The utilisation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale for industrial purposes is known as nanotechnology, or just nanotech. The initial and most popular definition of nanotechnology, currently known as molecular nanotechnology, focused on the specific technological objective of accurately manipulating atoms and molecules for the creation of macroscale objects.
Governments have poured billions of dollars towards the study of nanotechnology because of the wide range of possible applications (both industrial and military). Prior to 2012, the United States contributed $3.7 billion through its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the European Union $1.2 billion, and Japan $750 million. Between 2001 and 2004, more than sixty nations established nanotechnology research and development (R&D) projects.
Japan came in second with $1.2 billion, followed by the US and EU with $2.1 billion each in 2012. Nearly every aspect of our life is impacted by nanotechnology, including materials and manufacturing, electronics, computers, telecommunication, and information technologies, healthcare, agriculture, the environment, and energy storage.
why is it necessary?
Both inside and outside the body, nanomaterials have use. The combination of nanomaterials with biology has produced applications for physical therapy, drug delivery, analytical tools, and diagnostic gadgets. With the use of this technology, it is now possible to deliver medications directly to specific cells, resulting in higher efficacy and fewer adverse effects. Due to the fact that this technology allows for the artificial production of cells, nanomaterials have also increased the possibility of healing damaged tissues.
Food that is safer, of higher quality, and with better texture and flavour could be produced thanks to nanotechnology. E. coli can be detected with a contamination sensor that uses a light flash. Bacteria can be killed by antimicrobial packaging made of cinnamon or oregano oil, or nanoparticles of zinc, calcium, etc. Food that needs oxygen to be fresh can be protected by the nano-enhanced barrier. The solubility of vitamins, antioxidants, healthful omegas, etc. can be improved through nano-encapsulation.
Herbicides, chemical fertilisers, and genes can all be effectively injected into the desired area of the plant thanks to the nanocapsule. This assures little environmental pollution and a steady, consistent release of the essential ingredient to the plants. The efficient use of natural resources including water, nutrients, chemicals, and other inputs is made possible by the nanosensors and delivery systems, leading to precision farming.
The effectiveness of the current solar panels can be increased by this technique. Additionally, it may enable more affordable and effective solar panel production. It can increase the effectiveness of fuel production and petroleum material use. Many batteries that have a better power density, are lighter, more efficient, less flammable, and quick to charge already employ it.
It could possibly deal with the current pollution issue. Through rapid impurity identification and water purification, it can offer access to inexpensive, safe drinking water. In comparison to conventional technologies that require pumping groundwater for treatment, using nanotechnology to eliminate industrial water pollution through chemical reactions can be done more cheaply. Detecting, identifying, filtering, and neutralising dangerous chemical or biological substances in the air and soil are further capabilities of nanotechnology sensors and solutions.
India's advancement in nanotechnology
The establishment of national facilities and core groups to advance research in cutting-edge fields of science and technology, such as superconductivity, robotics, neurosciences, carbon and nano materials, was first mentioned in the 9th Five-Year Plan (1998-2002).
However, the focus changed once the Department of Science and Technology introduced its "Programme on Nanomaterials: Science and Devices" in 2000. (DST).
The DST established an Expert Group on "Nanomaterials: Science and Devices" in 2001–2002. After considering the advancements in nanotechnology, the government determined that the 10th Five Year Plan (2002-07) needed to launch a Nanomaterials Science and Technology Mission (NSTM).
The National Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NSTI) was subsequently established in October 2001 under the direction of the Ministry of Science's Department of Science and Technology. The NSTI was established in 2001 with the goals of developing research infrastructure and advancing fundamental studies in nanoscience and nanotechnology.
As a result, the DST created the Nano Mission on May 3, 2007, with the goal of fostering, promoting, and developing all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology that have the potential to be advantageous to the nation. Under the leadership of Prof. CNR Rao, the Nano Mission Council (NMC) directs the Mission.
The following are the main goals of the nano-mission:
Building Infrastructure for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Researc
Public-private partnerships and centres for the development of nanotechnology
Development of Human Resources
Under these programmes, ties between academia and industry will be fostered
The government approved the continuation of the Mission on Nano Science and Technology (Nano Mission) in its Phase-II at a total expenditure of Rs. 650 crore in the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-2017).
Center for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET) has been developed by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITy) in Pune, Hyderabad, and Trissur. These facilities are engaged in research and development (R&D) in nanotechnology, notably in nanomaterials.
There may be a risk associated with nanotechnology to the environment, human health, and other safety concerns. The potential hazards are debatable because this discipline is still in its infancy.
The study of nanomaterials' possible health concerns is known as nanotoxicology. Due to their small size, nanomaterials are easily absorbed by the human body. However, further investigation is required to determine how it would operate inside an organism. Before introducing nanoparticles to the market, their behaviour depending on their size, shape, and surface reactivity must be carefully examined.
Due to their small size, unique characteristics, and interactions, nanowastes may pose a problem. Living things might not be able to deal with man-made nanoparticles because they are not produced naturally.
Humanity has a promising future thanks to nanotechnology. However, there is still a lot to learn about its dangers and effects. The government needs to spend more money on fundamental research to understand this field before engaging in the promotion and launch of this new technology.