After more than 20 years of basic nanoscience research and more than a decade of focused R&D under the NNI, applications of nanotechnology are delivering in both expected and unexpected ways on nanotechnology’s promise to benefit society.
Nanotechnology is helping to considerably improve, even revolutionize, many technology and industry sectors: information technology, energy, environmental science, medicine, homeland security, food safety, and transportation, among many others. Described below is a sampling of the rapidly growing list of benefits and applications of nanotechnology.
Most benefits of nanotechnology depend on the fact that it is possible to tailor the essential structures of materials at the nanoscale to achieve specific properties, thus greatly extending the well-used toolkits of materials science. Using nanotechnology, materials can effectively be made to be stronger, lighter, more durable, more reactive, more sieve-like, or better electrical conductors, among many other traits. There already exist over 800 everyday commercial products that rely on nanoscale materials and processes:
• Nanoscale additives in polymer composite materials for baseball bats, tennis rackets, motorcycle helmets, automobile bumpers, luggage, and power tool housings can make them simultaneously lightweight, stiff, durable, and resilient.Nanoscale additives to or surface treatments of fabrics help them resist wrinkling, staining, and bacterial growth, and provide lightweight ballistic energy deflection in personal body armour.
• Nano-engineered materials make superior household products such as degreasers and stain removers; environmental sensors, alert systems, air purifiers and filters; antibacterial cleansers; and specialized paints and sealing products.
• Nanostructured ceramic coatings exhibit much greater toughness than conventional wear-resistant coatings for machine parts. In 2000, the U.S. Navy qualified such a coating for use on gears of air-conditioning...