Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Nanotechnology, often the staple of science fiction, consists of matter manipulation at the molecular or atomic scale. It can mould structures between one and 100 nanometers in size, which is mind-boggling.  To put things into perspective, the human hair is around 80,000- 100,000 nanometers wide.

Its potential implications are with particles miniaturization in manufacturing and industrial operations. The idea of manipulating matter at the atomic or molecular level could lead to a whole new world of possibilities.  It can bring a profound change in industry, life, and commerce: Everything from healthcare, to automobiles, and even the food industry can get affected by advancements in nanotechnology.

According to MarketWatch, in 2019, the global nanotechnology market was valued at USD 1165.90 million and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.50% for the forecast period from 2020-2027. So, what are the potential market applications for nanotechnology? With insights from Forbes, highlighted below are some of the possibilities with nanotechnology:

Clothing

Nanoparticles made of silica can create stainproof coatings for clothes. These nanoparticles can be used in fabrics to repel liquids that tend to stain clothes. These silica nanoparticles can either be sprayed on to the fabric surface or incorporated seamlessly into the fabric weave.

There’s already a company called   Schoeller Technologies that incorporates nanoparticles on fabric surfaces. This allows clothing to act like a lotus leaf when it comes to shedding water.

Another such company, BASF, is using nanotechnology to make fabrics stain-proof.

Furniture

Like clothes, upholstered furniture too can be made stainproof and waterproof. An innovative way that nanotechnology is being used is via carbon nanofiber foam coatings in upholstered furniture. This makes the furniture flame retardant. It is stated that with the aid of carbon nanofibers, flammability in furniture can be reduced by as much as 35 percent.

Today, this technology is being used for both furniture and mattresses.

Electronics

Conventional silicon chips could soon be replaced by carbon nanotubes to create smaller, efficient, and speedier microchips. They can also be used to create quantum nanowires that are light and strong. This could increase the application possibilities for microchips.

IBM is at the forefront of semiconductor technology developments involving carbon nanotubes. It has recently revealed a new technology that will pave the 1.8 nm sized transistors using carbon nanotubes.  To put things into perspective, the most advanced node in use commercially is 5nm, at the time of writing.  These developments could pave the way for more advanced wearables and flexible electronics.

Energy: Japan’s Kyoto University has developed a semiconductor that would enable the manufacturing of solar panels that exponentially increase the amount of electricity converted from the amount of sunlight gathered. The efficiency of solar panels is set to improve with quantum dot solar cell technology.  Further, the friction that is created by the spinning of wind-turbine blades can be reduced with the use of nanoparticles in lubricants. There are many such applications in the energy sector where nanotechnology can be used to bring down costs and increase efficiencies.

Biomedicine

This involves the application of nanotechnology to diagnose, treat, control, and monitor biological systems. In various fields of medicine and biology, the use of nano materials is being investigated: These include diagnostics, drug delivery, cancer- screening, pharmaceutical screening, bio-imaging, and genomic and proteomic studies.

Advances in nanotechnology could lead to a profound improvement in healthcare outcomes over the long-run.

The road ahead

COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for the adoption of many technological trends. Given the profound implications of nanotechnology advancements in health care and many other sectors, with bring a transformative change in life, industry, and commerce.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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