Learning nanotechnology involves working with technology that is far smaller than a single hair on your head. This incredible field focuses on a scale of 1 to 100 nanometers, known as the atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. Advancements in this industry can create major changes in the world we live in.
To give you an idea of just how small this technology is, take into account that a hair is around 50,000 nanometers thick. Nanotechnology is the ability to change the makeup of the very atoms that comprise our world.
What Is Nanotechnology?
Scientists and engineers research and develop nanotechnology that can be used to affect us on a larger scale. Lately, it is being used in consumer products, such as your iPhone or smartwatch. The tiny scale of this technology also means it has important applications in medicine.
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To fully understand what nanoscale materials can do, let’s look at some of the nanotechnology applications that we use today, and where they are headed in the future. We’ll also review some of the best courses in nanotechnology for those who are excited to start learning about the possibilities in this tiny world within our own.
Applications of Nanotechnology
Now that you understand the term nanotechnology, we can examine its applications in our daily lives. In this section, we will explain the different uses of this science.
Nanotechnology is already used in electronics such as phones, computers, and other devices. The ability to fit what were once bulk materials into much smaller devices means we can have better and faster-operating systems.
As nanotechnology evolves, we are beginning to see screens that are bendable, flexible, and stretchable, thanks to the use of semiconductor nanomembranes.
Nanotechnology fabrics inspired by nature are engineered to stay dry, and can almost repel stains. One inspiration is the lotus flower, which has minuscule pillars that cause water to roll off its petals.
This idea was then mimicked in fabric to create stain-free clothing. The potential future uses of this nanotechnology are exciting because it can also be applied to surfaces, such as hospital walls and floors.
Today, zinc oxide nanoparticles are used in sunscreen to minimize the visible white coating on the skin. Some skin creams also use proteins from stem cells to slow the aging process in the skin. These proteins are encased in liposome nanoparticles, which combine with skin cell membranes to absorb the stem cell proteins.
Nanotechnology is being used to create everything from durable tennis balls to breathable sports clothing. Nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes, nano clays fullerenes, and silica nanoparticles are being used to make bikes, rackets, skis, and fishing equipment sturdier and lighter.
Just five years ago, the idea of electric or self-driving cars seemed impossible. But today, with the help of nanotechnology, cars are becoming stronger, faster, more sci-fi. Nanotechnology has helped improve tire traction and the capabilities of electric cars.
As the global population increases, water filtration has become a looming crisis. Nanotechnology can detect pollutants and purify water at a lower cost than a traditional pump filtration system.
Nanomedicine applications include tools that help prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases. Some applications that are being tested include particles that glow when attached to cancer cells, making diagnoses and operations more efficient.
Even more thrilling is the idea of the Nanobot. Nanobots are tiny robots that can detect a friend or foe within the body and deliver medicine. Instead of conventional drug therapies that can harm good cells along with the bad, these nanobots will be able to discern how to more effectively deliver treatments.
Nanotechnology has the potential to save our environment. Using nanotechnology can decrease the amount of waste we produce by making items more durable. Its applications in electric vehicles and water purification are also exciting prospects for our planet’s future.
Types of Nanoparticles
Below is a detailed look at the different types of nanoparticles that make up nanotechnology.
- Carbon-based nanoparticles. These include carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and fullerenes. CNTs are graphene sheets rolled into a tube shape. These materials are mainly used for structural reinforcement, as they are 100 times stronger than steel.
- Ceramic nanoparticles. These nanoparticles do not react to chemicals and are very heat resistant. They have applications in drug delivery, photocatalysis, photodegradation of dyes, and imaging.
- Metal nanoparticles. These nanoparticles can be used for imaging biomolecules, and have environmental and bioanalytical applications.
- Semiconductor nanoparticles. Semiconductor nanoparticles have similar properties to those of metals and nonmetals. They are used in electronic devices, photocatalysis, photo-optics, and water splitting.
- Polymeric nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are used in the controlled release of drug molecules, and to combine drug therapies and imaging.
- Lipid-based nanoparticles. Lipid nanoparticles are spherical nanoparticles that are applied in the biomedical field as a drug carrier, such as in cancer therapy.
Some schools may offer a minor in nanotechnology, but not many universities provide a nanotechnology major. Therefore, the typical way to learn nanotechnology is by first studying bioengineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science engineering, or medicine.
Then, after gaining an engineering bachelor’s degree, students can attend a master’s or PhD program to specialize in nanotechnology. Students can also take online courses alongside their studies to independently learn the intricacies of nanotech.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Nanotechnology?
The amount of time it takes you to learn nanotechnology depends on the course you are taking, but typically, a bachelor’s degree takes four years and a master’s degree takes two to three more.
