Nanotechnology is a branch of science that seeks to understand and control matter at the molecular and atomic level (Edwards, 2006). Derived from the Greek word “nano” which means dwarf, it seeks to explore matter within the range of 1 and 100 nanometres.Nanotechnology is one of the most active of research covering fields such as, engineering, biomechanics, electronic, water and air purification, agriculture, space technology amongst others.
In the future, Nanotechnology holds the promise of providing breakthrough benefits in the field of medicine .
Currently; the technology is being used as a basis for a more effective drug delivery system. Also, ultra filtration, which is a branch of nanotechnology, is used for renal dialysis. Research is underway for the development of nerve regeneration, using nanotechnology. This is expected to be the long overdue breakthrough in the detection, diagnosis and treating various types of cancers (Taniguchi, 1974). In future, the technology is expected to form molecular structures that are similar to living systems which can be used for regeneration or replacement of diseased body parts. Currently, nanotechnology is used to deliver nanoparticles to specific type of cells such as cancer cells. The nanoparticles are engineered to attract diseased cells which allow direct treatment of those specific cells. The technology is well suited to biomedicine, diagnostic techniques, drugs, prosthesis and implants. It also allows for the earlier detection of diseases (Li, 2007).
The field of agriculture promises many breakthroughs in the future as evidenced by the ongoing research on the use of nanotechnology in agriculture. Future prospects indicate on the possibility of growing nanoparticles in fields. This “particle farming”, can be done using genetically engineered technology. Research has shown that plants can soak up nanoparticles which can be industrially harnessed. The United States department of agriculture (USDA) has come up with “smart fields” that are filled with “nanosensers” used to monitor the agricultural conditions and offer timely and pragmatic solutions (Li, 2007). The technology is being engineered to automatically detect any changes and apply fertilizer, water and pesticide on a timely basis
Nanotechnology offers a cheaper and more convenient way of water purification. Tiny particles of pure silica coated with an active material can be used to remove bacteria, toxic chemicals and other hazardous materials from water at a lower cost. The active particles called, Surface Engineered Silica (SES) has undergone various test and it has been noted to remove viruses like the polio virus, bacteria like Escherichia coli, and cryptosporidium which is a waterborne parasite. Nanofiltration, using nanoporous materials is currently being used for ions removal or the separation of different fluids. Magnetic nanoparticles are used for the removal of heavy metals in waste water (Hillie & Hlophe, 2007).
The current applications of nano technology seem to be very impressive, but it is the possibility of future prospects that offers a greater promise (Edwards, 2006). Nanotechnology offers possibilities of new discoveries and smart technologies. In the world of discovery, possibilities exist beyond our imagination. Nanotechnology has a bright future as a lot is yet to be discovered.