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Nanotechnology? what gives?

  1. Oct 17, 2003 #1

    jimmy p

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    Today in physics we were looking at a cd-rom which told us about nanotechnology. It had no relevance other than general interest to my physics course but it has really intrigued me. i have a coupla questions to ask..they may be blindingly obvious but im dumb so

    1. Is nanotechnology a natural thing or was it man made, and if so how? I mean nanotubes are carbon tubes that are atoms thick, so what about sensors? are they like nerves or are they something else?
    I have also heard that they can reproduce which makes me think that some nanotech is natural so whats the deal?

    2. If from what the Nanotechnology cd claims, that nanotech is all singing and dancing whilst balancing plates of soup, why isnt more money placed into research instead of finding miracle cures for cancer in mushrooms or something (badgerbadgerbadger)when nanotech could sort everything out..
    Now i can see the ethics behind this, corrupt governments could do naughty things, or people would worry bout being cyborgs by relying on injections of nanobots or something but if it can sort out HUGE amounts of problems then why arent more governments willing to fund research?

    Thanx for any input...unless its tellin me not to be a lazy git and look myself (dont forget im dumb!!)
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2003 #2
    Sometimes even physicsts give in to the natural forces that plague mankind. They sometimes are caught by a Hype. This happened when high Tc superconductivity was discovered and it now happens with nanotechnology. The idea of nanotech was (as far as i know) introduced by R.P. Feynman. It took some time but since about 5 years it has become a hype. Allthough we can still do so little it is now "fancy" business to do nanotech experiments (nanotubes, micro machines, quantum computing etc.). And indeed a lot of research money is spent on these subjects. Not that this is a bad thing, don't get me wrong. But "nanoprobes" (Startrek) is still a long way from where we are now. The only usefull aplication that i know off (and i might forget some really important ones) is a gas sensor that uses a nano-carbon tube and is about 1000 times more sensitive then most current sensors.
  4. Oct 17, 2003 #3


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    Nanotechnology, as the term is normally used, is not natural. Certainly events on the nanometer scale have been taking place for as long as there have been particals of matter. But the term "technology" makes it a man-made. The CD-Rom you watched about nanotech actually was nanotech; the information is stored in areas of magnetic flux only a few nanometers across. Most digital data storage and retrieval mediums currently in use are nanotechnology by the Federal Government's definition. The nanotechnology you've heard about that can reproduce itself would be small robots capable of manufacturing replicas of themselves, and accomplishing some other task at the same time.

    One of the most promising areas of research within the field of nanotechnology is medicine. For example, small monitors could be injected into people with a hypodermic needle, then travel around their bloodstream and transmit information about their health. And there is a new technique for treating cancer currently being researched using gold nanoshells. And although the quantum computer may still be some time away, the atomic computer is already a reality.
  5. Oct 18, 2003 #4


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    You might want to rethink this statement.
  6. Oct 18, 2003 #5
    Hey there

    I think nanotechnology is more like a new tool for engineers and scientists, a way of putting even more technology into even less space... And this new tool is still undergoing huge progress. I think it has the potential to be one of the greatest things in the world, revolutionizing all the things around us... Even better than the fabulous semiconductor! Think about a chair or bed made of millions of small multilink nanorobots... Soft and flexible, and with an endless array of posible positions for total comfort in every situation... Great! And small medicine robots in our body to aid our immunesystem against cancer and fever and whatever... Nice.
    But obviously this lies several years in the future, probably even decades away, but in shorter terms, I see smaller and faster computers, and more versatile cellphones with loads of technology stuffed into a very small casing... I also think the new fancy stuff will be implented over a relatively long period, so we will get used to it along the way... It's probably not gonna come overnight.
    But as I say, nanotechnology has a great potential and will probably seriously affect the world as we know it.
    I think alot of research is being performed in this area, but even more is needed as this is a huge field with many posibilities.
    I can't wait to see the future...

    Best regards

    Thomas Hansen
  7. Oct 19, 2003 #6

    jimmy p

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    Well that is nice to see. I think Tom Hansens post was great!! its like an advert!! lol OK so nanotechnology is not natural. I could see the use of replicating nanobots because in the CD, it said that nanosensors could attach themselves to cells. These sensors could be excreted so it would be important to produce more, but how, do u just inject some metal into your bloodstream? it sounds pretty creepy to me. Im all for embracing technology, but medically nanotech leaves much to be desired...i have asked a few people what they thought (a mini survey) and the majority didnt like the idea...Maybe we should set a poll up here to see what people think!

