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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The New Frontier: Nano Technology is the Future

When Columbus found America, he uncovered the "American Frontier." When we defied the barrier
of gravity and reached space, that was known as the "Space Frontier." Since Richard Feynman's famous speech in 1959, where he stated, "There's plenty of room at the bottom," the race into the nano-Frontier began. The book The Coming Era of Nanotechnology written in 1986 by Eric Drexler setting up the basis for the decades to come. Now about 30 years after, scientists are on the verge of breaking through and opening up the world a little wider but on a tiny scale. This new nano scale technology is the "New Frontier."

So what is nano technology? Nano technology is a new and budding field that utilizes molecules to create machines, known as molecular machines. that are just are generally between the size of 1 to 100 nano meters long, tall or wide. To put this into perspective, a piece of paper is 100,000 nano meters thick. This means that up to one hundred thousand of these machines stacked up on top of each other to equal the thickness of width of that piece of paper. It's astounding and these machines shouldn't be underestimated.

The importance of this field is obvious and has certainly been recognized in recent years both by world class scientists and the Swedish Academy who award the honorary Nobel prize. The 2016 Nobel prize in chemistry was awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa jointly for research on molecular machines. This research is said to make the basics of molecular machines in the future because they showed the world how to connect our understanding of molecules to create engines, conductors, axles, rotors, and much more.   

There is currently research going on in several universities and institutions around the world who are trying to learn how to utilize these machines. For example, they are making remote controlled nano-rockets, nano "carrying packages" that bring necessary drugs and antibiotics to parts of the body that we can't. They are making nano cars, like the one shown in the picture, factories, and even malignant cell removers to fight cancer.  The more research goes into this field, the more it becomes conspicuous that this is where the future lies. But how are these complex machines being created by a few molecules in a lab?

These machines are created by synthetically created bonds that are heavily controlled by the chemist who is making them. However, this is a lot more difficult that it sounds. Molecules are constantly moving and it is very tough to control what it will react with, where it will move, and how it will bond with the other parts of the machine. A few chemists have gotten extremely creative in the last few decades on creating various structures that could come together into the astounding creations I spoke about b. I would recommend watching the videos below to get a better understanding of how everything comes together.

 These same scientists also figured out how to control these machines by using certain switches turned on and off by certain changes in the environment. These changes include triggering a reaction, or interlocking two molecules together to make one that could control the other. One type of engine that has already been created by a team at Rice University in 2006 used carbon molecule's that rotate when exposed to specific frequencies of light. An application of this that has already been implemented and is shown in the video linked below is the nano car that I was talking about earlier. They are amazing, and when I first saw it, it seemed like I was looking at the first step into the future. I believe this is how people felt when they saw the Wright brothers fly into the air or when man first laid foot on the moon. 

 Don't worry if this is still very confusing, and I understand since it is to me too to be honest, but the field is just getting up and running. The more research that goes into it, the clearer everything will become. But why does any of this matter? Why are people dedicating their lives to the research of going small, and how can this lead to dreaming big

The possibilities that were created by the research of these 3 scientists and their innovative way to make nano engines and machines were revolutionary. By using these machines, we could create anything at a smaller scale that ever before. The applications are endless and the future is open. In the next 10 years, scientists predicted, nano factories will have been created to create many machines for every day use. The future is small and it's coming a lot faster that it may seem. This is the new frontier.

Check out:
Research done by Rice University:

Nobel Prize Research Explanation and very amazing things that have been created using nano technology and future ideas including the Nano Car and the antibiotic carrying rockets I talked about! I would highly recommend watching both of these:

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