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Nanoparticles

What is Nano Science

Nano Science is the study of very small particles, even smaller than the common cold virus. This type of science enhances the ability to look at the properties of nanoparticles.

Measurements of “Nano’s”

The measurement of a nanometre is around 1 millionth of a millimetre. That is 0.000000001 metres. Now that is very small! Where a human hair has a width of 50,000 Nanometres, a water molecule (H2O) is 0.2 Nanometres.

Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology allowed us, humans, to achieve a vast majority of what would have been the impossible centuries ago. With the use of nanotechnology we were able to discover new ways of using organic compounds to their potentials. This allowed us to find the uses of small particles called nanoparticles.

Back in 1985, through nanotechnology, we found out that there was a new allotrope of Carbon (C60) in nature. The 60 indicate that there are 60 carbons forming a round object, more like the shape of a football. This allotrope is known to be called buckyball. There are many other types of carbon allotropes such as C70, C76 and C84.

Carbon Nanotubes

Nanotubes can be defined as pipelines made up of carbon hexagons, just like graphite, forming cylinders with a cap like end made up of a pentagon of carbon atoms.

Carbon nanotubes are all carbon allotropes and are part of the fullerene structure. This family indicates that many of the carbon nanotubes exist as buckyballs; spherical football like shape. Not all nanotubes are spherical in the buckyball shape.

A common nanotube is cylinder shape with at least one end capped by a hemisphere of a buckyball structure. The nanotubes are aligned together and held together by Van Der Waals forced.

These structures have many properties rendering them very useful materials. They can be used for nanoparticles, electronics, optics and lots of many useful fields in science including potential uses in architectural fields. Nanotubes possess extraordinary strength due to covalent bonding and also possess unique electrical properties. The electrical properties allow them to be used as semi-conductors or regular conductors. Nanotubes also possess heat-inhibiting properties thus making them efficient conductors of heat. These nanotubes are rarely used due to the toxicity.

Properties and uses of Nanoparticles

Nanoparticles have an unusually large surface area compared to their size and volume, giving them different properties and uses compared to materials that are larger and made from identical substances.

Silver in Medicine

Silver is widely used in jewellery and medicine for centuries and millenniums. It has been known to have both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial functions meaning it kills bacteria and fungus. This allows silver to be used on bandages or household plasters. Also people prefer to filter water through water filters that contain silver particles so chances of infections or diseases are decreased.

Before antibiotics, silver was applied in thin layers to cuts and wounds. This technique prevents infections thus increasing the process of healing. Antibiotics have the capability to kill bacteria. The problem with antibiotics is that the treatment can cause bacteria to mutate overtime causing the bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. To counteract this mutation, silver is being used as an alternative to prevent the bacterial infections.

Scientists are also using silver particles in drugs to treat cancer cells through nanoparticles. This is due to the nanoparticles being so small; it can penetrate through to the protein and DNA inside the cells of diseased tissues.

Chemistry


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