    Additional info will be gratefully received, Thanx to u guys who have provided input so far!!
  8. Oct 20, 2003 #7
  9. Oct 22, 2003 #8


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    Woah, you're right! The storage layer on a DVD, I just found out, is about 120 to 130 nm in depth. This puts it just outside the legal definition of "nanotechnology"; a device with at least one dimension of 100 nanometers or less. Sorry to misinform, JimmyP.
  10. Nov 23, 2003 #9
    the amount of reserach put into nanotechnology is increasing. Is it set to be the biggest scientific industry by about the yr 2010 with a whopping 1 trillian dollar research budget worldwide. The implementations are such...

    carbon nanotubes are "meant" to be extremele strong (see my thread in materials! please!), thus they could be used in the building of armoured vests, airoplanes and space flight. The idea of a space elevator is also a good idea of nanotubes doing there job by being strong!

    The medical implications are the greatest. If nanites are taught to find something, then they can pretty easily locate a physical problem, and stop it. There is technically nothing it cannot do medically (of course that also involved killing you if used in a melicious way!).

    here is a link to a course that I am hoping to start next year at leeds university. http://www.nanotech.leeds.ac.uk/eprospects.html - that link shows you azll the prospects of nanotechnlogy in industry. It reallyu is a fascinating subject !

    The only reasoni think it isnt going very far at the moment is because of all the ethical debates going on. You know greenpeace and and all them other damned agencys, who woud prefer to live in the dark ages, are aainst the idea due to the likes of binladen and other unforseen agressores detonating a biological nano bomb, with airborne nanitates which could kill you. Personally I think this is something to look at not now, but when the technology has advanced that far. The positive implications of nanotechnology seem to be far greater than the negative ones.

    (sorry about the spelling and typing :P)
  11. Nov 23, 2003 #10
    CÁDIZ, Spain 2003 a group of investigators from the Port of Santa María has designed and patentred a new electronic system capable of image capture in color of absolute darkness. The MC 46, name of the depositive, has been tested by Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and, according to the test done at the Centro de Tecnologías Físicas Leonardo Torres Quevedo, has been able to capture 3 nanolux (light intensity, the very best aparatus today can only reach 0,01 lux. The inventor Manuel Caballero Chaves "on quote" says that to date this, no other camera has been disigned capable of capturing colores without light. The difference is its extraordinay sensibility. El MC 46 demonstate that with 10 million times less light (0,000000003 lux ó 3 nanolux) it can capature perfect color images. O said in another way, if visible light is formed by electromagnetic vibrations of the longitude of wave approximetely of 350 a 750 nanómeters, el MC 46 works outdide of the visible light spectrum.

    This is what naotecknology is waiting for. Build a naotelecope and mount this camera on it to probe the sub=atomic world between the atom and the plank lenght. It would be cheaper than building a CERN the size of the solar system. The applications of this camera are unlimeted and will change the direction tecknology goes in. A quantum leap.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2003
  12. Nov 25, 2003 #11
  13. Nov 25, 2003 #12
    Russ watters could you give some insight. With nanoteck advancing at the rate it is, when could a nono telecope be built? On my last post i put information about a new patent. How could an instrument like this work at 3 nanolux if the light spectrum is 350 to 750 nanometers? Colors from my understanding are perceived by the human eye because of the properties that the materials possess. All light color frequencies are absorbed by the object except what is returned to the eye. How can the instrument see at 3 anolux if the light spectrum is well above that? I am tring to find info on how this new patent works and have not been sucessfull. The article says this is a new tecknology never used yet, that no one thought of.
  14. Nov 26, 2003 #13
    AFAIK the lux is a measure of the intensity of light, and it has nothing to do with the frequency. A particular frequency (let's say coresponding to a wavelength between 350 and 750 nm) can have any intensity.....
  15. Nov 26, 2003 #14
    I thought that might be the reason thanks for confirming. Then if this instrument can see at 3 nanolux, pitch black and still give clear color pictures, are photons still being recieved from the object to capture image, or is it some other new process?
  16. Nov 26, 2003 #15


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    Actually, I think the problem was with "magnetic flux". CD's don't use it. They use optics, not magnetics. The data is stored by cutting holes in the material such that a beam hitting the disk so that half the light hits the bottom of a hole and half the light strikes the unalterred surface will experience destructive interference (lambda/4 depth). A sensor then reads this "null". No magnetism involved.

  17. Nov 26, 2003 #16
    How many photons per square meter is 3 nanolux? My pathetic estimates gave me 1E9 photons/m2 per sec. Supposing the camera CCD is around 1cm2, thats around 10E4 photons per second. Kinda seems too low, to be usable for high resolution images.
  18. Nov 27, 2003 #17
    I do not have any tecknical data on the size of the camera. I am tring to find this out. The point is that it does give color high resolution images at 3 nanolux, thats why it is breaking point tecknology. Anyone have any ideas how it does it?
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