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Nanotechnology - Future uses

It is difficult to predict when exactly nanotechnology assemblers or assembly stations will be operational to make nanotechnology a worldwide commercial reality. However here are a few potential results of the use of nanotechnology:


  • The replication of anything including water and food completely eliminating famine and poverty because production costs of nearly all products - including food - will drop to near-zero.
  • In the information technology industry, the smallest size of transistors on silicon microprocessors is about to reach it's limit. Moore's Law predicts that by about 2015 we must be working at the molecular level to advance. Nanotechnology will enable the development of a new generation of smaller more powerful components. In fact one of the specific goals of the U.S. government's nanotechnology initiative is to develop a memory device approximately the size of a sugar cube capable of storing all the information in the U.S. national library. PCs with comparable speeds of current equipment will be the size of a grain of sand and will be capable of operating for decades on one small battery. So effectively nanotechnology will make computers disappear; they will be in our bodies, clothing, refrigerators, buildings, absolutely everywhere. As materials will be engineered on the molecular scale they will incorporate computation in the same way that certain materials have a specific colour. Within the next 25 years scientists will have reverse-engineered the physical processes in the human brain that result in thought, which will lead to biologically inspired computer software (artificial intelligence) enabling materials to "think" for themselves.
  • In the medical industry, medicines could contain nanorobots programmed to destroy the molecular structure of cancer cells and viruses. Nanorobots could be used by surgeons to change your physical appearance or perform operations without leaving a scar. It may even be possible that nanorobots could slow or reverse the aging process. Nanotechnology and biotechnology will be combined to create ingestable systems that will be able to tell medics the location of diseased cells and the type of disease. At some point disease and genetic defects will be eliminated through the alteration of the body at the atomic level, effectively re-coding your DNA.
  • Environmentally friendly airborne nanorobots could be programmed to rebuild the ozone layer atom by atom. Water sources could be purified saving millions of lives and oil spillages could be removed quickly and completely. The dependence on the Earth's natural resources for our energy would also be eliminated and pollution would be a thing of the past because pollutants can be reduced to their component atoms and recycled.
  • For the hearing impaired nanotechnology machines will use advanced speech recognition to create subtitles automatically and on the fly. Blind people will have reading machines that could be incorporated into clothing that would use advanced text recognition allowing the user to read signs, menus, displays etc. Smilar nanotechnology devices will also be used to translate text information from one language to another.
  • Virtual reality will become much more life-like, glasses will be able to display images directly onto our retinas and contact lenses will allow full-immersion virtual reality.
  • The house of the future will use nanotechnology to be able to change colour to whatever you decide and generate more electricity than it consumes. Read more about this future smart home here.
  • Aerospace and automotive materials will change substantially. Currently aluminium, nickel, and titanium alloys and carbon fibre composites are used but in the future materials made of lightweight, high-strength carbon nanotubes will be used. Carbon nanotubes are the world's strongest material in terms of tensile strength and they are lightweight and flexible. This will result in aircraft and cars being 100 times lighter and therefore would be much more fuel efficient. As the graphite (the carbon allotrope in the nanotubes) has a network of hexagonal rings it has many unpaired electrons. Therefore carbon nanotubes conduct electricity and heat amazingly well and are being considered for use as wires for nanosized electronic devices in future computers, charge-storage devices in batteries, and electron guns for semiconductor chip etching and flat-screen televisions and computer monitors. They also could store hydrogen gas to power fuel cells. Thus, there is intense interest in finding a way to produce nanotubes in large quantities.

The Nobel laureate Richard E. Smalley, in 1999 in his presentation to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Basic Research, stated "The impact of nanotechnology on health, wealth, and lives of people will be at least the equivalent of the combined influences of microelectronics, medical imaging, computer-aided engineering and man-made polymers developed in this century." This is likely to be an underestimate with every person or group on the planet to be profoundly affected by nanotechnology.

On the darker side, Admiral David E. Jeremiah, Vice-Chairman (ret.) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the second highest-ranking military officer in the United States, has said that "military applications of molecular manufacturing have even greater potential than nuclear weapons to radically change the balance of power." Which may explain why the same national laboratories which developed the atomic and hydrogen bombs are now working to develop nanotechnology.

Read more about possible negative nanotechnology futures >


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