NanoTechnology UPSC Notes (Prelims and Mains)

Nanotechnology(NT) can be regarded as the development of techniques to study physical phenomena and develop new material and devices structures in the physical size range from 1 to 100 nanometres (nm)

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the branch of science and engineering that involves manipulating matter so small that a regular piece of sand is viewed as a very fine dust and smaller than 1,000 nm. This scale is called nanoscale. Although the actual measurements can vary from nanometre to nanometre, nanoscale is a convenient way to talk about very small sizes. Nanotechnology as a process is used in a large variety of fields. This includes molecular diagnostics, microfluidics, medicine, chemistry and manufacturing, to name a few. Nanotechnology can be distinguished from nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the study of materials, products and processes that involves manipulating matter so small that a regular piece of sand is viewed as a very fine dust and smaller than 1,000 nm.

How nano technology relates to other sciences

There are many physical sciences that are heavily influenced by NT. For instance: Nano Biology Nano Chemistry Nano Physics Nano Materials Nano ocean science Nano electricity As for nanotechnology itself, the list of physical sciences that were strongly influenced by nanotechnology is too long. Most important things about NT People and organizations Many scientists and researchers have made the discovery of nanotechnology, and numerous organizations are now trying to implement it. One of the most notable ones is NASA, which has made several advances in NT and has published several white papers. The main goal of NASA is to make humans explore and live on other planets like Mars, a space-faring civilization.

Salient features of Mission on Nanoscience and Technology:

Capacity-building in research in nanoscience and technology: Mission focus on funding of basic research in NT by individual scientists and groups of scientists and creation of centres of excellence for pursuing studies. The mission is funding about 235 individual scientist-centric research projects on fundamental research in Nano-systems. This will lead to fundamental understanding of matter that enables control and manipulation at the nanoscale.

Infrastructure Development for Nano Science & Technology Research: Mission aimed at establishing a chain of shared facilities across the country with sophisticated equipment required for Nano research. It also focuses on establishing linkages between industry and research and educational institutions and promoting public private partnerships (PPPs).

Nano Applications and Technology Development Programmes: Mission aim to catalyse Applications and Technology Development Programmes that would lead to products and devices.

Human Resource Development: The project aims to create a large skilled manpower base through effective education and training to researchers and professionals in diversified fields so that a genuine interdisciplinary culture for nanoscale science, engineering and technology can emerge.

International Collaborations: Apart from exploratory visits of scientists, organization of joint workshops and conferences and joint research projects. It focuses on promoting foreign collaboration in NTprogrammes.

Some of the new developments in the application of nanotechnology in India are listed below:

Medical and Healthcare applications-

Nanotechnology is already broadening itself in the areas of 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.

For example, better imaging and diagnostic tools enabled by NT are paving the way for earlier diagnosis, more individualized treatment options, and better therapeutic success rates.

Electronics and IT Applications-

Nanotechnology 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.

Energy Applications-

Nanotechnology is finding application in traditional energy sources and is greatly enhancing alternative energy approaches to help meet the world’s increasing energy demands.

For example, Nanotechnology is improving the efficiency of fuel production from raw petroleum materials through better catalysis. It is also enabling reduced fuel consumption in vehicles and power plants through higher-efficiency combustion and decreased friction

Environment remediation-

In addition to the ways that NT can help improve energy efficiency, there are also many ways that it can help detect and clean up environmental contaminants

For example, Nanotechnology could help meet the need for affordable, clean drinking water through rapid, low-cost detection and treatment of impurities in water.

Future Transportation Benefits-

Nanotechnology offers the promise of developing multifunctional materials that will contribute to building and maintaining lighter, safer, smarter, and more efficient vehicles, aircraft, spacecraft, and ships. In addition, nanotechnology offers various means to improve the transportation infrastructure

Nanotechnology and its uses

Nanotechnology can be considered as an alternative technology to natural products in many ways. Nanotechnology can improve food production, water and energy usage. Moreover, nanotechnology can solve the problems of climate change. In the near future, many different products will be connected to nanotechnology. For instance, small particles, nanomaterials, which are able to control their weight and to change shape in small dimensions will play an important role in material applications, especially those for the treatment of disease. NT and Materials Nanotechnology is based on “tiny objects”, on things with small dimension and high surface to volume ratio. There are two types of materials: metal and semiconductors.

Role of  Nanotechnology in India

Research and work on NT in India started in 2001 with the formation of the NanoScience and Technology Initiative with initial funding of Rs. 60 crores. In 2007, the GOI launched a 5-year program called Nano Mission, it was allocated a budget of Rs 1,000 crores. It had a wider scope of objectives and much larger funding. Fields involved in the mission were: basic research in nanotechnology, infrastructure development, human resources development, and global collaboration. Many institutions and departments were roped in for the work such as the Department of IT, DRDO, Department of Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), etc. In both IIT Bombay and IISC Bangalore, National Centers for Nanofabrication and Nanoelectronics were established.


You can find so many possibilities for yourself if you just invest some time and effort to become familiar with the fact that nanotechnology is as much about the stuff that we use and need as it is about the stuff that surrounds us, in the air we breathe, on the food we eat, on the earth that we live on.

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