Nanotechnology has considerably grown in the past years, thanks to focused research and development. After decades of research, the technology continues to revolutionize various industries leading to societal benefits. In this post, we will take a look at the applications and uses of nanotechnology in the fields of agriculture, energy, and medicine.
Nanotechnology Applications in Agriculture
The agricultural industry is in constant search for sustainable options as risks brought on by climate change continue to emerge. In the past, nanotechnology use in agriculture was mostly theoretical. More recently, though, the development of nano chemicals has become a more environment-friendly alternative to traditional agricultural practices. Some of the applications of nanotechnology in agriculture include:
Development of environment-friendly pesticides and fertilizers
Agricultural practices such as soil tilling can lead to erosion and eventually salinization, which could threaten global food security. Research shows that nanomaterials can serve as fertilizers that improve crop quality significantly without the usual toxins that conventional fertilizers give off. Using magnetite (Fe3O4) and silver nanoparticles (SNPs) showed favorable growth and yield of plants.
Improvements in food packaging
One of the main concerns in agriculture is preserving the nutritive value of food items until they reach end consumers. The current use of nanomaterials in producing highly impermeable packaging has proven successful in protecting food from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure and increasing shelf life. Nanosensors can also detect the presence of gases, chemicals, and pathogens in food.
Nanotechnology Applications in Medicine
Medicine is one of the industries that highly benefit from nanotechnology development. The technology’s use even gave birth to the term “nanomedicine.” Nanotechnology use in the field has shown remarkable progress, more specifically in:
Enhancing drug delivery
Nanoparticles deliver drugs and other forms of treatment to specific cell types. These undergo engineering so they can easily target diseased cells. This development benefits many cancer patients, as standard chemotherapy options often affect both healthy and cancer cells.
Improving diagnostic techniques
Nanotechnology also resulted in improvements in diagnostic procedures. Specifically, antibody-fused nanotubes embedded in chips have been helping detect the presence of cancer cells in patients’ bloodstream. A study is also currently in the works on using gold nanorods or elongated microscopic nanoparticles made of gold to detect signs of kidney damage as early as possible.
Nanotechnology Applications in the Energy Sector
Experts are also viewing nanotechnology as an excellent alternative energy source. Most of the nanotechnology research focuses on developing affordable and renewable energy sources without contributing to toxicity. So far, some of the applications of nanotechnology in the energy sector include:
Developing additional energy sources
Experts are currently considering the use of nano-coated drill probes to increase the lifespan of geothermal energy sources. Lighter and stronger rotor blades for wind and tide power plants employ wear-resistant nanomaterials.
Nanotechnology is also used to improve the effectiveness of photovoltaic solar systems (i.e., systems that use solar photovoltaic technology and convert sunlight into electricity by using semiconductors). Nanoparticles help increase the antireflection layers to allow for higher light yields.
Providing additional energy storage
Employing nanotechnology to enhance electrical energy storage, similar to using supercapacitors or storage devices with a high capacity but low voltage limits shows excellent promise. The technology has been contributing to improvements in lithium-ion storage by aiding in the production of heat-resistant and flexible separators.
Thermal energy storage is another field where nanotechnology shows benefits. Nanoporous materials like zeolites, which have excellent water adsorption values and capacity to carry out reversible release and storage of heat, are used as heat storage options for heating grids.
Nanotechnology applications in agriculture, medicine, and energy sectors are only some of the examples of how revolutionary the technology is. Given all these applications and uses, nanotechnology has become a game-changer. What we once thought impossible is now becoming a reality.