Nanoparticles: Microcosmic Solutions to Some of the Biggest Problems





Introduction

The epoch million years back was called the stone age and I will probably call this period in our world as the tech age where every day we come across a better and upgraded version of technology. We aim at constructing big structures and everything big and visible, but nobody can deny that smaller is better in the world of science. The slimmer the phone, the smaller are the electric components and much more is its monetary value. We have shifted from the large and bulky computer systems, with each one occupying a large volume of space, to our small and compact laptops. Recently, all of you must have noticed this word nanoparticle at several places. Let’s understand why and what really make nanoparticles so interesting. 


Decoding the world of nanoparticles 

Just imagine, to shoot down a big fighter plane you need a big missile. Similarly, for a small problem you need a much smaller missile. All the problems which we can’t see by our naked eyes, which start from unicells need a solution and it’s quite evident that solution should also be small. Scientifically we consider particles having a size ranging from 1 to 100 * 10 raised to the power –9 as nanoparticles. It’s claimed that nanoparticles can work very efficiently in cancer treatment, as sensors, in genetics and as cosmetics. Further, research is faster than ever in this field. Cancer starts from a single cell by oncogenic mutations via environmental factors or by genetic factors. Several nanoparticles have been found to trigger the cells in a way that the cancerous cells get atrophied. 

Ongoing Research

Research now-a-days is going on to study the side effects of nanoparticles when used in vitro, in a live human body. Being very small in size it’s tough to do research and study the properties of nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are not different elements. Rather, they are created by existing metals. Metals like gold and silver can form nanoparticles. When they are broken down to the size of nanoparticles, they change their properties. For example, a lump of sugar may take lot of time to dissolve in water but when it is broken down in small grains they get dissolved easily. The sugar as such remains chemically same but its properties as a compound change. Same thing happens with nanoparticles.


Applications

Metals in this size range show change in chemical, optical, magnetic and electrical properties. It’s tough to explore the nanoparticles and hence this field of science is majorly untouched but as now we have enough technology to understand chemistry of nanoparticles, it is a topic on which a lot of research is going on. The fact that metals change their properties when subjected to the size of nanoparticles gives us a wide range of different properties which can be exploited as we want. 


Nanoparticles have been used as ammonia sensors. We all know ammonia is quite toxic to human body. So, it’s important to carefully monitor ammonia in any environment. Carboxy methyl guar gum silver nanoparticle nanocomposite is used as sensor to sense the ammonium concentration in liquid. The optical property of silver nanoparticle is been used for detection of ammonia. Guar gum is used as stabilizer and a reducing agent to reduce silver. The property of surface plasmon resonance is a major property of silver nanoparticles which allow us to use it as a sensor. 


Conclusion

Nanotechnology is used in the field of pharmaceuticals, genetics, agriculture and many others as we just saw. Nanotechnology has the potential to bring drastic positive changes in life of humans and change the dimensions of not only science, but of humans as well. Till that day, we need to be patient and keep looking for smaller and compact solutions to the problems which seem to be getting smaller in scale but bigger in complexity. 


- Written By: Nidhi Verma
- Edited By: Purav Nayak


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Nanoparticles: Microcosmic Solutions to Some of the Biggest Problems Nanoparticles: Microcosmic Solutions to Some of the Biggest Problems Reviewed by EMN on February 16, 2020 Rating: 5

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