There is a certain irony that the Mission Impossible theme song is my ringtone seeing as I believe nothing is impossible.
When you’re in the field of Nanotechnology, there is no such thing as impossible; the possibilities are infinite and the discoveries are untold.
All great inventions haven’t happened.
I really believe we’re at the horizon of a whole new set of advances in technology that are going to be revolutionary in nature.
Think small, very small.
No, even smaller.
Measurement of the diameter of a single hydrogen atom is one tenth of a nanometre. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre; for perspective, a millimetre is 1/1000th of a metre, as is often seen on a common ruler. Take a line one millimetre long and cut it into 1000 equal parts, and no we’re not there yet. Now take that line segment which is one millionth of a metre, and cut it into 1000 equal parts and you’ve got nanometres (nm). For a visual reference a human hair is roughly 50,000 nanometres in diameter.
Understanding the characteristics and behaviour of small particles, and manipulating or even creating small particles can foreseeably impact nearly every aspect of our lives.
Think big, very big.
The practical applications of nanotechnology are endless; with potential impacts on medicine, electronics and computers, textiles, consumer goods, or even addressing pollution and environmental contaminants.
It is easy to imagine practical nanotechnology:
- targeted molecules for the delivery of drugs in the body,
- nanocoatings of ions to fight bacterial infection,
- thin flexible digital displays for computers,
- nanofibre waterproofing and odour proofing of materials,
- nanoparticle filtration of water or capture of greenhouse gases
These examples are just the beginning of the potential of nanotechnology.
Many of these applications (along with a multitude of others) are already possible, and with refinement many more will become common in our everyday lives.
Modern science isn’t just something that happens behind closed doors, involving lab coat and safety glasses wearing, socially awkward geniuses (ok, in some cases it is); The goal of modern science, and specifically in the case of nanotechnology, is the betterment of our lives. Scientists around the globe are engaged in the pursuit of mastering various nano scale problems, in hopes of improving our quality of life.
Knowledge is power, and through understanding the very small things we can have a very big impact on our world.
We are adventurers, explorers, pioneers looking for ways to make the world a better place through technological advances. This is all done through a combination of education, creative thinking, and turning unimaginable ideas into a reality!
Many people think all the big things are done; space travel, internet, smart phones.
They aren’t all done.
If I could impress upon you one important message that can be used in everyday life but is applicable to Nanotechnology, let it be this: define your future by what you see ahead of you, not what has happened in the past.
Every day there is an opportunity to learn, grow, experience new adventures and to create new opportunities and to live ingeniously!
Albert Einstein once said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying,” and in this context it can be put into the context of invention. There is so much to do to improve the lives of future generations, and I want my grandchildren and their grandchildren to see a better version of the world we currently live in.
We’re not done yet and the best is yet to come!