When scientists began to discus the potential of a new technology called nanotechnology, it only raised opposition, dismissing it to be nothing more than an eccentric concept . The term 'Nanotechnology' refers to the construction of extremely small machines from nanometer size units that are about 10-9 meter or one billionth of a meter.
Today, after it has been proved that such a technological feat is indeed possible, numerous government organizations and multinational companies are now willing to invest a huge amount for developing the same.
With our ever increasing knowledge of nanoscience and the ability to engineer new products and services, it would not be far before the entire history can be compressed inside our pockets or the life system extended by specially designed molecules that mimic the living systems.
British Scientists are now involved in the development of next generation nano-scale X-ray machines, that would allow doctors to tract the movement of specific molecules such as bacteria and virus.
The development of a portable device to monitor the movement of specific molecules in the human body is likely to be materialized in the next 10 years or so. It has been known form previous studies that a disease called as Creutzfeld-Jakob disease is caused by faulty proteins, called prions that spread rapidly in the brain. Such malformed proteins are very difficult to destroy. Nanotechnology offers endless hope in the investigation of such disorders and the development of specific products/ therapeutic agents with remarkable properties.
Professor Jeremy Baumberg, a leading academic in the NanoPhotonics Centre at the Southampton University deserves special mention for his work in the field. He has been awarded the most prestigious fellowship conferred by the Optical Society of America, a premier institution that promotes research in the field of optics and photonics.
The work of Baumberg and numerous other researchers is directed at the production of devices that exploit the potential of light, in the most smallest, efficient and fastest way. The extreme sensitivity of these devices make it ideal for detection of contaminants in water resources, identification of biohazards and screen biomolecules by tracer systems.
The development of nanostructure incorporated iridescent plastic films that change color when stretched is yet another focus of nanotechnology research. The systematic study, manipulation and modification of these nanometer size particles however require complex instrumentation.
Speaking about the potential of photonics, Nikolay Zheludev, Professor, Southampton University said, 'NanoPhotonics promises captivating new fundamental physics and new mind blowing applications in low power, ultra-small devices performing at the quantum edge in a wide range of technologies from information processing, to defence, security, medicine and biotechnologies. Our broad goals are to develop concepts of optical functionality on the smallest possible size scale, at the lowest possible energy level, and on the shortest possible time scale'.
With parallel advancements taking place in the field of science and technology and the implementation of novel theoretical ideas to practice, the development of personalized medicine is very likely. After all, medical diagnosis could be even made as simple as carrying a nanotechnology medical device in one's pocket.
This is perhaps the most beautiful time in human history; it is really pregnant with all kinds of creative possibilities made possible by science and technology which now constitute the slave of man - if man is not enslaved by it. - Jonas Salk