Nanotechnology attempted to show the potential of this new technology and included the wide range of fields that are connected to the concept of the nanometer scale. These include machining, imaging, metrology or measurement, micromachines, instrumentation and machine tools, scanning probe microscopy, fabrication of components, nanoelectronics, molecular engineering, among others. (Journal Review: Nanotechnology)
Another important step in the development of this technology in both a practical and theoretical sense was the development of " bottoms up" programs and research initiatives. As noted above, the 'bottoms up' approach is considered to be the area where the greatest potential for nanotechnology applications exist. In 1991 Japan's Science and Technology Agency began instituted a "bottom-up" approach, in which "...very small structures are built up from molecular components using, for example, scanning probe microscopes. "(Nanotechnology Race: MITI Adopts 'Bottom-Up' Strategy_)
Since the 1990s there have been an increasing number of developments that have contributed to the advance and acceptance of this new technology. For example, an important step in the development of this technology was the discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1991 by Sumio Iijima. Carbon naotubes are described in technical terms as follows:
single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) can be considered to be formed by the rolling of a single layer of graphite (called a graphene layer) into a seamless cylinder. A multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) can similarly be considered to be a coaxial assembly of cylinders of SWCNTs, like a Russian doll, one within another; the separation between tubes is about equal to that between the layers in natural graphite. Hence, nanotubes are one-dimensional objects with a well-defined direction along the nanotube axis that is analogous to the in-plane directions of graphite.
Nanotubes and Buckyballs)
In more practical terms this mean that nanotubes have the potential to become one of the most important materials in this new and exciting technology due to the fact that "...it has been calculated that nanotube-based material has the potential to become 50-100 times stronger than steel at one sixth of the weight." (Research, Development and Market Applications for Nanomaterials and Carbon Nanotubes) There are many possible applications for this material, which includes space and aircraft manufacture and automobiles and construction. (Research, Development and Market Applications for Nanomaterials and Carbon Nanotubes).
An extremely important development in the more recent history of nanotechnology is the interaction and the symbiosis between this technology and computer and information technology. Important in this regard is NASA's investigation of the possibilities that existed in computational nanotechnology in 1996. NASA's
Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation Systems Division began leading in this area of research. It was envisaged that, "Some forms of nanotechnology appear to have enormous potential to improve aerospace and computer systems. Computational nanotechnology -- the design and simulation of programmable molecular machines -- is crucial to progress." (NASA Unit Putting Major Resources into Computational Nanotechnology)
The following are some of the important date and events that contributed to the present prominence of nanotechnology.
1998 the f irst DNA-based nanomechanical device. A DNA-based Nanomechanical Device was created by researcher at New York University. This was seen as the "...first step towards the development of nano-robots that might some day construct individual molecules in molecular-scale factories." (Nadrian Seeman's NYU Team Creates a DNA-based Nanomechanical Device)
First nanomedicine book published in 1999.
2000. President Clinton announces U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative. Clinton also emphasizes "the importance of expanding basic research in both the physical and biological sciences." (MARKOFF) the future possibilities of this technology are referred to. These include; "...developing ultralight materials that are 10 times as strong as steel; creating a new class of computer chip...doubling the efficiency of solar cells; using gene and drug-delivery technologies to detect and target cancerous cells..." (MARKOFF)
Other important events were; the first report on the nanotech industry in 2001; the first policy conference on advanced nanotech in 2004; the establishment of the first center for nanomechanical system in 2004 and a call for experimentation toward molecular manufacturing by the National Academies Nanotechnology Report in 2006. (a Short History of Nanotechnology)
2.3. Possibilities and potential
In order to understand the possibilities and potential that exist in nanotechnology, especially with regard to the way that nanotechnology and information technology interact and influence one another, it is important to understand various aspects and properties that occur at the nano level. As one pundit states; "At nanoscale dimensions the properties of materials no longer depend solely on composition and structure in the usual sense. Nanomaterials display new phenomena associated with quantized effects and with the preponderance of surfaces and interfaces." (Nanotechnology) in other words, nano material exhibits properties and characteristics that are not normally observed in the word of larger object and that these properties can only be described in terms of the science of quantum physics. For example,
When the size of structures is comparable to the quanta themselves, it influences how these excitations move through and interact in the material. Small structures may limit flow, create wave interference effects, and otherwise bring into play quantum mechanical selection rules not apparent at larger dimensions.
In other words, the field of nanotechnology opens new and extensive possibilities for the development of potentially useful applications that are not subject to the normal limitations of physics. This theoretical view has already had practical outcomes. For example, billions of microscopic "nanowhiskers," each about 10 nanometres in length, have been molecularly hooked onto natural and synthetic fibres to impart stain resistance to clothing and other fabrics; zinc oxide nanocrystals have been used to create invisible sunscreens that block ultraviolet light; and silver nanocrystals have been embedded in bandages to kill bacteria and prevent infection
Some of these outcomes as they relate to information technology will be discussed below.
2.3.2. Present application and future potential.
As have been referred to, many pundits see the future of this type of technology in bottom-up technology or molecular nanotechnology. To reiterate, this stresses the process whereby, ".... organic and inorganic structures are created atom by atom, molecule by molecule." (Dewick, Green, and Miozzo) at present nanotech research is focused on the development of material such as carbon nanotubes and quantum dots and concerned with the fabrication of various tools and instruments. (Dewick, Green, and Miozzo) This research is intended to have an effect on the field of informatics - which includes electronics, magnetics and optics. (Dewick, Green, and Miozzo)
There are enormous possibilities for this area of research. The manufacture of lighter and stronger material at a much lower cost to the environment is only one option that seems likely for the future. Allied to this is the development of, " Nanocoatings for both opaque and translucent surfaces may render them resistant to corrosion, scratches, and radiation." (Nanotechnology)
Of core interest in terms of the present discussion in the way that nanotechnology is seen to interface with and impact on information technology. This refers as well to nanoscale electronic, magnetic, and mechanical devices and systems, which have "...unprecedented levels of information processing." (Nanotechnology)
There are a host of other innovations and fabrications that are possible in the field of nanotechnology. For instance molecular-semiconductor hybrid devices that "...may become engines for the next revolution in the information age." (WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY?) One should also bear in mind the potential that his technology has in terms of health and the improvement of the quality of life. As one study indicates, nanotechnology is already providing solutions to existing medical problems, as well as social and environmental problems. (WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY
Today, the improved knowledge of how the body functions at the cellular, or 'nano', level is leading to many new and better medical techniques. For example, we know that the earlier a disease can be detected, the easier it is to remedy. To achieve this, research is focussing on introducing into the body specially designed nanoparticles, which are composed of tiny fluorescent 'quantum dots' that are 'bound' to targeting antibodies.
WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY
The development of techniques such as 'quantum dots' are extremely important in terms of new medical applications and solutions. It should also be remembered that these development also require computer and information technology input.
A nano technological discovery that should be noted at this point is terms of exploring the interface between nanotechnology and information technology, is the creation and potential of carbon nanotubes. This has been referred to as the."Miracle Material of the 21st Century? (WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY?) Nanotubes are"...highly conductive both to electricity and heat, with an electrical conductivity as high as copper, and a thermal conductivity as great as diamond." (WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY?) the significance of this invention is that they hold untold possibilities for the creation of nanoelectronic circuits and computers.
3. Information technology
3.1. Overview and background
It is common knowledge that advances and developments in the field of information technology in the 20th and 21st centuries have changed the way we live, communicate and interact.
Today, many of us make contacts on a global scale, and these interconnections will expand…