Nano World

Nano World

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4627-8.ch011
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This part of the book provides information and projects for the readers about the omnipresence of nanoscale objects – soft matter, colloids, liquid crystals, carbon nanotubes, nanoshells, and the developments in nanoscale and molecular-scale technologies involving these small structures. Nanotechnology concerns structures measuring between 1 and 100 nanometers and allows manipulating individual atoms and molecules. Since Norio Taniguchi of Tokyo Science University first used the term nanotechnology in 1974, the governments, corporations, and venture capitalists invest every year billions of dollars in nanotechnology and more than a half of advanced technologies incorporate nanotechnology products in different ways. In addition, developments in nanotechnology demand hiring in millions of trained nanotechnology workforce (, 2012).
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Early Nano Applications And Technologies

Nano applications had preceded nano technologies. Before the time when nanoparticles became the object of thorough investigation people were not fully aware of the omnipresence of nano structures functioning as the nanoscale building blocks in nature and as our makeup. The prehistoric, ancient, and medieval people did not know about the nanoscale domain because they could not see it; however, they did make use of its potential in the past by applying specific techniques without knowing why their action were effective. People applied molds on wounds without knowledge about the antibiotic properties of penicillin, and used cultured molds to produce cheese, bread, or soy sauce. Long before the advent of nanotechnology, the Upper Paleolithic inhabitants of the Altamira caves in Spain, 13,000 B.C. created cave drawings and polychrome rock paintings of wild mammals and human hands using painting materials: charcoal and pigments. Charcoal contains nano material graphene, a two-dimensional allotrope of carbon. Pigments are micro- and nano-powders; by mixing with water they can be converted in colloidal or clay form. Many pigments change the color of reflected or transmitted light because they selectively absorb certain wavelengths of light (Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain, 2012; Orfescu, 2012).

2,000 years ago Romans used the gold and silver nanoparticles in their artwork not knowing they are so minuscule. Dated from fourth century AD base of the Lycurgus cup (now in the British Museum, London) changes color from green (when illuminated from outside) to red (when illuminated from within) because it contains nanoparticles of gold and silver; followers couldn’t recreate this effect (Cook, 2005).

Medieval artists from the 500–1450 period used to add nanoparticles of gold to create stained glass windows; they produced colors from yellow-orange (with silver nanoparticles) to ruby red (with gold nanoparticles). The Renaissance (15th-16th centuries) Italian pottery makers from Deruta (2012), Umbria produced iridescent or metallic glazes using copper and silver particles: light bounces off the particles’ surface at different wavelengths giving metallic or iridescent effect. Irish stain glass designers and the Damascene masters of sword making also applied nanoparticles materials (PennState modules, 2009, Goodsell, 2006).

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