You are on page 1of 13

2009

Lahore School of Economics Behrawar Khan (08u0065) Section D

[THE IMPLICATIONS AND APPLICATIONS OF NANOSCIENCE]
The pros and cons of nanotechnology, as seen from the eyes of the critics and the acclaimers. Putting the technology on the stand and analyzing the use it has in science and medicine and also the impacts it might have on the environment and society as a whole.

Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience Table of contents Introduction The Pros and Cons What does the future hold? Conclusion Bibliography 2 4 9 11 1 .

Another concern about the small size of the nanoparticles is that it could be breathed in. more slippery ski wax and super strong carbon fiber car parts. good and in between. perhaps accumulating in the lings like crystals. This threat as the scientist put it. leaking tiny robots each smaller than most grains of dust. Discussions of nanotechnology and other innovations in science and technology raise important questions for sociologists. scientific and technological change increasingly presents us with different risks. causing damage to the body. Until quite recently. they can spread like pollen and consume the world in a matter of days. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. nanotechnology has become a part of the folklore and science fiction novels. portraying it like a big beast which is unstoppable. Tiny robots escaping from a laboratory after an experiment going wrong.bad. then it would seem that the negative risks of further development in nanotechnology would far outweigh the positives. Humans have always had to face risks of one kind or another. Some critics have worried about the implications and unforeseen dangers of this technology. Nanotechnology devices could perhaps be one day be programmed to selectively target a group of people with certain genes etc. The work of science fiction has certainly handicapped the reputation of this invention. If these disasters were likely. is the µgrey goo problem¶. the introduction and use of nanotechnology has been modest. being currently used. from grey goo to unlimited and safe energy. But nanotechnology is an exciting new area in science and technology. self reproducing and learning from experience which is programmed to eat and consume everything and anything in its path.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience Introduction In the modern day literature. A cloud of deadly nanoparticles which are self sustaining. So far. but today¶s risks are qualitatively different from those that came in earlier times. and a broad definition of nanotechnology involves anything that can be produced with dimensions less than 100 nanometers. for example more transparent skin creams. Science fictions writers have some scientists worried that if the technology could be made for nanoparticles to self-replicate. However. Others worry that this form of technology can fall into the wrong hands and can be used for military purposes. human 2 . enthusiasts for nanotechnology are investigating whether it could be used to improve the delivery of cancer fighting drugs or whether nanoscale carbon could be used to increase the speed and power of computer circuits. As we have seen above.

famine and storms which are from the natural world and are not realted to the activities of humans. dangerous such as drought. they are the outcomes of our own interventions into nature. We will look at how nanotechnology is. 3 . Today. As we shall see. if it is. earth quakes. however we are faced with manufactured risks. risks that are created by the impact of our own knowledge and technology on the natural world. realted to this form of risk and to what extent is it necessary to understand the outcomes before we unleash the hidden +secrets of this µPhilosophers stone¶. many health and environmental risks facing contemporary societies are instances of manufactured risks.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience societies were threatened by external risk.

Inc. Creating devices smaller than 100 nanometers opens many doors for the development of new ways to capture. ConsERV. from medicine to industry and from energy to social impact of introducing this technology. transfer. Nanofabrication is the process of designing and creating devices on the nanoscale. and transfer energy. A solution to the global energy crisis requires revolutionary new technology. We shall go in a chronological order of the role of Nanoscience in different fields of the world. we shall look at all the arguments presented by scientist. and a cathode. LEDs have been around for decades. When voltage is applied to the system. which should be cheap. which create an anode. Inc. uses nanoscale polymer membranes to increase the efficiency of heating and cooling systems and has already proven to be a lucrative design. inexpensive. and storage of energy for the development of consumer products. and environmentally sound. This is called 4 . previously established and entirely new companies such as BetaBatt. whether be it good or bad. The inherent level of control that nanofabrication could give scientists and engineers would be critical in providing the capability of solving many of the problems that the world is facing today related to the current generation of energy technologies. Breakthroughs in nanotechnology open up the possibility of moving beyond our current alternatives for energy supply by introducing technologies that are more efficient. store. we shall examine them based on facts. A New York based company called Applied NanoWorks. this company and others like it have been developing a special variant of LED called the white LED.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience The Pros and Cons In this section of the article. and figures from legitimate sources. has been developing a consumer product that utilizes LED technology to generate light. The Polymer membranes can be designed to selectively allow particles of one size and shape to pass through while preventing others of different dimensions. An important subfield of nanotechnology related to energy is nanofabrication. a product developed by the Dais Analytic Corporation. White LEDs consist of semi-conducting organic layers that are only about 100 nanometers in distance from each other and are placed between two electrodes. environmentally friendly and both light and strong compared to the current technology. light is generated when electricity passes through the two organic layers. Recently. and Oxane Materials are focusing on nonmaterial as a way to develop and improve upon older methods for the capture.

