Nano-scale science, engineering and technology are fields of research in which manipulations of matter occur at the atomic, molecular and supramolecular level, in order to obtain materials and systems with characteristics significantly improved.

To have a dimensional idea, think that 10 nanometers correspond to one thousandth of the diameter of a human hair.

Nano Technologies, strategic consulting

The characteristics of nanostructures,especially at the electronic and magnetic level, are often significantly different from those of the same material at the mass level.

Nanostructures can be defined as a unique state of matter, particularly promising for new and hugely useful products.

For this reason, nanostructures have become a topic of transdisciplinary research, from electronics to chemistry, from matter physics to material sciences, through to molecular biology.

The ability to integrate organic and inorganic nanostructures is the premise for a new generation of advanced compounds.

There are many fields of application of nanotechnology,from industrial materials to military technology (dual-use technology) through the medical-health and pharmaceuticalfields.

The impact of nanotechnology is momentous in the industrial segment, from textiles to construction, from manufacturing to aerospace, from entertainment to anti-injury, there are no industrial sectors that have not been touched and revolutionized by nanotechnology.

In the world of consumer goods, there are many goods already marketed that incorporate
nanomaterials
and nanoparticles,products with unique characteristics ranging from resistance to shocks and scratches to ease of cleaning.

Bumpers in vehicles made extremely light and resistant, clothing fabrics with anti-stain repellent properties, more radiation-resistant sunscreens, stronger synthetic bones, the list of applications already used in everyday life it’s huge.

 

Medical and health applications

The nanomedicine in particular, has been defined by the European Science Foundation as “the science and technology of the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of traumatic diseases and injuries, algology (pain mitigation), preservation and improvement of human health, through the use of molecular tools and molecular knowledge of the human body.”

The five subdisciplines of nanomedicine are: nanomaterials and equipment, nanoimaging and analytical tools, novel therapeutics and drug delivery systems, toxicology clinical application.

Nanotechnology is at a level where the boundary between organic and non-organic blurs, at the convergence of biological and physical.

The separation between
Life Sciences
and other physical sciences becomes uncertain, a truly unique and identifying characteristic of what is commonly referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

 

Agri-food applications

One of the most critical areas of application of nanotechnology is undoubtedly the agri-foodindustry.

Agriculture provides food for humans both directly and indirectly, but due to the worrying global population growth trend and the related problem of food security,it will be necessary to use the modern nanotechnology and
biotechnology
in agricultural sciences.

There are a number of applications in all stages of production, processing, storage, packaging and transport of agricultural products: nanotechnology is revolutionising agriculture and the food industry by means of precision agriculture,improved plant nutrient absorption capacity, more efficient and targeted use of inputs, detection and control of pathologies and parasites, resistance to pressures (water stress, saline stress, thermal stress, etc.), advanced storage and packaging processing systems and much more.

The efficiency of plant protection and veterinary products in livestock increases significantly through the use of nanoparticles in animal sciences.

For example, silver and iron nanoparticles are used in the treatment and disinfection of livestock and poultry.

Environmental pollution levels can also be monitored efficiently and effectively via “smartdust”-based“smartdust” nanosensors.

Based on current growth trends, the number of products and workers linked to the nanotechnology segment doubles every two years, with a forecast of around USD 3 trillion in turnover and 6,000,000 jobs by 2020.

As already mentioned, nanotechnology does not only have exclusive application in the agri-food world and it should be stressed that – to date – the environmental and human health risks to this phenomenon are still uncertain and more studies are needed.

The European Commission in 2013 finally proposed a possible revision of EU regulations to adapt them to the nanotechnology phenomenon,one of the regulations to be revised could be that on chemicals, REACH.

 

Environmental Applications

Nanotechnology plays an equally critical role in terms of environmental applications.

Since the development of Innovative manufacturing systems and replacement of existing plants and equipment, the creation of materials and chemicals with improved performance, the aim is to allow less energy and materials consumption and Reduction
damage to the environment,
as well as environmental remediation via the c.d
nanoremediation
.

The environmental applications of nanotechnology address the development of solutions to current environmental problems, preventive measures for future problems arising from energy and material interactions with theenvironment and any possible risk that could be posed by the nanotechnology itself.

 

Energy, New Energy

Theenergy

segment has also undergone a total revolution following the introduction of nanotechnology.

Improving the use of traditional energy sources (e.g. structured nanomaterials used as catalysts for fossil fuel production and refining processes) and even more efficient energy sources alternatives (renewables in the first place) is one of the key factors in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nanotechnology is the essential element in this path of change, through the application of top-down and bottom-up design in the implementation of energy conversion systems.

Energy production is actually a set of chemical and physical processes, aimed at enabling the conversion of energy (e.g. light in to solar and kinetics in wind) into electricity.

We are therefore talking about energy conversion devices (generation systems and storage systems) such as with batteries, where theElectricity is converted into potential energy, then accumulated in the chemical bonds that form in the battery charge, finally released as electrical energy to use.

For the improvement of theenergy efficiency the contribution of nanostructured materials is critical, allowing to offer new useful properties in various processes, from production to energy distribution (e.g. carbon nanotubes) to reduced consumption, moving on from the current system centralized energy production (large amounts of energy in a few selected places) at the production and localized management.

 

ICT and Nanoelectronics Applications

Another key segment of nanotechnology applications is nanoelectronics,the true driving force of nanosciences,aimed at miniaturizing information and information devices. Communication Technology.

To date, the areas of greatest application of nanoelectronics are those of sensors, memory devices and semiconductors.

Nanoelectronics is considered a” disruptive” technology, as it is extremely different and innovative compared to traditional transistors models.

For this reason, nanoelectronics and microelectronics have been included in the European list ofKey Enabling Technologies (GTs), i.e. Enabling Technologies,which is critical to the economic and industrial development, employment growth and social progress towards a sustainable and green economic model.

 

Nanomaterials

Finally, there is another fascinating branch of nanotechnology,that of nanomaterials,one-, two and three dimensions.

In fact, the supply chain nanomaterials is across all application areas of nanotechnology, fromhealthcare to cosmetics through electronics and aerospace, the physical-chemical properties of nanomaterials are unique and for this very reason they require a assessment of the risk to prevent its impacts on workers, consumers and the environment.

 

The assessment is currently conducted on a case-by-case basis, but since 2012, the Expert Group on Nanomaterials (ECHA-NMEG) has been set up at EU level, working through the operational support of the relevant
nanomaterial institutions. REACH
, CLP and biocides.

While qualifying as an informal advisory group, it supports the implementation of the European Chemicals Agency’s 2016-2018 Nanomaterials Work Plan and is an advisory body on technical/scientific issues related to REACH, CLP and biocides in nanomaterials.

We have dedicated a special section of the site to the regulatory framework of nanomaterials that can be consulted at this link.