Editorial Feature

The Public Perception of Nanotechnology Development Projects

Image Credits: Irina Devaeva/shutterstock.com

Nanotechnology research, specifically carbon-based nanotechnology (for example. fullerenes and carbon nanotubes), has seen many discoveries and developments, which led to peculiar yet serious projects, and thoughts on numerous applications.

NASA’s “the space elevator” is a popular and widely referenced project. It is a 62,000-mile twine of carbon nanotubes, which would carry cargo into orbit. High Lift Systems2 has been established in the United States based on studies within carbon nanotechnology plus the highly inspiring factor of being able to reach the moon in an easy and affordable way. The main goal was to develop such a space elevator.

Public Acceptance of the Space Elevator Project

However, it would take many years to build such a system, assuming if it is going to be developed at all. But such research is seen as critically significant by analysts like Brian Chase, vice president of the Space Foundation.

It’s impossible to make breakthroughs if all you’re funding is immediate, near-term applications,” he stated. This project has received wide public acceptance, since it is something that people can relate to, as they know an elevator, and are aware that it is possible to travel in space.

Expectation of Nanotechnology Projects

Projects like the space elevator can offer the general public a subtle introduction to nanotechnology advancements, and enable them to understand more about, for example, carbon nanotechnology. However, the negative perception is that such a project is many years away and is virtually impossible to realize. This gives the public a wrong impression of what to anticipate from nanotechnology in the coming days and, specifically, in the near future.

Development of Nano-Submarines

Nano-submarine is another field that has been widely accepted as a nanotechnology theme by the broad audience. This was originally launched in 1966 by the movie “Fantastic Voyage,” in which a surgical team is made small and administered into the blood of a dying man. Since then, the theme has remained etched in the public’s minds. Now, people can recall this movie whenever nanotechnology becomes more popular and other sci-fi individuals talk about tiny “robots” administered into the body.

Custom-Made Nanoparticles for Battling Cancer

Obviously, it is not possible to shrink people to the nano-size, but the fact is that tiny, customized nanoparticles may soon become a reality in the very near future. Such nanoparticles will be able to identify and may even destroy cancerous cells at an early stage. Such studies are being performed in several places in many different ways, from National Microelectronics Research Center in Cork, Ireland, to Rice University in the United States.

Miniature Devices that Serve as Tiny Mechanical Doctors

However, the term “nano-submarines” does not hold any real meaning with respect to what has been performed in actual studies. Vanishingly tiny machines like the ones visualized here might act as miniature mechanical doctors in the future.

Such tiny devices would travel between the red cells of the bloodstream, and detect and kill harmful viruses. The operating parts of these tiny machines would be constructed around gears that resemble the size of a protein molecule.

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