Today's monoclonal antibodies are able to bind to only a single type of protein or other antigen.001 cubic microns. The semiconductor properties of the organic layers are what allow for the minimal amount of energy necessary to generate light. This gives more control to the designer of the battery. a single red blood cell is about 8 microns in diameter (over 80 times larger in linear dimensions than our 100 nanometer processor). we could design a small device able to identify and kill cancer cells. Device of that small size range could easily fit in the circulatory system and would even be able to enter individual cells. and air conditioning. and a supply of some poison which could be selectively released and was able to kill a cell identified as cancerous. and have not proven effective against most cancers. the nanometers can allow to shrink their medical devices down to less than a 0. Researchers have now begun to utilize nanotechnology for battery technology. Occupancy statistics would allow determination of concentration. The computer could 5 . cholesterol monitors. By contrast. changing molecular structure for better management of temperature In the fields of medicine. and early warning system about any potential infection or diseases and even transmit that information directly to their doctors and specialist in the respective fields. Thermal applications also are future applications of nanotechnology creating low cost system of heating. The cancer killing device suggested here could incorporate a dozen different binding sites and so could monitor the concentrations of a dozen different types of molecules.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience electroluminescence. Small computers which could be fitted in that size could be life savers. and would periodically sample its environment by determining whether the binding sites were or were not occupied. The device would circulate freely throughout the body. several binding sites to determine the concentration of specific molecules. M-Phase Technologies in conglomeration with Rutgers University and Bell Laboratories have utilized nonmaterial to alter the wetting behavior of the surface where the liquid in the battery lies to spread the liquid droplets over a greater area on the surface and therefore have greater control over the movement of the droplets. ventilation. Research for longer lasting batteries has been an ongoing process for years. Given such molecular tools. The device would have a small computer. These devices could act like blood pressure monitors. This control prevents reactions in the battery by separating the electrolytic liquid from the anode and the cathode when the battery is not in use and joining them when the battery is in need of use.

One field of application is in sunscreens. A sunscreen based on mineral nanoparticles such as titanium dioxide offer several advantages. safer. when a cancerous profile was encountered. Modern textiles are wrinkle-resistant and stain-repellent. Nanoceramic particles have improved the smoothness and heat resistance of common household equipment such as the flat iron. providing products with novel functions ranging from easy-to-clean to scratch-resistant. Lighter and stronger materials will be of immense use to aircraft manufacturers. cheaper. Nanotechnology has the potential to make construction faster. Nano-optics could allow for an increase in precision of pupil repair and other types of laser eye surgery. Much like aerospace. such novel products have a promising potential. Combustion engines will also benefit from parts that are more hard-wearing and more heat-resistant. An inevitable use of nanotechnology will be in heavy industry. Titanium oxide nanoparticles have a comparable UV protection 6 . lighter and stronger materials will be useful for creating vehicles that are both faster and safer.and stain-repellent or wrinkle-free. Textiles with a nanotechnological finish can be washed less frequently and at lower temperatures. release the poison. through embedded ³wearable electronics´. Nanotechnology has been used to integrate tiny carbon particles membrane and guarantee full-surface protection from electrostatic charges for the wearer. leading to increased performance. and more varied. nanotechnology also offers scratch resistant surface coatings based on nanocomposites.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience determine if the profile of concentrations fit a pre-programmed "cancerous" profile and would. Nanotechnology is already impacting the field of consumer goods. in the mid-term clothes will become ³smart´. The use of engineered nanofibers already makes clothes water. Already in use are different nanoparticles improved products. Especially in the field of cosmetics. The first sunglasses using protective and anti-reflective ultrathin polymer coatings are on the market. where weight is a major factor. For optics. Nanotechnology would help to reduce the size of equipment and thereby decrease fuel-consumption required to get it airborne. Spacecraft will also benefit. Automation of nanotechnology construction can allow for the creation of structures from advanced homes to massive skyscrapers much more quickly and at much lower cost. The traditional chemical UV protection approach suffers from its poor long-term stability. Many other applications have been developed by research institutions such as the Textiles Nanotechnology Laboratory at Cornell University. The most prominent application of nanotechnology in the household is self-cleaning or ³easy-to-clean´ surfaces on ceramics or glasses.

