Nanotechnology is now a serious science and by the year 2020, more than $1 trillion worth of products could have been ‘nano-engineered’.
Nanotechnology will bring to the market faster, smarter new products and devices, and will improve existing ones. Computational tools are essential in order to understand properties and processes at this scale, so it is no surprise that nanotechnology and its applications are currently a hot topic of discussion and debate in the computational science community.
The word ‘nano’ is not simply about miniaturisation, although in a lot of cases the technology will lead to smaller components in, for example, computer chips.
The technology relates to materials and devices that are engineered at the billionth of a metre, or 10 to the power of -9 scale. At this scale of atoms and molecules, novel properties that are not often evident in the bulk material can be engineered.
Nanotechnology products currently on the market include nano-zinc particles in non-whitening suncreams, titanium particles on ‘self-cleaning’ glass, stain-resistant clothing, and carbon nanotubes in strong materials. Future developments are predicted to affect most walks of life – from computing to defence, and from medicine to foods. Soon, few areas will remain untouched by nanotechnologists.