Biomedical Nanotechnology- A New Technology or Just a New name


This article is written by S. Vidhya. She is pursuing her PhD in Biomedical Devices and Technology from IIT Madras, CMC Vellore and SCTIMST Trivandrum. She specializes in the field of nanotechnology. There will be a series of articles coming from her side. This is just a beginning of new story with

So folks enjoy reading….

Nanotechnology– a new technology or just a new name. The hype created by this term, caused ripples through every branch of science and technology. Be that of physics or medicine, chemistry or chemical engineering, biology or in Biomedical engineering which by itself is considered to be a young engineering branch. Even the king of sciences, mathematics can’t be said to be totally unaffected by it. Nanotechnology can be said either to be the youngest or the oldest branch around. Present in every field of expertise, after the coining of a term to depict this technology, it has become a field of attraction to every scientist.


In 1959, Richard Feynman, at an after dinner talk describes molecular machines building with atomic precision, well at the least it proves that nothing can be done in empty stomach. 1974, the term nanotechnology is coined by our favorite technologists, Japanese. In 1977, concepts of molecular nanotechnology are introduced and after that there has been no looking back. These are the infant steps of the technology that has become increasingly reputed in such a short period of time. From 1974, when the term nanotechnology was first coined and now in 2012, where scientists and engineers of every field have introduced something nano in their area of expertise, the growth has been dramatic.

For someone new, question arises what is nanotechnology. The optimal answer, any technology related to materials in the range of 1-100 nanometer(nm) is called nanotechnology. Well if it’s only the size then why such a commotion. The real commotion here is not only about its small size, it’s more about the beautiful mechanisms that the materials exhibit in this much small state. The laws of quantum mechanics and other sciences which took years to be formulated, modified and accepted do not apply here. “Small is beautiful”, the most common statement related to nanotechnology, says a lot about it and the best thing, it doesn’t follow any set of rules that are in place.

New R&D focus on using nanotechnology for chemical/biological/radioactive/explosive detection and protection. Applicable to various fields, we are here to discuss only how it relates to Biomedical engineering. In the field of Biomedical engineering, Nanotechnology is now only starting to make its presence felt. Various institutes are interested in the development of biomolecular sensors that can be implanted in the body to monitor and manipulate molecular processes and are working to achieve that. Nanotechnology provides applications as drug delivery vehicles, nano drugs, lab-on-a-chip diagnostic techniques, longer-lasting medical implants, capability to map an individual’s entire genetic code almost instantaneously, areas of investigation also include single-molecule detection and manipulation. We are familiar with radiotherapy, consider a device that can detect a single cell and allow us to treat it individually without any fuss of radiation hazards, effectively treating cancer. Though not invented yet, won’t it be awesome if something like that can be developed.

This is just an introduction of what collaboration between these two fields can achieve. It can be said that when it comes to biomedical nanotechnology both the individual fields are growing with each other though not as fast as a biomedical nanotechnologist like me would want it to. Though nanotechnology provides various insights in biomedical arena and lots of opportunities to tap into, it brings with itself some unknown factors too. As a biomedical engineer, the foremost concern is always about the patients well being. Introducing an unknown factor into human body even after the proper testing is too dangerous and that’s what slows down the development of biomedical nanotechnology. Though work is still going on and is soon expected to be accepted.

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