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The Fascinating History and Evolution of Nanotechnology

Prashant Magar Mar 23, 2019
Nanotechnology is a subject of special interest in the scientific community. Mr. Taniguchi of Tokyo Science University defined it in 1974, as the process of separation, consolidation, and deformation of materials by one atom or one molecule.
The field of nanotechnology is of tremendous importance in the production of devices of many kinds. This field has been intensely researched and speculated about. It is the technique of building or making things with atomic precision.
When every atom is thoughtfully planned and arranged in the given scheme of things, it results in a super device with a lot of applications. Although, the development in this field is a recent phenomenon, the core concepts of this science were laid down, long back in the 1950s.
Richard Feynman, a physicist and Nobel prize winner laid the foundation of this field, with his landmark address at the California Institute of Technology in December, 1959. He had proposed the idea of technology that would accommodate volumes of information on a needle point.

Conceptual Origins of Its Foundations

The concept of nanotechnology has been in use since ancient times, even when it was not defined. Vulcanization of rubber, paintings, and various other processes employed the use of its principles, even without realizing the greater significance of these techniques.
One-billionth of a meter is one nanometer, which roughly amounts to ten atoms placed side-by-side. Devices which are precisely dealt in, or contain parts with the precision of less than 100 nanometers (nm) are included as the products of nanotechnology.
James Maxwell had first made certain observations regarding the maneuvering of individual molecules, by utilizing the concept known as 'Maxwell's Demon'.
The actual attempts of observing and measuring the particles were done by Richard Zsigmondy, through the analysis of gold sols. He was the first person to characterize and classify the size of particles in the nanometer range.
Irving Langmuir, who won the 1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Katharine B. Blodgett introduced the world to the concept of a monolayer, a layer of a material one molecule thick. It was Feynman, who in his memorable address of 1959, envisioned the idea of enormous space undetected by humans that can be used effectively.
Manipulation of atoms and molecules was not achieved at the time he made his remarks. As a result, his theory was simply thought to be a fantastic visualization. It was only in the later decades that the world understood the implications of his statement. He had suggested a bottom-up approach for manipulating the individual atoms of a material.
He also offered rewards for solving two challenges: first was to create a 'nanomotor' for converting energy into movement, by generating forces of extremely low order; and the second one was accommodation of letters of an encyclopedia on a needle head by nanoscaling.
The first prize was won by William McLellan in 1960, when he created a 250-microgram 2000-rpm motor, consisting of 13 different parts. The next prize was achieved by Tom Newman in 1985, when he wrote 25,000 letters of a novel on a needle point area, by means of an electron beam.
Moore's law, formulated on the basis of the observation by Gordon Moore, also specifies the impact of nanotechnology in building computers. He stated that the number of transistors incorporated on an integrated circuit would rise exponentially, such that the performance of the circuit would double every two years.
Every digital electronics equipment seemed to obey Moore's law in terms of their memory capacity, speed of operation, or external feature integration. In fact, it almost seems that smaller the size of a device, greater are the features ingrained in it.
The behavior and handling of atoms and molecules were further studied by Dr. Suntola and his aids in Finland. Dr. Drexler, who famously explored the nanoscale phenomena and devices, had another interesting perspective about this field, which was called 'Molecular Technology'.
Richard Jones published a simplified work on nanotechnology for the common reader, wherein he describes various terms associated with the branch.
The current practices enlist exciting new initiatives, such as the use of bacteria for powering spy drones and small robots, or using plant viruses to build the elements of this science. Researchers all over the world are very enthusiastic to carry the field of nanoscience forward at a brisk pace.