What is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary branch on engineering involving study of materials at a length scale of 1-100 nm. One nanometer is a billionth of nanometer. For reference, a sheet of paper is 100 thousand times thicker than a nm and a human hair is 70 thousand times thicker than a nm. Nanotechnology involves synthesis, imaging, modeling, and manipulating materials at this length scale. The materials properties at this length scale are very different than the bulk scale properties of materials. The difference between bulk properties and nanoscale properties is due to the different nature of physics theories. At nanoscale the quantum effects govern the properties of the materials unlike at the bulk scale where classical mechanics govern the behavior of material properties. Because of this difference, the materials designed using nanotechnology demonstrate unprecedented properties and scientist are taking advantage of nanoscale phenomena to bring useful and innovative applications.
Carbon nanotubes are one of the most researched nanomaterials because of their excellent mechanical, electrical and thermal properties. It consists of carbon atoms covalently bonded in a cylindrical crystalline lattice. A single wall carbon nanotube consists one cylinder of carbon atoms while multiwall carbon nanotubes have many concentric cylindrical lattices of carbon atoms. Single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are much lighter yet many times stronger than steel making them the strongest known material. The Young’s modulus of SWCNTs is in order of 1 TPa, where as carbon fibers have 800 GPa and glass fibers have 70 GPa. CNTs have average breaking strength of 30 GPA whereas carbon fiber about 6 GPa and high strength steel about 3 GPa.
Nanotechnology research is taking place at a fast pace since the discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1991 by Lijima. Since last few decades, nanotechnology so far has created variety of materials useful as sensors, diagnostic probes, self cleaning coatings, stronger and multifunctional materials based on carbon nanotubes, electronic devices, energy storage devices and antibacterial coatings. Here we will brief some of the important applications of nanotechnology.
Carbon nanotube based composites with epoxy resin are in market in the form of sports related products such as golf stick, tennis rackets, helmets and sports bicycles.
Carbon nanotube based polymer composites are many times stronger and yet lighter in weight than steel and replacing the metals in the aircraft’s structures and thus reducing the fuel consumption. Carbon nanotube based coatings and paints are finding use in radar absorbing materials as well as to help airplanes avoid accidents due to the lightning strike. Carbon nnaotubes are one billionth of meter in diameter. Our hair is 70,000 times thicker than a carbon nnaotube which is an amazingly powerful material having excellent electrical, mechanical and thermal properties.
Carbon nanotubes based composites are finding use in battery materials to store the electrical energy. CNT based materials are also finding use in the sensors to sense harmful and toxic gases. The sensors made from CNT based composites are being utilized to monitor the condition of civil structures such as in the civil bridges and roads to detect the cracks before the structure collapses and thus very useful to avoid accidents. CNT based printed field effect transistor are also gaining popularity in research to replace the convention silicon based semiconductor, however there are challenges yet to be solved in order to replace silicon with carbon nanotubes however, progress is being made and is promising to create the electronic devices performing at very fast speed with less power consumption.
If you want to indulge in something nano, here is a very simple exercise:
Take a lead pencil and peel it. Now take a cello tape and press over the lead pencil and peel it. You made a monoatomic layer of graphene on the cello tape!!
Nanotechnology research efforts at JK Lakshmipat University
Since, JKLU is being supported by well-known JK Organization that is the leader in variety of commodity sectors such as cement, paper, tyre, defense electronics, dairy and agriculture seeds, the emphasis at one of the best universities in Jaipur JKLU which is among the top universities in Jaipur, Rajasthan is therefore always remains on the industrial application of the technical education. In view of this, the research efforts being carried out by the Principal Investigator, Dr. Murari Lal Gupta include to set up nanomaterials processing and testing laboratories with the support of government agencies such as DST ,DRDO and industries. Dr. Gupta is recipient of DST Young Scientist Scheme fast track research grant and is currently planning to set up labs at IET, JKLU with support of central government and industry such as JK tyres to develop and process multifunctional polymer nanocomposites having applications in automobile, aerospace and tyre industry. Dr. Gupta is also collaborating with US based Illinois Tool Works (ITW) polymers division, Howard University in Washington, DC USA and JK Tyre and Industries Ltd in India to develop nanomaterials based superhydrophobic coatings, toughened epoxy composites for military applications and advanced nanostructured automobile tyres. The overall idea of having the laboratories of nanotechnology at JKLU is to give the undergraduate students an opportunity to have a practical feeling of this fascinating multidisciplinary branch of engineering and to promote applied research by involving MTech and PhD scholars. Having collaborations with leading industries and US universities is certainly an additional exciting opportunity to involve selected BTech, MTech and PhD students for advanced training in partner industries and collaborating foreign universities.
For further reading:
About the Author:
Dr. Gupta is recipient of DST Young Scientist Scheme fast track research grant and is currently planning to set up labs at IET, JKLU with support of central government and industry such as JK tyres to develop and process multifunctional polymer nanocomposites having applications in automobile, aerospace and tyre industry. Dr. Gupta is also collaborating with US based Illinois Tool Works (ITW) polymers division, Howard University in Washington, DC USA and JK Tyre and Industries Ltd in India to develop nanomaterials based superhydrophobic coatings, toughened epoxy composites for military applications and advanced nanostructured automobile tyre’s.
Dr. Murari Lal Gupta
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
JK Lakshmipat University
P.O. Mahapura, Mahindra SEZ, Jaipur