the prevalence of the nanotechnology in the world. So, the world has recently anticipated of the potential risks involved with the disadvantages of it. Nanotechnology has raised the standard of living but at the same time, it has increased the pollution, which includes water pollution, air pollution. The pollution caused by nanotechnology is known as nano pollution. This kind of pollution is very dangerous for living organisms. Few disadvantages of nanotechnology are mentioned here.

  • One of the biggest disadvantage that world is facing because of nanotechnology is the lack of employment in the fields of traditional farming and manufacturing and industrial sector because of the vast development in the nanotechnology. Nanotech devices and machines have taken place of human to work  faster and accurately which has lessen the importance of men power in the field of practical work 
  • Nanotechnology raises the possibility of microscopic recording devices, which would be virtually undetectable. More seriously, it is possible that nanotechnology could be weaponized. Atomic weapons would be easier to create and novel weapons might also be developed. One possibility is the so-called "smart bullet," a computerized bullet that could be controlled and aimed very accurately. These developments may prove a boon for the military; but if they fell into the wrong hands, the consequences would be dire. Atomic weapons now has become more accessible with nanotechnology, and made to be more powerful and more destructive. On industrial-scale manufacturing and use of nonmaterial would have on human health and the environment. Nanoparticles could potentially have a toxic effect.
  • Mass production of nanotechnology material may or may not be possible. Should nanotechnology actually be able to procure an honest and true molecular manufacturing machine for every household.
  • The potential for mass poisoning over a period of time. They may very well cause eventual health problems in the consumers that use them i.e. health effects could be at large scale. Inhaled nanoparticles may settle in the brain and lungs, which may led to significant increases in biomarkers for inflammation and stress response. Some of the more extravagant negative future scenarios have been debunked by experts in nanotechnology. For example: the so-called "gray goo" scenario, where self-replicating nanobots consume everything around them to make copies of themselves, was once widely discussed but is no longer considered to be a credible threat. It is possible; however, that there will be some negative effects on the environment as potential new toxins and pollutants may be created by nanotechnology.
  • Lack of our own knowledge about nanotechnology makes it pretty difficult to manufacture. We know that we can create materials with nanotechnology but we still have to stop and understand the impact of the creation of these products will have on the nanoscale.
  • Nanotechnology is very expensive and developing it can cost a lot of money as to generate and assemble its particles in different forms needs many technologies.
  • It is likely that nanotechnology, like other technologies before it, will cause major changes in many economic areas. Although products made possible by nanotechnology will initially be expensive luxury or specialist items, once availability increases, more and more markets will feel the impact. Some technologies and materials may become obsolete, leading to companies specializing in those areas going out of business. Changes in manufacturing processes brought about by nanotechnology may result in job losses.
  • Nanotechnology raises the possibility of microscopic recording devices, which would be virtually undetectable. More seriously, it is possible that nanotechnology could be weaponized. Atomic weapons would be easier to create and novel weapons might also be developed. One possibility is the so-called "smart bullet," a computerized bullet that could be controlled and aimed very accurately. These developments may prove a boon for the military; but if they fell into the wrong hands, the consequences would be dire.
  • Increasing development and instant performance has also increased the fall of certain markets like diamond and oil because of the low value of diamond and oil. Presence of alternative has decreased the demand because alternates are more efficient and do not require the use of fossil fuels. Diamonds have lost its value because it is now produced massively with the help of nanotechnology.  People and manufacturer can now produce bulk of the products at molecular scale and decomposition is done to create new components.
  • Working with nanotechnology is quite risky also; manufacturers have to invest huge money for starting nanotech plants and if products produced fail to satisfy the customer then manufacturer bear a lot of loss. The original product cannot be recovered because it will cost double to the manufacturers.  Maintenance cost of the product is also very high.
  • Nanotechnology also raised some practical problems. Practical problems can include everything which is to be produced from masses like coal, petroleum. Nanotechnology does not leave single nano particle unused which crashed the small industries of sub products of the massive materials this is the main reason for low quantity of sub products of coal and petroleum in the markets.