Introduction to Chemical Nano-engineering


       Chemical Nano-engineering is one field of nanotechnology.  Nanotechnology is an umbrella term that encompasses all fields of science that operate on the nanoscale. Nano-engineering concerns itself with manipulating processes that occur on the scale of 1-100 nanometres. Chemical Nano-engineering is an interdisciplinary science that deals with different chemical synthesis methods; characterisation and builds biochemical structures smaller than bacterium, which function like microscopic factories. This is possible by utilizing basic biochemical processes at the atomic or molecular level. In simple terms, molecules interact through natural processes and nano-engineering takes advantage of those processes by direct manipulation.

       Nano-engineering teaches us the practice of engineering on the nanoscale, wherein the unique and enabling aspects of a nanoscale material or structure are used to create a device to be utilized by mankind.  Nano-engineering concerns itself with controlling matter on the molecular scale and manipulating processes that occur on the scale of nanometres.  There is a famous quote from Theodore von Karmam, the founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which helps to explain the difference between nanoscience and nano-engineering.

       The first nano-engineering program was started at the University of Toronto within the Engineering Science program as one of the options of study in the final years. In 2003, the Lund Institute of Technology started a program in nano-engineering. In 2004, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute was established on the campus of the University at Albany. This branch of engineering has continued to grow rapidly in many top Universities of the World. Finally in 2016 Rice University established Department of Materials Science and Nano-engineering (MSNE) for this purpose. Presently more than hundreds of top universities are offering the nano-engineering program.

Chemical Nano-engineering the road to modern Technology!

        “The scientist describes what is, the engineer creates what never was”.  In Nano-engineering, we attempt to design and manufacture devices and systems that exploit the unique properties of nanoscale materials to create entirely new functionality and capabilities.  Due to the scale of engineering involved, the field of Nano-engineering is inherently interdisciplinary that often utilizes biochemical processes to create nanoscale materials designed to interact with synthetic inorganic materials.  In simpler terms, Nano-engineering attempts to manipulate the ‘growth’ of materials on the nanometre scale, mimicking the processes of nature, which could potentially lead to a vast array of revolutionary materials and products that would benefit all other aspects of engineering, medicine, and other technologies, and everyday life.           

      Nano-engineering has become a challenge and opportunity to this world. The world is engaged in this field of research to give us a better tomorrow. This globe is going to be a Nanotechnology and us, as it can provide us world class facilities from environmental friendly issues to healthy health and security related solutions. This Nano-engineering program also enables us to design many chemical synthesis methods, characterization and design of nano-objects. These nano-objects play a very important role in this 21st century and will continue to play as the world is advancing faster that requires use of nano-objects. Nano-engineering program will become the major contribution to sustainable developments. In which it employs all the nano-scale materials which drastically reduces the cost of raw materials, minimum requirements of raw materials in building the nano-objects, highly environmental friendly thus leading sustainable developments. These nanoscales objects are mostly necessary for defence, industrials uses etc.

Daily to day uses of Chemical Nano-engineering

      Looking the applications from clothes to computer hard drives, Nano-engineering is playing an important role in the manufacture of numerous products that we use in our everyday life.  The tremendous research in Nano-engineering is helping us considerably to improve and revolutionize many technology and industry sectors like information technology, homeland security, medicine, transportation, energy, food safety, and environmental science, and among many others. I would like to discuss some of the advances and application in the field of Nano-engineering in a very nutshell which are given below.

  •  Everyday materials and process:  Using Nano-engineering, materials can effectively be made stronger, lighter, more durable, more reactive, more sieve-like, or better electrical conductors, among many other traits. Many everyday commercial products are currently on the market and in daily use.
  • Electronics and IT applications:  Nano-engineering has greatly contributed to major advances in computing and electronics, leading to faster, smaller, and more portable systems that can manage and store larger and larger amounts of information.
  • Medical and health applications: Nano-engineering is already broadening the medical tools, knowledge, and therapies currently available to clinicians. Nanomedicine, the application of nanotechnology in medicine, draws on the natural scale of biological phenomena to produce precise solutions for disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Energy applications and Environmental remediation: Nano-engineering is finding application in traditional energy sources and is greatly enhancing alternative energy approaches to help meet the world’s increasing energy demands. Nano-engineering has developed clean, affordable, and renewable energy sources, and also it’s a challenge to reduce energy consumption and lessen toxicity burdens on the environment.

Chemical Nano-engineering to Sustainable developments

        Sustainable model for global development, defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” has attracted increasing attention. By focusing our efforts on the preservation of the ecosystem and natural resources, we can hope to guarantee a future for the generations to come.

       The science of the very small, nano-engineering program could play a key role in tackling and providing solutions to many of these issues ranging from fresh water supply and food decontamination to green technology. These issues are predominant in India thus leading to misery of its citizens. I believe that this nano-engineering program in India will play an effective role in providing sustainable developments to its citizens. Nano-engineering program is part of revolution to tackle leading problems in the world with nano-objects.

      The world is facing great challenges in meeting rising demands for basic commodities like food, water and energy, finished goods like cell phones, cars, airplanes and services like shelter, healthcare and employment while reducing and minimizing the impact of human activities on Earth’s global environment and climate. Nano-engineering has emerged as a versatile platform that is providing efficient, cost-effective and environmentally acceptable solutions to the global sustainability.