This kind of waste may be very dangerous because of its size.6% of the 2025 population who live in Western industrial democracies. and disposal. Carbon nanotubes ± characterized by their microscopic size and incredible tensile strength ± are frequently likened to asbestos. storage and distribution. including their fabrication. The impact on humans or the environment may vary at different stages of the life cycle. Although the energy applications of this technology is promising but technology is a double edge sword. raising concerns that exposure to carbon nanotubes may lead to mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos). due to their needle-like fiber shape. results demonstrated that long thin carbon nanotubes showed the same effects as long thin asbestos fibers. How these nanoparticles behave inside the body is one of the issues that need to be resolved. The extremely small size of nonmaterial also means that they are much more readily taken up by the human body than larger sized particles. In other words. To properly assess the health hazards of engineered nanoparticles the whole life cycle of these particles needs to be evaluated. In a recent study that introduced carbon nanotubes into the abdominal cavity of mice. but lose the cosmetically undesirable whitening as the particle size is decreased. application and potential abuse. shape and surface reactivity with the surrounding tissue. Most human-made nanoparticles do not appear in nature.7% of today¶s population to 8. A quick glance at demographics provides some insight into what such a post-nano world might look like. According to the World Bank. and the upper layer of society in the developing and nondeveloping world. the Western industrial democracies will shrink from 12. The behavior of nanoparticles is a function of their size. µthe differences in the quality of life will be even starker than today between these two 7 . so living organisms may not have appropriate means to deal with nanowaste. The kinds of nanotech-inspired wonders alluded to throughout this report may only be feasible for the 8.6% by 2025. not for the rural poor and the underside of all urban populations.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience property as the bulk material. The same property of the selective nature of the porous membranes used in heating could be used as biological weapons or chemical warfare. At the same time in the developing world the population will double. It can float in the air and might easily penetrate animal and plant cells causing unknown effects. Nanopollution is a generic name for all waste generated by nanodevices or during the nonmaterial manufacturing process.

draws attention to the existing potential of nanotechnology to affect dangerous and destabilising µrefinements¶ of existing nuclear weapons designs . Indeed. Clearly. Howard (2002) concedes that µonce the basic technology is available. the outcome will be swift and very lopsided.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience worlds¶. 2001). If one side has such weapons and the other doesn¶t. as nanotech-based treatments may be initially expensive and hence only accessible to the very rich. The potentially catastrophic but long-term danger that the deliberate misuse of nanotechnology for military aggression poses has already been sketched out. it would not be difficult to adapt it as an instrument of war or terror. we will need much further research into defensive systems as this technology becomes more mature. Those who do not may find it increasingly difficult to afford the technological wonders that it engenders.¶ (Roco and Bainbridge. Such developments hint at the worrying possibility of a nanotechnology arms race. The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports these sentiments: µThose who participate in the nano revolution stand to become very wealthy.¶ 8 . µIt is clear that offensive weapons made using advanced nanotechnology can only be stopped by defensive systems made using advanced nanotechnology as well. One near-term example will be in medical care. Zyvex (2002) sketch out the underlying rationale for such an occurrence.such fourth generation nuclear weapons are new types of explosives that can be developed in full compliance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).¶ Gsponer (2002). This is just a specific instance of the general rule that technological superiority plays an important and often critical role in determining the victor in battle. on the other hand.

The future of the technology is in the hands of the regulators and the users. the experts and the potential consumer of this technology. shinny insulating and transparent properties. where the silicon is heated that they fuse together to form a single see through sheet. Nanotechnology doesn t really mean microscopic robots or microscopic computers. Imaging a world that is run by microscopic artificial intelligence is really big pill to swallow but if we examine the current IT industry. the speed with which µmicrochips¶ are giving way to the µnanochips¶. We do not necessarily need to swallow microchips. Making up matter from the atomic level. The usage of the technology is dependent on the intentions behind obtaining it. but one cannot ignore the negative more deadly effects of these invisible particles. The process is at the nano level. that day isn¶t far away when we might have doors fitted with nanoparticles (when a small current is passed through them they become see through) in every home. as some critics put it. We have already seen Nanoscience being used for a thousand of years. The breakthrough it will have in medicine and sciences are mythical but they are attainable. Just like the atomic bomb and the jet engine. but the economic drift between the rich and the poor and the developed and the undeveloped nations would become bigger. but the possibility of producing a pacemaker which could be as light as a feather. strong as steel and the 9 . hard. Magnifying that into the macro level. as graphite and diamond. the arrangement of the carbon atoms in diamond are closely pact and that¶s why it gives a very strong. changing the physical properties of a matter at that level can give u different results in terms of its physical and chemical properties. The process for turning sand into glass is a process changing sand particles to a see through silicon based glass. In the end it all comes down to the governments. We have seen this form of transformation being there in nature. we find that it s strong and lighter than steel. but the topic is a simple concept. If this technology is incorporated in the present world the economic and social benefits are utopian in nature. brittle and conducting property.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience What does the future hold? Although the applications of the Nanoscience are countless and the advantages of it are unlimited. and yes it is not a joke but it may not have been known as Nanoscience but alchemy. And graphite the atoms are loosely packed thus giving it an opaque. We have the example of Carbon fiber which is sheets of carbon manipulated at the nano level to be tightly knitted together. Both are a form of carbon but the difference they have at the nano level.

