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Nanotechnology: Revolution in Science

"Nanotechnology is emerging as a breakthrough for tomorrow’s India with exciting applications for the better living of people and all-round development of the nation."

HNF Bureau : August 12, 2007

India’s tradition of science and technology goes back to 5,000 years or more although the renaissance in the field came much later in the seconf half of the 20th century. The Science and Technology infrastructure grew from about Rs.10 million at the time of Independence to a huge value of Rs.30 billion at the advent of 21st century. Significant achievements have been made in various faculties like space science, biotechnology, oceanography, medical science and many other areas of science. The science that is now in focus not only in India but across the globe is nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is emerging as a breakthrough for tomorrow’s India with exciting applications for the better living of people and all-round development of the nation.

To explain the technology, ‘Nano’ is a Greek word that means ‘dwarf’, and materials when reduced to the nano scale (10-9 meter = 1 nano meter) shows drastic changes in their physical, chemical, optical, mechanical and electrical properties. So manipulation of atoms and molecules on a nano scale for deriving out the noble properties of a material is nanotechnology.

The potential of nanotechnology is mind-boggling. It seems the field of nanotechnology is an unconquered area in India. The ‘dwarf’ is therefore going to become a Goliath. Despite Nano being only one-billionth of a meter in length, nanotechnology is finding its way into myriad of applications in all walks of life. India now understands the potential of nanotechnology and sensing the opportunities in it. Domestic players joining hands with foreign companies to bring the World Nano-Economic Congress to India is a glaring evidence of this.

Realising its potential, former President Dr Kalam once mentioned that, “Nano is the greatest building block for healthcare, structural material, electronics, automation etc. and will become the platform for new cutting-edge technologies grow to their optimum for the better living of mankind.”

Besides launching the nanoscience and technology initiative, India has also entered into bilateral nanotechnological programmes with the European Union, Germany, Italy, Taiwan and the United States. A national centre for nanomaterials has also been set up at the International Advanced Research Centre for Power, Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) in Hyderabad in collaboration with countries like Germany, Japan, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, and four products from ARCI have already been transferred to the industry, including water filter systems for rural areas.

The Indian government is actively promoting links between research institutes and industry, and the Department of Science and Technology has cleared three collaborations between public research institutions and the private sector worth US $9 million. The Planning Commission had allocated Rs.100 crore to the Department of Science and Technology during the 10th Plan for promotion of research in nanotech. Subsequently the allocation was enhanced to Rs.180 crore.

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The New Millennium India Technology Leadership Initiative programme of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is also promoting two public-private collaborative ventures for developing nanotechnologies that target drugs to exactly where they are needed in the human body.

Although India’s nanotech research has not yet been matured to compete with international players, there has been some good work from some of the laboratories, particularly from research centres in Bangalore, in synthesising and characterising a large variety of new materials and also discovering a couple of new phenomena. During the last two decades various research labs including CSIR labs, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, National Physical Lab, Delhi, Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), IIT’s of Kanpur, Delhi, Kharagpur etc. including several state physical laboratories are working in the field of nanotechnology.

The faculty of various departments, including chemistry, chemicals and aerospace, are working jointly in various projects. As nanotechnology emerged at the same time all over the world including India, India’s worth in terms of research and experimentation is not lagging behind any Western or European countries. However, the Indians are not being able to produce nano products while other countries have gone a little ahead in producing nano products.

Now, there is substantial awareness in prospective industries regarding the potentials of nanotechnology. Companies like Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Mahindra & Mahindra, Nicholas Piramal and Intel are looking very closely at nanotechnology and have invested around $250 million in the domestic markets. Samsung, which uses nano-silver in various compositions have already entered the Indian market with a range of products based on nanotechnology such as refrigerators, washing machines and air-coolers.

In future, nanotechnology will have a vital role in India’s defense system as it will revolutionise warfare. Therefore, it has become mandatory for a country like India to develop nanotechnology including nanobots.

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science as well as defense research organisations are working on understanding the impacts of nanotechnologies in military applications in coming years. While nanotechnology can provide enormous benefits, this could even lead to the development of super strong, smart and intelligent structures in the field of material sciences which could further enable production of nanobots with new types of explosives and sensors for air, land and space systems.

Also, coating of nanoparticles on fabrics could make them bullet-proof which can be no less than a blessing for the defense personnel. Like electricity or computers before it, nanotech will offer dual-utility, meaning it will have many military as well as commercial uses. Thus, it represents not only grave risks but also wonderful benefits. It is expected that with application of nanotechnology computers will run faster, materials will become harder and medicine will cure diseases that are currently incurable.

Nanoscience would directly benefit humanity when it comes to commercial use, especially in a country like India which has extreme climatic conditions all through the year. Imagine a shirt that protects you from the cold during chilly weather as well as provides you with a cooling effect during the months of May and June. Also, if it is coloured at high temperatures, it could transform into a dark colour during winters so as to provide a soothing effect. The production of smart-clothing is easily possible by putting nanocoating on the fabric. Similarly, stain-free and crease-free clothing, which is already available in the market, is the outcome of this technology.

Since India along with China wants to be the epicenter for this new technological evolution, it is expected to be larger than the IT, medical and Internet boom. If applied efficiently it can make both the nations great. Reference Source: www.caravanalive.com

 

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