The history of computer technology involves a sequence of changes to the functionality of the machines. One of the foremost of these changes is an evolution of computer’s size. The first Apple Macintosh was a bulky box with one floppy drive, a small screen and very limited processing capabilities. Then the first Apple laptop, which was a compact sleek box with, improved procession capabilities and the ability to run for a short period when it wasn’t plugged in. Finally the iPhone, while being a phone, it as many of the same computing capabilities as older computer– all in a very small box. In fact its capabilities have long surpassed those of the first Macintosh. All of these changes in computer’s physical size and associated increase in processing power were made possible because of the developments in design and manufacturing of computer chips- they have become smaller and more powerful. The possibility for these chips to be so small is because they will be designed and manufactured using a new technology, which is being called nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology refers to the design of devices on a very fine (small) scale. The best way to look at nanotechnology is to focus on computer chip design. Use of this technology will allow the designing and creating of a chip that is smaller in physical size what we have right now, but at the same time that is more powerful. If computer chips are “larger” in terms of physical dimensions, we can put fewer of them into a computer – resulting in smaller processing capabilities, or if we want to have more processing power, we need to have a bigger “box” to accommodate them. Nanotechnology allows us to design chips on a much smaller (1 nano) physical scale. When this is accomplished, the computer chip can be much smaller but with the same or even bigger power then the current one. This means that we will be able to put more of these chips into computers increasing their power and thus allowing users to run more complex applications. This also allows for very unconventional use of “computers. For example, imagine a “smart” coat, which would be equipped with nanochips (mini computers), that could register the weather temperature, humidity and body warmth. Then based on the calculations performed by these nanochips, the coat would be equipped with the ability to automatically adjust the fiber density to suit both body and external conditions.
If nanotechnology has the ability to help in creating such items as a “smart coat”, why it did not find its place on the marketplace? This is because nanotechnology is still in its developmental stage. Nevertheless, nanotechnology finds its place in the development of such ordinary items as sunscreen, cosmetics, food products and packaging, clothing, disinfectants, household appliances, surface coatings, paints and outdoor furniture varnishes. These items rely on a particular aspect of nanotechnology – namely a knowledge and ability of combining the particles. These applications still come with some concern because some believe that nanomaterials have the potential to be toxic to humans and the environment.
Nanotechnology is allowing organizations the opportunity to invest in a new and exciting technology, which has the potential for great returns. Their reasons for investment would be, that forward-looking companies would be able to think about future products that would rely on nanotechnology. Once created these products will become market leaders. In addition to the ability for nanotechnology to create new products for companies there is a great potential for funding to support their ventures. Nonetheless many social scientists believe that the technology will have larger social implications and has the potential to aggravate the financial and technological gap between developed and developing countries. This is because developing countries will not be able to join in the technological race and not be able to take advantage of the funding available to primarily the North American countries.
Bellis, Mary. Inventors of the Modern Computer. About.com.
Benjamin, Simon and Artur Ekert. Towards Quantum Information Technology.
Centre for Quantum Computation.
Introduction to Nanotechnology: Nanocomputing. Binghamton University.
Nano Computing. Nanovic.
Nanocomputing: The next wave. The Hindu, November 29, 2001.
Nanotechnology. Businessworks Inc.
Pros and Cons of Nanotechnology for Developing Countries. Nanotechnology- Info.