The term nanotechnology pertains to the design and use of extremely small tools that reach the size of a nanometer. This revolutionary tool has been used in both the electronic and medical fields in order to make electronic devices perform faster or to deliver very small particles to specific parts of the human body or the cell.
The small particles are technically called nanoparticles and one of the most common examples is the gold (Au) nanoparticle, which is included in the production of nanobiosensors. Associated with nanotechnology is nanopatterning, which is the process of producing mass amounts of microchips that would cut down the cost of manufacturing the original bigger versions of electronic detectors.
More importantly, nanopatterning also includes the higher sensitivity to sensing any reactions that are designed for detection (Katz et al., 2004). For example, the microfluidic system included the use of a tiny volume of fluid, here called nanoliter that can be manipulated to reaction to specific conditions.
The microfluidic system has been designed to detect microamounts of specific substances as well as distinguish which readings are not significant or technically called noise. The microfluidic system is also used in the molecular screening of diseases.
The field of nanotechnology started in the early 1990’s when Feynman (1992) initiated the development of miniature versions of materials using the gold metal. However, Feynman was already lecturing of such possibility in the 1950’s.
Today, nanotechnology is much appreciated because of several advantages the revolutionary technique is presenting. Firstly, the surface ratio that is essential in both electronic and medical fields is much easily attainable using nanoparticles. Secondly, nanoparticles provide the opportunity of reaching small places, which cannot be reached by bigger particles, thus the transport of molecules is simpler using nanoparticles.
In addition, nanoparticles are easier to handle when flow rate are needed to be controlled in experimental setups, mostly due to their small size. Nanoparticles are also easily labeled for tags that are important for detection hence there are now currently an endless list of ways of detecting these tiny particles at different settings, be it in the electronic or medical field (Hahm and Charles, 2004).
Another interesting product that comes from the emergence of nanotechnology is the creation of microreactors, which serve as better versions of the original and bigger reactors. Microreactors serve as tiny venues for the collision and interaction of molecules at a smaller scale and volume.
In the medical field, several drug delivery systems have been designed that are aimed to transport substances to specific sites in the human body and prevent any cross-reaction with the rest of the human body. An interesting example is the use microlipid systems, which are similar to membrane containers that can travel through the circulatory system through intravenous injection.
These microlipid systems, or micelles, commonly contain substances or even deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that may correct any defective gene that may exist in the patient. For cancer patients, microlipid systems may be administered to deliver anti-cancer drugs that should only react with cancer cells and leave the rest of the normal cells in the body alone. It is known that earlier medical therapies often present with a lot of side effects to the patient.
Nanotechnology is therefore a very promising way of enhancing the capabilities of detecting reactions and delivering substances at a very small or nanoscale. The main benefits of this new technology will thus benefit society by making better and more sensitive ways of combating disease and upgrading electronic equipment for imaging, scanning and reading specific parts of the body.
Feynman RP (1992): There is plenty rooms at the bottom. J. Microelec. Tromech. Syst. 1: 60-66.
Hahm JI and ML Charles (2004): Direct ultrasensitive electrical detection of DNA and DNA sequence variations using nanowire nanosensors. Nano Lett. 4: 51-54.
Katz E, Willner I and J Wang (2004): Electroanalytical and bioelectroanalytical systems based on metal and semiconductor nanoparticles. Electroanalysis 16: 19-44.