now who wouldn t want one of those? 10 .Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience capacity to generate electricity to run forever. with minimal wear and tear and a self sustaining heart. A perfect heart.

the good bad and the ugly. This technology should be given a chance after a thorough research is done. because advancement in technology is not growth. after comparing a number of articles written since the first concept of nanotechnology was introduced. we must understand that this technology carries risk which could be dire in nature. but one cannot ignore that a great heat wave swallowing the earth and melting ice caps and making the planet steam roll to its boiling point (global warming) is a consequence of our human activities. 11 . Although the portrayal of tiny robots swarming the earth and devouring everything in its path. We have seen the applications of what the future holds for such type of innovative development. ³the grey goo problem¶. but I wouldn¶t want to get dependant on such type of technology and neither should the public. I believe that this technology can solves most of our problems. With every new invention many ethical questions are raised like we must understand that there more people on this earth who are unable to purchase tuberculosis tablets and jumping onto a more expensive cure with the help of nanotechnology can jeopardize not only human life but also humanity as a whole. Just like a an advocate of nuclear energy being a source of unlimited power. but on its risks and its side effects in the environment and the society. is a farfetched idea.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience Conclusion In the end. The promises this science makes are without a doubt magnificent in nature but if history is a lesson we must learn from. not on its benefits.

Nanotechnology and Medicine. Retrieved 2009.html Nanotechnology. from Wikipedia: http://en. Retrieved 2009.wikipedia. (n.wikipedia.). R. Congress considers ethical. Retrieved 2009.). Retrieved 2009.org/wiki/Energy_applications_of_nanotechnology Environmental implications of nanotechnoogy.d.). from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.d.org/wiki/Health_implications_of_nanotechnology Implications of nanotechnology.Lahore School of Economics The implications and applications of Nanoscience Bibliography (2003).). from The Baker Institute Energy Forum: http://www.d..).). Issues in Science and Technology. Retrieved 2009.easst.org/wiki/Regulation_of_nanotechnology 12 . (n. from Wikipedia: http://en. Retrieved 2009. (n.com/nanotech/nanotechAndMedicine. Secret military nanotechnology development.). from Nanowerk: http://www.).wikipedia.). Retrieved 2009.). Retrieved 2009. from Wikipedia: http://en. A. Retrieved 2009. from Wikipedia: http://en.d.com/Details. from A to Z Nanotechnology: http://www.zyvex.org/wiki/Implications_of_nanotechnology Jamison.html Energy applications of nanotechnology. (n.php Energy and Nanotechnology. CRN Scenario Working Group.org/wiki/Nanotechnology Nanotechnology in Medicine . X. (n. & PARC.wikipedia. from The European Association for Study of Science and Technology: http://www.). C.Nanomedicine.d.nanowerk. (n. soial impact of nanotechnolgy. (n. Social and Political Concerns Regarding Nanotechnology Development.d. Retrieved 2009. Retrieved 2009.asp?ArticleID=1072#_Difficulties_in_Predicting Health implications of nanotechnology.d.com/spotlight/spotid=3651. On Nanotechnology and Society. Retrieved 2009. (2007.wikipedia.).html Regulatio of nanotechnology. (n.d.wikipedia. Retrieved 2009. (n.rice.d. (n.net/review/sept2005/jamison Merkle. (n.org/wiki/Health_implications_of_nanotechnology Health implications of nanotechnology.azonano. Copyright 2007 CRN.org/wiki/Environmental_implications_of_nanotechnology Greenpeace.understandingnano.edu/energy/research/energyprogram/nanotechnology. from Wikipedia: http://en. from Zyvex Instruments: http://www. from Wikipedia: http://en.d. from Understanding Nanomedicine: http://www.d.d. december 12).com/nanomedicine. (n.