Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nanomachines? Nanorobots?

I decided to revisit my earlier research on nanotechnology in medicines and learn about what "Nanomachine" is, and see how different it is from my perception and what future possibility it has.


When I heard a word "Nanomachine" or "Nanorobot" for the first time, of course some sort of imagery that an entertainment design student would make, or something that looks similar to the Antman came up. However, actual nanomachines that are on development process, looked little different, although they have that mechanical components.

Unfortunately from what I found, there has been no nanorobots that work or look as normal people like me think. However, It definitely has possibilities to emerge in the future and serve many purposes.

The closest actual "Nanomachine" that exist right now is a group of molecules called nanoporphyrin, which moves using hydrophilic and hydrophobic characteristics of it. It is used in medical diagnosis such as finding cancer tumors. Nanoporphyrin's small size gives it an intrinsic advantage as it can be engulfed by and accumulate in , where it can act on two levels:
  1. On the molecule level, nanoporphyrin can aid diagnosis by enhancing the contrast of  in  (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and dual modal PET-MRI. 
  2. on the micelle level, nanoporphyrin can be loaded with anti-tumour drugs to kill malignant tissue. When activated, for example, it can generate heat to "cook" the tumour tissue, and release lethal reactive oxygen species (ROS) at tumour sites.

Reference Articles:
"New Cancer-hunting 'nano-robots' to Seek and Destroy Tumours." New Cancer-hunting 'nano-robots' to Seek and Destroy Tumours. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

"KurzweilAI | Accelerating Intelligence." KurzweilAI Lipid DNA Origami May Lead to Advanced Future Nanomachines Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

"How Nanorobots Will Work." HowStuffWorks. N.p., 11 Oct. 2007. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

"Reversible Swarming and Separation of Self-Propelled Chemically Powered Nanomotors under Acoustic Fields." - Journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS Publications). N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

Nanotechnology + Biomimicry

 While doing a research about artificial photosynthesis, I was able to find a lot more examples about how nanotechnology can duplicate abilities of creatures that are believed to be achieved only in bio-organisms. By building up molecular structures of various organisms, nanotechnology can artificially recreate many useful abilities that natural creatures have.

 One example is creating anti bacterial surface by mimicking shark's skin.
Sharks can live in the ocean without having problematic algae and bacteria on them by having rough skin surface that can deflect accumulation of biofilm. Scientists were able to reproduce the nano-scale patterns on the sharks skin so that the surface could be used in industries such as pipelines, submarines and other submerged infrastructures and technologies. Also, a company called Sharklet Technologies Inc. has implemented this nano pattern onto railings and door handles in airports and hospitals to reduce bacterial colonization.

1 - shark skin

 Another example is to make water-repellent surface using the lotus plants' texture. The plants' leaves are superhydrophobic by having systematically arranged, water repellent and nano-sized wax crystals on the surface. This structure makes the lotus leaf extremely non-wettable, and the property regenerated by nanotechnology allows human beings to make walls of houses that repel dirt and grimes and easy to clean.

The lotus plant (Nelumbo nucifera) 

 Furthermore, the nanotechnology is used to create new material by mimicking the molecular structure found in seashells and pearls, University of Michigan scientists made a new type of plastic that’s stronger than steel but lighter and even transparent. They’re calling it plastic steel. A robotic machine dips a glass into a glue like polymer solution and then into a liquid that was a dispersion of clay nano sheets. 300 sheets like this create material as thick as a single sheet of plastic wrap. The practical uses for a light super strong material like this are huge. This plastic steel can be manufactured and used to create stronger and lighter armor for soldiers and the police. It may also have applications in biomedical sensors and valves.

Reference articles :

"Nature's Nanotechnology, Bio-mimicry, and Making the Superpowers of Your Dreams a Reality." Sustainable Nano. N.p., 03 Dec. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Nanotechnology." Nanotechnology. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Seashell Strength Inspires Stress Tests." Seashell Strength Inspires Stress Tests. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Sharks Have Tough Skin Worthy of Biomimicry." Guardian Liberty Voice. N.p., 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

Artificial Photosynthesis achieved with Nanotechnology

 The way of plants getting an energy from a sunlight and water has been always interesting to me, and scientists and industries also have been trying to simulate photosynthesis artificially. Reading articles about nanotechnology enabling scientists to divide water into hydrogen and oxygen was interesting to me because that could be the breakthrough to resolve limitations that current solar energy utilization has.

 Normally, photosynthesis happens in a microorganism that has light absorbing pigments called chlorophyll A and B, and the organism strips electrons from carbon dioxide and water to create sugar and oxygen.

 There has been multiple attempts to achieve artificial photosynthesis by borrowing components of plants that serve as photosynthesizing parts. However, a recent research performed by Angela Belcher and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests a new way of artificial photosynthesis using nanotechnology, which is recreating a new system that borrows only a method that plants photosynthesize, not an actual part of the plant. Also, a team of researchers from the UC Berkeley has created a system of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria that mimics the natural photosynthetic process, which can be a revolutionary technology to produce fuels in more sustainable and renewable way.

The artificial photosynthesis system has four general components: (i) harvesting solar energy; (ii) generating reducing equivalents; (iii) reducing carbon dioxide to biosynthetic intermediates, and (iv) producing value-added chemicals.

