Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.
Nanotechnology and nanomaterials can be applied in all kinds of industrial sectors. They are usually found in these areas:
Carbon nanotubes are close to replacing silicon as a material for making smaller, faster and more efficient microchips and devices, as well as lighter, more conductive and stronger quantum nanowires. Graphene's properties make it an ideal candidate for the development of flexible touchscreens.
A new semiconductor developed by Kyoto University makes it possible to manufacture solar panels that double the amount of sunlight converted into electricity. Nanotechnology also lowers costs, produces stronger and lighter wind turbines, improves fuel efficiency and, thanks to the thermal insulation of some nanocomponents, can save energy.
The properties of some nanomaterials make them ideal for improving early diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases or cancer. They are able to attack cancer cells selectively without harming other healthy cells. Some nanoparticles have also been used to enhance pharmaceutical products such as sunscreen.
Air purification with ions, wastewater purification with nanobubbles or nanofiltration systems for heavy metals are some of its environmentally-friendly applications. Nanocatalysts are also available to make chemical reactions more efficient and less polluting.
In this field, nanobiosensors could be used to detect the presence of pathogens in food or nanocomposites to improve food production by increasing mechanical and thermal resistance and decreasing oxygen transfer in packaged products.
Nanotechnology makes it possible to develop smart fabrics that don't stain nor wrinkle, as well as stronger, lighter and more durable materials to make motorcycle helmets or sports equipment.
There are bright and dark spots in the future of nanotechnology. On the one hand, the sector is expected to grow globally, driven by technological advances, increased government support, increased private investment and growing demand for smaller devices, to name a few. However, the environmental, health and safety risks of nanotechnology and concerns related to its commercialisation could hamper market expansion.
The United States, Brazil and Germany will lead the nanotechnology industry in 2024, with an important presence in the Top 15 Asian countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, India, Taiwan and Malaysia. The cosmetics sector will climb positions stealing third place from the biomedical sector in a ranking that will be led by electronics and energy, as it is now.