Nanotechnology engineering, otherwise known as nanoengineering, is a highly specialised and promising field of engineering concerned with research and development using cells and molecules on the nanometre scale. While a major part of the profession is dedicated towards research, nanoengineering also looks for ways to enhance materials already in existence. Nanoengineers are responsible for outlining plans, creating prototypes and conducting trials of their work to see if it matches its intended purpose. A continuous trial and error process of review and revision is conducted until the product operates effectively as planned.
Interesting advancements in the field of nanotechnology engineering include:
- Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery and Early Detection of Disease: One of the most prominent achievements of cancer therapeutics is the use of nanoparticles as chemotherapy drug carriers. This allows targeting of the cancerous cells alone and limits the damage caused to healthy cells, thereby alleviating the patient of harmful and unpleasant chemotherapy side effects. Another application in oncology is the early detection of cancerous tumors using a nanoparticle which raises biomarkers if the disease is present. When diseases like cancer and Alzhiemer’s are caught at early stages, a cure can be worked on a lot earlier.
- Safe Purification of Water using Nanotechnology: Scientists, researchers and nanotechnology engineers are currently working on methods to use nanotechnology towards a safe and cost-effective solution of purifying water.
- Nanophotonics/Nano-optics and Nanoplasmonics: Nano-optics deals with producing high performing and functioning optical components of reduced costs and size used towards meeting a certain requirement. Several scientific breakthroughs have been attributed to this field like the use of silicone-based semiconductors wherein nanophotonics ensure higher speed and better performance.
- Nanotoxicology and Nanosafety: Dealing with the toxicity of nanomaterials, the science of nanotoxicology and nanosafety are of utmost importance as exposure to hazardous nanomaterials by inhalation can present as disease. Awareness regarding the risks that inhalation of nanoparticles is an important feature that cannot be overlooked.
- Graphene Lenses: Smart lenses are a reality thanks to use of graphene (a 2-D single layer of carbon) in contact lenses. However, there’s a lot of research ongoing in this field and it is not yet available to the public. However, in the future, they could one day be used for useful applications like medical sensing.
- Nanobubbles Technology: The use of nanobubbles (gas-filled cavities within liquids, of nanometer diameter) is seen across fields ranging from promoting the growth of plants to disinfectants to pollutant degradation. Another area it shows great promise in is in the field of cancer therapeutics.
Nanotechnology Engineering Courses in India
Nanotechnology Engineering is taught at a Bachelor’s and Master’s level at IIT Bombay, Vellore Institute of Technology and NIT Surathkal, to name a few.
Students aspiring to pursue a career in Nanotechnology Engineering must possess a thorough understanding and knowledge of concepts from fundamental chemistry, physics and engineering of nanosystems and nanostructures. In addition to technical knowledge, they must also have analytical skills so as to review research data and create highly efficient products.
Good written and oral communication skills allow nanotechnology engineers to share their research findings with peers and colleagues. Another important skill that cannot be overlooked is attention to detail as these professionals deal with miniscule objects at a nanometer scale. They must also be able to peruse their design plans to pinpoint potential problems or the source to a specific issue.
Industries for Nanotechnology Engineers
Electronics/semiconductor industry | Materials science | Auto and aerospace industries | Sporting goods | Biotechnology | Cosmetics | Computing | Medical fields and pharmaceuticals | Environmental monitoring, control, and remediation | Integrated circuits | Food science including quality control & packaging | Agriculture | Forensics | Geosciences | Microscopy | University and federal lab research | Military and national security | Energy capture and storage