Have you ever heard of nanoscience? Whilst we are used to looking at the science of things we can see- the human body, the stars and the natural world- it can seem strange to try and understand the things we aren’t able to see without a high-powered microscope. This is what nanoscience is- looking at very very small things and how they behave.
The nanoscience scale
The nanoscale is 10 to the minus 9 meters. This means that if you are a nanoscientist, you are usually working with just a couple of atoms! For scale, our fingernails grow at around 1 nanometre per second, and a strand of DNA is around 2.5 nanometers in diameter.
Why does nanoscience matter?
If we are looking at things so small, they can’t possibly be relevant to us as humans- right? Well, things on the nanoscale work very differently to on our regular scale. In our environment, we have so many different reactions happening, but only a few on a nanoscale.
Because they work so differently, we have a whole new world of opportunities where we can use the nanoscale.
Where is nanoscience used?
Even if you cannot see it, nanoscience is being used all around us, and it is very likely you have a couple of items in your household that is made using nanoscience.
- We use nanoscience in medicine. It creates a form of chemotherapy where gold nanoparticles are sent to kill cancerous cells and keep healthy cells safe.
- We use nanoscience in engineering. TVs, phones, and laptops are made up of transistors that work on the quantum scale, which allows your tech to work so fast.
- Sunscreen. The white colour usually seen in sunscreen is titanium dioxide which is also in paint, now the colour is gone and it is still titanium dioxide but in nanoparticle form, because it loses its colour on the nanoscale!
- Beauty. Loreal was the first company to receive a patent for nanoparticle products in their skincare.
So, why dont we use nanoscience more?
Nanoscience is still very new, and in comparison to some branches of science that have been studied for centuries- nanoscience has only been studied for around 30 years. Because of this, there is still a lot to learn and we should approach nanoscience with caution.