This new way of making a nanoscale components could become a huge development for alternative energy source since the scientists can duplicate, expand and customize to improve capacity and efficiency of artificial photosynthesis. Also, it amazed me how nanotechnology can achieve complicated microorganisms by building molecules up. 

Reference articles :

"Scientists Create Artificial Photosynthesis System." Breaking Science News. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

Johnson, Dexter. "Artificial Photosynthesis Achieved with Nanotechnology." - IEEE Spectrum. N.p., 12 Apr. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

Vidyasagar, By Aparna. "What Is Photosynthesis?" LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 31 July 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

"Stacking Semiconductors for Artificial Photosynthesis." Stacking Semiconductors for Artificial Photosynthesis. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

"Major Advance in Artificial Photosynthesis Poses Win/Win for the Environment." News Center. N.p., 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Nanotechnology in Automotive industry ll : Supercapacitor Panel

QUT sees cars powered by their body panels a reality within five years (Photo: Shutterstock)

Electric car industry is one of the fields that are being developed most rapidly and getting attention among people. These days, companies are trying to get rid of unnecessary weight in electric cars to compensate weight of the battery in the car, which is extremely big and heavy. What if the future electric cars could have batteries integrated in their body panels and chassis? The article about supercapacitor panel briefly shows how this idea could work thanks to nanomaterials made of thin and strong carbon fiber.

According to the article, the supercapacitors that are made of electrolyte and two carbon electrodes can cut the weight of electric cars, give better acceleration and charging time. These phenomenal improvements are possible due to supercapacitor's high power density and ability to become body panels of the car.

This article gave me an inspiration about another improvement in electric car using nanotechnology; what if car body panel could be a sandwich of supercapacitor and self-charging layer that works similar to plants' photosynthesis? I think there is definitely a potential for this using biomimicry and nanotechnology.

Reference articles :
"Graphene-Based Supercapacitors Could Lead To Battery-Free Electric Cars Within 5 Years." IFLScience. N.p., 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
Person, and David Szondy. "New Tech Could Allow Electric Cars' Body Panels to Store Energy." New Tech Could Allow Electric Cars' Body Panels to Store Energy. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Breakthrough for Electric Cars: Supercapacitors from Miracle Substance Graphene Charges Batteries in 4 Minutes." International Business Times RSS. N.p., 25 May 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Supercapacitor Panel-powered Electric Vehicles within 5 Years Could Become Affordable." Supercapacitor Panel-powered Electric Vehicles within 5 Years Could Become Affordable. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Nanotechnology in Automotive industries.

It is quiet obvious nowadays that nanotechnology and automotive industries are already inseparable in many aspects. Cars already come out on the market with numerous parts and technologies that involves nanotechnology such as paint, engine, windshields, and etc. These days, nanotechnology takes an important role in reducing weight of vehicles and preventing corrosion and promote lubrication of engine components. Even whenever I go to auto parts store, there are so many products with advertisement copy that says the products are made with latest nanotechnology. Among all those, the feature that captured my attention the most was using nanotechnology in surface coating.

Almost every car owner wants their car's paint to last shiny and clean forever, and according to a research conducted by Future Markets Inc., the market for nanotechnology in automotive paints and coatings is quiet substantial;"The overall world automotive paints and coatings market was estimated to be $7.75billion in 2010 and nanomaterials will play a key role in future growth..."

This is one example that shows how nanoparticles coat the surface yet maintains original texture of the material. By covering whole surfaces of the material without leaving any empty space between the coat and material, the paint does not crack due to the bend or scratches.

Another interesting example is self healing paint and film:

By using self assembling characteristic of nanoparticles, scratched surfaces can easily be fixed.
This gives me an interesting idea of making even more car parts using this technology so that the body or chassis itself could reassemble itself by using heat or electricity.

references :

"The Global Market for Nanocoatings in the Automotive Industry: Market Size, Applications, Nanomaterials and Companies." Future Markets, Inc, n.d. Web.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 2 : Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology in medicines

When I first heard about nanotechnology, the most interesting thing that captured my attention was its potential in medical uses. At that time I thought the illustration of the application was a bit cheesy; thousands or millions of nanobots fighting evil-looking germs in human body, however, after reading an article about nanotechnology in medicine application, I realized that the illustration was pretty close to actual application, or even more awesome.

One of the applications currently being developed is associated with nanoparticles that can deliver drugs to specific cells, and researchers say it can help cancer patients by delivering chemotheraphy drugs more accurately and directly, and also the technology can be an effective way of defeating viruses and treating brain injuries. Furthermore, cell repairing nanorobots that can be programmed and function in a similar way to antibodies in our natural healing processes are going to be used in a near future, according to Bachelet, previously of Harvard's Wyss Institute and faculty member at Israel's Bar-llan University.

-Nanobots that are being developed by Wyss Institute-

The most fascinating aspect about the use of nanotechnology in medicine for me was not only about its effectiveness but also the possibility of reducing the cost medical treatment. Right now I can only imagine people simply going into a pharmacy and buying a pill that has nanobots inside to cure cancer or HIV, but I am still excited to see where the current developments' progress is and how close it is to make my imagination become a reality.

Works cited

Dorrier, Jason. "Can DNA Nanobots Successfully Treat Cancer Patients? First Human Trial Soon - Singularity HUB." Singularity HUB. N.p., 08 Jan. 2015. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

"Nanotechnology in Medicine - Nanomedicine." Nanotechnology in Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.