      The recent advances and discuss opportunities of utilizing nano-engineering to address global challenges in water purification, clean energy technologies, greenhouse gases management, materials supply and utilization, and green manufacturing and chemistry. In addition to the technical challenges listed above, I am also discussing on societal perspectives and provide an outlook of the role of nanotechnology in the convergence of knowledge, technology and society for achieving sustainable development.

Why Chemical Nano-engineering India?

      One possible means of bridging the gap between India’s abundant, varied natural resources and her ever-increasing requirements like clean water, food and rapid, low cost diagnostic machinery is the use of Nano-engineering concepts. Self-reliance in Nano-engineering can make good use of the natural and human resources in our country.  India has and also help make India self-reliant in sectors like defence and anti-terrorism. India’s fast growing population will be always dependent on nanotechnology and thus nano-engineering is one of its parts of solution.

      India is still in the developing stage for Nano-engineering and it will take quite a few years for this field to become established in India. Research labs and institutions such as Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS) Bangalore, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) etc. are performing very excellent research and developing very fast in India. However, when compared with countries such as UK, Germany and USA, output of high quality research pales significantly. This is due to several reasons such as lack of integration between different departments for R&D in Nanotechnology and also lack of sophisticated experimental setups in the premier institutions working in the field of nanotechnology.

      Nanotechnology is doing very well abroad in nations such as USA, UK, Singapore, Germany and China in terms of R&D. There has been significant development towards the usage of nanotechnology in cosmetics, food and textiles. Nanomedicine is still in the R&D stage and widespread growth is yet to be expected and intensive research is being conducted in breakneck speed. Seeing the facts and the ever growing requirements with fastest growing population in India, nanotechnology will be party of such endeavours to meet the demands. Therefore, India holds an excellent potential in the field of nanotechnology for its problems to overcome and chemical nano-engineering program can be one of its solution to compete with the world economies.

Future of Chemical Nano-engineering

       Nano-engineering as an educational discipline has now reached a similar level of interest and opportunity for graduate students similar to what Aerospace Engineering did in the 60s, Computer Engineering did in the 70s, Computer Science did in the 80s, and Bioengineering did in the 90s.  In the 21st Century, Nano-engineering not only will be the discipline that underpins many engineering and science activities, its impact and enabling technologies will continue to excite and draw the most creative students, researchers, faculty and future entrepreneurs.  The Nano-engineering program will grow to keep pace with the increasing demand that we are facing in the present scenario.

      I stand bold to support that “The future of nanotechnology is very bright”.  For example, The U.S. government has made and continues to make nanotechnology a high priority.   Worldwide, governments are now investing billions of dollars per year in researching this field.  In addition to the U.S., Japan, Korea, China and several European countries have made nanotechnology research and development a top priority.

      A very inspiring quote by the former president of my country, India also an eminent Scientist Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam about Nano-engineering that India Nanotechnology initiatives are maturing into marketable products for worldwide applications. Industries, both foreign and Indian, are evincing interest to commercialize our technologies”     

      Realizing the potential business opportunities in nanotechnology, the Government of India has made significant investments with Rs.1000 crore (US$250 million) funding in 2007 for its five year plan through the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Nano Science and Technology Initiative (NSTI) to provide rich infrastructure to academic institutions, R&D institutes & national laboratories. Additional $100 million funding comes from venture capitalists. India has over 1000 scientists working on nanotechnology and 17 universities offer nanotechnology curriculum throughout the country.


Advantages of Chemical Nano-engineering

    As discussed previously, Nano-engineering is engineering at the atomic, molecular and supramolecular levels. It involves processing and manipulating matter at extremely small scales, typically 0.1 - 100nm. At this scale materials exhibit properties and behaviour that differ from those of traditional bulk materials. Nano-engineering is possibly leading to innovative materials and products in surplus that would not only benefit fields like aerospace, medicine and technology, but also for daily life. Nano-engineering also leading us to such realistic applications as self-cleaning paint that never fades or needs waxing; planes with skins that de-ice themselves and adjust to various aerodynamic environments; and more proficient and cleaner burning fuels.

      The most exhilarating benefits of Nano-engineering are, its outstandingly cost-effective, eco-friendly, raw product is rich, non-polluting, and needs only minimum energy. Nano-engineering is going to be a promising field for fresh scientific minds expecting for an opportunity to travel the leading edge of any revolutionary wave of most recent science on our way. It definitely is extensively believed nano-engineering will have got a greater impact within the world compared to the industrial revolution and is also predicted to become multi-billion dollar business in coming years.


.       Chemical nano-engineering holds great potential to the world, especially to my country. A multi-pronged approach must ensure that this is fully leveraged. Funding should be increased; with long term funding plan which can accommodate coherent research programs where high-impact outcome is needed. Various research centres of this field throughout India and world must work together so that the collective efforts can lead to better results that can full fill the everlasting demands of this globe.

     Highly equipped facilities should be plan by the premier institutions with excellent funding from the government and industries that can initiate research activities throughout the world. The administrative aspects of new projects should be streamlined globally so the more number of students can be attracted to such innovative projects. Most importantly, remuneration for people trained in the field should increase, to attract high calibre work force to join these research facilities.

     Therefore, it is also crucial that scientists developing nanotechnologies of the future are fully aware of potential risks, and communicate these clearly to the general public through an open dialogue. This coupled with the development and adoption of a clear, transparent and specific regulatory framework that could play a key role in the prevention of nanotechnology suffering the same fate. For example this can be understood that a genetically modified organisms as a safe technology in the public eye.     

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