October 21, 2017

A Vision of Nanoscience: Pt 2 – Health & Life

Catch up with the first part of this article, A vision of nanoscience: pt1 – production


Nanoscience is a horizontal-integrating interdisciplinary science that cuts across all sciences and engineering disciplines. Nanoscience integrates many facets of science such as colloidal chemistry, solid state physics, electronics, engineering, structural biology, cell and molecular biology and surface science. In our current generation, nanoscience has enormous applications to the development of our nation.

Health

In the field of medicine, living systems are governed by molecular behaviour at the nanometre scale, where chemistry, physics, biology, and computing all now converge. Recent insights into the uses of nanofabricated devices and systems suggest that today’s laborious process of genome sequencing can be made dramatically more efficient through the use of nanofabricated surfaces and devices. Expanding our ability to characterize an individual’s genetic makeup will revolutionize diagnostics and therapeutics.

Beyond facilitating optimal drug usage, nanotechnology can provide new formulations and routes for drug delivery, enormously broadening the drugs’ therapeutic potential. Nanotechnology can also be applied to markedly benefit basic studies of cell biology and pathology. It is becoming increasingly possible to characterize the chemical and mechanical properties of cells (including processes such as cell division and locomotion) and to measure properties of single molecules. These capabilities complement (and largely supplant) the ensemble average techniques presently used in the life sciences. Moreover, biocompatible, high-performance materials will result from the ability to control their nanostructure. Artificial inorganic and organic nanoscale materials can be introduced into cells to play roles in diagnostics (e.g., quantum dots in visualization), but also potentially as active components.

nano tech drug dleiveryFinally, nanotechnology enabled increases in computational power, will permit the characterization of macromolecular networks in realistic environments. Such simulations will be essential for developing biocompatible implants and for studying the drug discovery process.  The recently discovered Legonmycine A and B by Dr. Kweku Kyeremeh at the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana are microbial and cancer fighting agents that will aid massively in the fight to curtail and curb the cancer disease in Ghana. Nanoscience can also be applied here through a computer based system, created algorithm that will control the nanoparticles which will be injected into the cancer patient. Based on the instruction the nanoparticle willl adhere to these Legonmycins which will be directed towards specified region of the tumour and curtail its growth.

This ‘Nanotherapy’ can be possible because nanoparticles have a high surface area to volume ratio. This allows for many functional groups to be attached to a nanoparticle, which can seek out and bind to certain tumour cells. Additionally, the small size of nanoparticles (10 to 100 nanometers), allows them to preferentially accumulate at tumour sites (because tumours lack an effective lymphatic drainage system). Limitations to conventional cancer chemotherapy include drug resistance, lack of selectivity, and lack of solubility can all be overcome.

WATER

Global population is increasing while fresh water supplies are decreasing. The United Nations predicts that by the year 2025 that 48 countries will be short of fresh water accounting for 32% of the world’s population. Nanoscience will be effective in the areas of water purification and desalinization.

Nanoparticles can be used to clean industrial water pollutants in ground water through chemical reactions that render them harmless, at much lower cost than methods that require pumping the water out of the ground for treatment. This will make it possible to provide water for certain deprived areas of the country and also bridge the gap in the availability. Nanotechnology-based devices for water desalinization can be designed for desalination of sea water using at least 10 times less energy than state-of–the art reverse osmosis and at least 100 times less energy than distillation.  This energy-efficient process is possible by fabricating of very high surface area electrodes that are electrically conductive using aligned carbon nanotubes, and by other innovations in the system design.

nanotech water purification

COMPUTING AND IT

Nanoscience can be applied to create transistors that are faster, more powerful, and increasingly energy-efficient, with the prospect that our computer’s entire memory in the future will be stored on a single tiny chip. We can also create a Magnetic random access memory (MRAM) enabled by nanometer‐scale magnetic tunnel junctions that can quickly and effectively save even encrypted data during a system shutdown or crash, enable resume‐play features, and gather vehicle accident data. Nano science can also be incorporated in the production of displays for many new TVs, laptop computers, cell phones, digital cameras to create nanostructured polymer films known as organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, which will offer brighter images in a flat format, as well as wider viewing angles, lighter weight, better picture density, lower power consumption, and longer lifetimes.

OLED

Finally, nanoscienec can also be applied in other computing and electronic products such as flash memory chips for iPod nanos; ultraresponsive hearing aids; antimicrobial/antibacterial coatings on mouse/keyboard/cell phone casings; conductive inks for printed electronics for RFID/smart cards/smart packaging; more life-like video games; and flexible displays for e-book readers.

 TRANSPORT

In transportation, we can have a bit of variation in the creation and the building of our road and other structures. Nanoscience can be applied in Nano-engineering of steel, concrete, asphalt, and other cementitious materials, and their recycled forms. Nanoscience offers great promise in terms of improving the performance, resiliency, and longevity of highway and transportation infrastructure components while reducing their cost. New systems may incorporate innovative capabilities into traditional infrastructure materials, such as the ability to generate or transmit energy. Also we can talk about, applying Nano science to nanoscale sensors and devices which will provide continuous structural monitoring of the condition and performance of bridges, tunnels, rails, parking structures, and pavements over time. Nanoscale sensors and devices may also support an enhanced transportation infrastructure that can communicate with vehicle-based systems to help drivers maintain lane position, avoid collisions, adjust travel routes to circumnavigate congestion, and other such activities.

I like to say how beautiful and amazing all the ideas that have been enunciated above will be if they are really made practical. Nanaoscienc and its application is not something that we have to see too eccentric to ever happen in our country. When you look at the statistics from other developed countries, they study the same science we are also studying in Ghana, but they believe in what they are studying so they invest large sums of money into their research. And astoundingly, it pays of bountifully for them. But that is not the same for mother Ghana. Science and Technology is indispensable for development. There is no two ways or debating about this particular assertion. Science has always been the panacea, though we have failed to give it the green light in most cases.  So in ending, I will say that, I believe the revolution is on, science education in Ghana is taking on a new leap and this leap I believe will take us to greater heights. With all the stated applications of Nano science and the credibility that, all that I have expounded in this essay are viable in our development as a nation, we can smile and look at a new Ghana, were science will be the mainstay for development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

[1] Binns, Chris. Introduction to Nanoscience and Nano Technology. Hoboken New Jersey USA: JohnWiley & Sons, Inc, (2010).

[2] Royal society of Chemistry. Nano and material science. Thomas Graham House

Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WF, UK: RSC publishing, (2014).

[3] Nouailhat, Alain. An introduction to Nanoscience and nanotechnology. Hoboken New Jersey USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, (2008).

[4] Wolf, L. Edward. Nanophysics and nanotechnology, An introduction to Morden concept in Nano Science. Federal Republic of Germany: WILEY – VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, (2004).

[5] Filipponi, Luisa and Duncan Sutherland. Nanotechnologies: Principles, Applications, Implications and Hands-on Activities. Luxembourg, Germany: The Publication’s Office of the European Union, (2012).