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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > The Future of Nanotechnology > The Future of Micro and Nanotechnology in Medicine

Amanda Richter

Abstract:
As technology continues to get smaller and smaller, the opportunities for it to improve our lives only continue to grow exponentially. Eventually, these advancements turn a corner and open up a whole new world of possibilities. Consider the phone, for example. At some point in the mid-90s the technology became compact enough to allow for a model that anyone could sensibly carry at all times. Sure, there had been mobile phones before then, but the technology needed time to develop before it could become truly viable.

January 6th, 2016

The Future of Micro and Nanotechnology in Medicine

As technology continues to get smaller and smaller, the opportunities for it to improve our lives only continue to grow exponentially. Eventually, these advancements turn a corner and open up a whole new world of possibilities. Consider the phone, for example. At some point in the mid-90s the technology became compact enough to allow for a model that anyone could sensibly carry at all times. Sure, there had been mobile phones before then, but the technology needed time to develop before it could become truly viable.

The medical tech industry is currently reaching a similar turning point in the field of nanotechnology. Although these microscopic devices have been at the forefront of scientific thought for several years, we are only now starting to reap the true benefits. The technology has finally proven viable, and several microdevices are having a massive effect on how doctors and scientists treat patients and gain further insight into the human body and disease prevention. Here is a look at some really exciting recent developments in the field of micro and nanotechnology, as well as a glimpse into the future.

Heart Attack Detection
The biggest hurdle with treating heart attacks is their unpredictability. A patient suffering a heart attack often arrives at the hospital minutes or hours after showing symptoms, and too often the damage has already been done. The team at the San Diego-based Scripps Health Institute is trying to change that by injecting nanosensor chips into the bloodstream of test subjects who have a high risk of having a heart attack. The newest version of the chip measures only 90 microns, making it completely imperceptible to the human eye. Although still in the testing phase, the team's goal is to create a chip that could notice the chemical changes that precede a heart attack and alert you by smartphone that you need to immediately seek medical attention. It's not a text that you want to receive, but it could save your life.

3-D Printed Medical Batteries
Medical tech is able to get smaller because of companies like Apple Rubber that are capable of making sophisticated parts. that function at such a small scale. Nanodevices are still machines. They have moving parts and circuit boards that work in much the same way as the one you're using to read this article. The trick is finding ways to build these machines, and then finding a way to bring them to life. One way that is proving to be incredibly successful is 3-D printing. A team of researchers at Harvard and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a way to print batteries that are only one millimeter wide. The method involves using two inks that contain special nanoparticles that, when combined, create an electrical reaction that could feasibly power a whole array of medically-minded nanobots.

The Eye of the Beholder
Contact-lens based nanotechnology has long been a dream of science fiction, but one Washington-based company is making it a reality. The problem has always been creating a device that can process and project images onto the eye but doesn't interfere with the wearer's vision. Nanotechnology makes that possible. The device would have wide-reaching uses in the tech world, but it could also provide a tailored visual experience for the sight-impaired. It should probably come as no surprise that Google is working on a similar device.

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