How to Learn Nanotechnology Fundamentals: Step-by-Step
Below are the steps you should take as a beginner to get involved in the exciting field of nanotechnology.
- High school studies. Learning physics, chemistry, biology, calculus, data, and statistics is an excellent foundation for nanotech. Extra skills like data visualization and computer programming will also come in handy.
- Communication skills. Writing reports, giving presentations, and working as part of a team are required skills in nanotech. Thus, taking courses on presentation and writing would not go amiss. Check out some more similar skills to boost your resume.
- Bachelor’s degree. As previously stated, you will need to get a degree in an engineering field. This will most likely be bioengineering, biophysics, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science engineering, or medicine. Which area you choose depends on what specialization of nanotech interests you the most.
- Online courses. To begin understanding nanotech, you can take an introductory course online. They are excellent if you are not yet sure whether you want to invest the time and money necessary to pursue a master’s or a PhD in nanotechnology.
- Master’s and/ or PhD. At this point, you will study nanotech in-depth and will gain certifications that will carry you to the next point of your career.
- Network with nanotech-leaders and specialists. Finally, you should get to know people in the field of nanotech who can give you advice on furthering your career. You can do this by searching for nanotech institutions in your area, or finding an online community. Lastly, you may want to try some deep learning or machine learning courses to broaden your tech skills.
The Best Nanotechnology Courses and Training
Below are some of the best nanotechnology courses and training available. Learn engineering and technology fundamentals required for a nanotech career as you begin your studies either in-person or online.
Best In-Person Nanotechnology Courses
Here are two in-person programs for post-bachelor level students. Once you are sure that nanotechnology is the right career for you, you will want to review these options.
Johns Hopkins Institute for Nanobiotechnology
- Nanotechnology For Cancer Research Fellowship
- Where: Baltimore, MD
- Time: 3 to 4 years
This exciting fellowship is for advanced, post-doctoral students at Johns Hopkins. In it, students will build new tools to help combat cancer. This fellowship is for students of physics, biology, chemistry, and nanomaterials.
If you are interested in this program, remember that you will need to obtain your bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins to apply.
Purdue University – Polytechnic Institute
- Microelectronics & Nanotechnology
- Where: West Lafayette, IN
- Time: 3 credits
This course is part of Purdue’s electrical and computer engineering program and encompasses many other nano courses. It consists of both research and instructional classes in nanoelectronics, nanomaterials, nanophotonics, energy conversion, computational nanotechnology, and micro and nanoelectromechanical systems.
Best Online Nanotechnology Courses
Browse some of the best paid online courses, ranging from nanotech specializations to fundamentals.
- Nanotechnology: A Maker’s Course
- Where: Online on Coursera
- Time: 26 hours
- Requirements: High School level physics and chemistry
- Price: Free to enroll
In this Coursera class, you will view lab demonstrations and obtain a rich understanding of nanotechnology tools. Students will learn to use the equipment in nanoscale creations.
- The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology
- Where: Online
- Time: 4 weeks
- Requirements: Bachelor’s degree
- Price: $3,882.29
In this short course offered in conjunction with Oxford University, you will learn the fundamentals of nanotech. Students will learn to apply mathematical operations to nanoscale phenomena, as well as the different effects in nanostructures and nanoparticles.
Best Free Online Nanotechnology Courses
Here is a look at some of the free online courses that can help you grasp the basic concepts of nanotechnology before deciding to do further studies.
- Nanotechnology Course Lectures
- Where: Online on YouTube
- Time: 57 videos
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
Although this course does not technically provide certification, it is a great place to start as a complete beginner. You will learn the basics of nanotechnology in these 57 lecture-style videos.
- Nanotechnology for Health: Innovative Designs for Medical Diagnosis
- Where: Online
- Time: 4 weeks
- Requirements: Undergraduate-level mathematics and physics
- Price: Free to enroll
In this course, you will explore nanotechnology in the field of medicine. Students will learn to create devices that can be used to diagnose a disease or monitor medical treatment. Students will also learn about the ethical impact of emerging medical nanotechnology and its societal implications.
Best Nanotechnology Books
Books are a great resource to boost your nanotech awareness and gain insight from experts in the field.
This thrilling book was written by one of the founding fathers of nanotech: K. Eric Drexler. In his book Radical Abundance, he explores how our world is changing due to rapid scientific progress.
This book dispels myths about this branch of science and technology. It discusses nanotech applications and delves into the history of the specialization.
Should You Study Nanotechnology?
If you are interested in changing the world around you through altering the atomic make-up of objects and even people, then nanotechnology is for you. By learning it, you can help fight diseases, make products more efficient, and save the environment.
With something so small, you can create astronomical change. We hope you have found the right nanotechnology course for you so you can begin making big steps in the industry.
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