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Nanotech Outside the Square 3rd in 2012 Print
May 2012

This is the 3rd piece of outside the square material introduced in 2012 for extending our own horizon of vision.  Outside the square material does not increase our sales or help us win customers.  We do it for 2 purposes.  The first is link our daily life in the office to other leading edge developments around the world and give ourselves more perspective. The second is to sense potential opportunities for our next phase of business growth.  We admit that only very large organisations have this sort of mentality.   We are not large at present but we will be large soon. 

Nanotech refers to materials identified at the nanometre level.  One meter has 1000 millimetres.  One millimetre has 1000 micrometres.  One micrometre has 1000 nanometres.  The red blood cells in our body have a diameter of 5.5nm each. Human DNA cells have 2nm, and atoms have 0.3nm.  So we get the idea of the context. 

The term was coined by a professor at the University of Tokyo in 1976 to describe machining at nanometre precision.  It was not until 1990 that the 1st international conference on nanotech was held.  US President Clinton smartly initiated the first national nano plan in 2000.  The history of nanotech is thus short.  It is about the same age as info-tech and bio-tech and they constitute the 3 new old (as in letter o) technologies for this millennium.  

IEEE has recently published standards on Body Area Network.  This is an advancement corresponding to nanotech.  Commercial organisations have since announced submarines that travel in and inspect our blood vessels and inject medicine at the best locations.  Rice University has even built as early as 2006 a car with nanotech that moves on change of temperature.  The first example leads us to think in terms of Newtonian mechanics which govern the behaviour of objects on Earth.  The second example is not based on Newtonian but on Quantum mechanics in very small worlds.  This means we cannot apply our normal observations to the very small worlds.  Nano-fridge is one such example.  The fridge is not as small as in nanometres.  It contains a coating with nano-materials that fight with airborne germs and suppress their oxygen intake.  Nano-fridge keeps food fresh for a substantially longer time period than we have ever experienced. 

Why does nanotech have different laws to normal size?  Imagine the process of cutting down a piece of paper.  A piece of paper has 4 edges.  When we have cut down the paper to 2 pieces, it has 2 new lengths of edges created at the line of cutting.  However, the mass of the paper remains the same whether it is one piece or in 2 pieces.  This means the smaller piece has a longer border per mass than the single piece.  A longer border is subject to more intrusion like a country.  This is why the nano-world is full of intrusions and activities that do not exist in the normal size world.

The most famous object in the very small worlds is Carbon Nanotube (CNT). It is made of Carbon atoms in a cylinder shape.  It has a weight of 1/6 of steel but 10 times of its strength.  Marine vessels can be built with CNT alloy to reduce weight and thus drag.  CNT conducts heat and electricity too, and therefore it is mostly fine for marine applications where the sea is a vast heat and electricity sink. 

Modern CPU is built with nanotech.  Sandy Bridge from Intel is built with 32nm technology meaning that circuits are 32nm apart or components have a diameter of up to 32nm.  Ivy Bridge is 22nm and it is certainly a big step into the very small world.  There may not be much legroom when we hit the atom at 0.3nm.  We have gone 3 dimensional in order to get more legroom. 
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