Though nano denotes very small values, often a billionth of a measure, the names that paved the way to the invention of nanotechnology involve big names in the field of science. This sophisticated technology can put sacks of fruits in a tiny capsule, for instance, and that overwhelms the imagination. Definitely no single individual can be responsible for the invention of nanotechnology.
The term “nanotechnology” was coined by Norio Taniguchi in the year 1974. He was a professor from Tokyo University of Science doing a study on describing semiconductor processes. Everything started while he was researching about abrasive mechanisms involving high precision machining using brittle and hard materials. Earlier, in 1959, Richard Feynman did a study on molecules and atoms manipulation which is believed to have contributed much to the idea of this technology.
How It All Started
In 1959 an important lecture was given by Feynman on harnessing molecules and atoms. Through the use of special instruments, he said, exploiting the potentials of these microscopic elements can possibly produce incredible results that can benefit industries. The term nanotechnology was not yet in use, but the ideas he was espousing was giving form to it and preparing its foundational precepts.
Then came the works of Taniguchi, revealing more pertinent data on the subject and giving the whole thing a name. Particularly, he was interested about separating and consolidating atoms and molecules to complete the invention of nanotechnology. Later, in 1986, Dr. K Eric Drexler gathered all available data and composed the first book on the technology. The term nanotechnology became popular in the field of modern science, especially with Drexler’s books titled “Nanosystems” and “Engine of Creation.”
The 1980s to the Present: The Nano Era
The 1980s and onwards to the present time saw the emergence of nano terms and nanomaterials. This was the result especially of the availability of the scanning tunneling microscope or STM. This instrument made possible getting clear surface images at the atomic level. This amazing equipment was invented by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer in 1986. Then, the breakthrough with fullrenes followed with the techniques of manipulating them. Fullrenes are carbon molecules and cylindrical fullrenes are called carbon buckytubes or nanotubes. So went the use of more nano terms and nanomaterials.
At this time, semiconductors were being developed, particularly nanocrystals, and the study on it contributed to the invention of nanotechnology and its development. And then came more nano terms and nanomaterials like “nanoparticles” especially with the increased use of metal oxide nanoparticles.
Then, in 1987, a breakthrough on engineered protein happened. Later, more similar events led to the systematized presentation of the technology as a university course. The next decade saw the proliferation of manipulated carbon nanotubes and the creation of the powerful atomic forcemicroscope gave way to further developments.
Though still in its fledgling stage, experts see its potential benefits. It can be used to make clean and pure water out of polluted ones and improve agricultural products, even those genetically engineered, making them safe and economical.
It can also be used to produce alternative and more cost-effective energy sources, pollution-free industries, more potent but safer medicines, vitamins, and heath supplements. And there are strong possibilities on revolutionizing medical diagnosis, prognosis, surgery, and transplants. There are also amazing possibilities for appliances and computers.
With miscalculated application of the new technology, there might be dangerous risks involved, too. Wrong calculation with regards to the manufacture of health and medical products is an example. More studies are needed to fully ascertain its effects on the body and environment in the long run.
This is not to mention its social consequences. For instance, how will social life be affected with humans having nanorobots or nano engineered organisms partially running their body and mental systems?
Tom is a free lancer writer and content builder of http://www.whoinventedit.net/ and now a days he is doing Invention of nanotechnology.