Nanotechnology, the science of engineering and manipulating matter at extremely small scales, has the potential to revolutionize various industries, including healthcare, electronics, textiles, energy, construction materials, and food. By creating materials, devices, and systems with unique and improved properties not found in naturally occurring materials, nanotechnology is becoming an increasingly important part of the global marketplace.
Medicine: Revolutionizing Healthcare
One of the most promising applications of nanotechnology is in the field of medicine. Nanotechnology companies, such as NanoMech, Nanosys, Nantero, Carbon nanoMaterials, Nanofiber Solutions, Nanogate, Nano-Tex, and Nanoxplore, are driving innovation and providing solutions in fields ranging from healthcare and agriculture to electronics and industrial manufacturing. For example, electronic tattoos, and soft sensor-equipped wearable devices that attach to a person’s skin, can measure biopotentials like muscle impulses, heart rate, and brain activity. These tattoos have the potential to reduce costs and improve outcomes for patients in healthcare settings.
Electronics: Advancing Technology with Nanomaterials
Nanotechnology has also found applications in the field of electronics. Researchers at EPFL’s School of Engineering have developed a new approach to electronics that could enable a new class of terahertz devices. By etching patterned contacts called meta structures at sub-wavelength distances onto a semiconductor made of gallium nitride and indium gallium nitride, the electrical fields inside the device can be controlled, yielding extraordinary properties that do not occur in nature. These meta devices can reach 20 THz and support over 20 volts, enabling the transmission and modulation of terahertz signals with much greater power and frequency than is currently possible.
Construction Materials: Enhancing Durability and Quality
Nanotechnology has potential applications in the architecture and production industry to improve the durability and quality of construction materials while lowering pollution. Nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles can improve the mechanical properties of materials like glass, concrete, and steel. Incorporating substances like carbon nanotubes and nano-silica can improve the physical properties of concrete structures such as strength, conductive properties, and durability. Nanostructures have the potential to repair damaged structural surfaces on their own, and nanosensors can aid in predicting problems in construction.
Medicine: CAR T Cell Therapy for Autoimmune Diseases
Another promising application of nanotechnology in medicine is the development of CAR T cell therapies. CAR T cells have shown promise in fighting blood cancers and are now being tested for autoimmune diseases like lupus. CAR T therapies involve genetically engineering a patient’s own T cells to target specific cell types. The first CAR T therapy, Kymriah, was developed by Penn Medicine and received FDA approval in 2017. Lupus is an autoimmune disease driven by B cells, making it a potential target for CAR T therapy. A small study in Germany showed promising results for CAR T therapy in lupus patients, with all patients going into remission and remaining in remission for up to a year.