10 Frequently Asked Questions about Nanotechnology

Author: Carole A. LeBlanc
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. In general, nanotechnology deals with structures sized between 1 to 100 nanometers (nm), i.e., at the ‘nano scale’ in at least one dimension, and includes developing devices or materials within that size.
1Q: What is meant by Nanomaterials (NMs)?
Materials having at least one external dimension in the size range from about 1-100 nanometers are called Nanomaterials.
2Q: What is Nano engineering?
Nano engineering is engineering at the nanoscale.
3Q: What are the potential ES&H Nanomaterial Risks?
The potential risks are: Increased reactivity due to increased surface area or other unique nonmaterial features, increased absorption due to small size, ability to reach deep airways through pores, cuts, greater retention and translocation by increased penetration of biological barriers.
4Q: What are the three types of Nanomaterials?
The three types of Nanomaterials are: Nanoparticles, Fullerenes and Nanotubes.
5Q: What is Fullerenes?
A fullerene is a molecular structure composed entirely of carbon in the shape of a closed?cage hollow sphere or ellipsoid. Spherical fullerenes are called buckyballs.
6Q: What are Nanotubes?
A fullerene is defined as any molecule, which is composed of carbon in the shape of a hollow sphere, tube, ellipsoid, and many other shapes. The three types of Nanotubes are: Single?walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT), Multi?walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT), Nanobus (Obtained by adding a buckministerfullerene).
7Q: What are the unique uses of Nanomaterials’?
Megatubes: Larger in diameter than nanotubes, and prepared with walls of different thicknesses. Nanomaterials could be potentially used for the transport of a variety of molecules of different sizes. Nano onions’ are particles in spherical shape that is based on multiple carbon layers surrounding a buckyball core proposed for lubricants. Silicon (as opposed to carbon) buckyballs are created around metal (for example, tungsten) ions and is suggested for storing quantum bits. Fullerites are solid?state manifestation of fullerenes, and related compounds and materials. ‘Ultrahard fullerite’ is a term used to describe material produced by high?pressure high?temperature (HPHT). Such treatment converts fullerite into a nanocrystalline form of diamond which has been reported to exhibit remarkable mechanical properties.
8Q: What are the US State Regulations on Nanomaterials?
California has taken the least step in addressing Nanomaterials as an EC, largely through voluntary reporting efforts. California and several states have listed Nanomaterials as a priority contaminant of concern.
9Q: What are the International regulations on Nanomaterials?
The European Union (EU) is regulating Nanomaterials under the Regulation, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation. It involves labeling to identify products containing Nanomaterials and listing Nanomaterials content in Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), the equivalent of Material safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) in the US. Individual countries are also reviewing their regulatory regimes with respect to Nanomaterials.
10Q: What are the present uses of Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology could be made use of in many commercial products and processes, for example, Nanomaterials are used for manufacturing lightweight, tough materials for boat hulls, automotive parts and sporting equipment. Nanomaterials are also used to make cosmetics and sunscreens. Nanostructured goods could be used in producing space-saving insulators, which are helpful when weight and size are at a premium—for example, when insulating pipelines at distant places, or reducing loss of heat from an old house. Nanoceramics are also used in certain dental implants or to fill gaps in diseased bones. Certain pharmaceutical products are being reformulated with nano particles to develop their absorption.

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