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Industry reports, briefs and video-clips issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

Three Noteworthy Nanotechnology Applications

Three Noteworthy Nanotechnology Applications

KIM Jung-Woo

Apr. 4, 2008


Welcome to our video program. I'm Jung-Woo Kim from the Technology and Industry department.

Recently, as a consumer, you may have seen the word “nano” used in the names of many home appliances and consumer oriented products and services. Some of these include “Silver Nano” washing machines and “nano-therapy.” Nanotechnology, a promising technology of the future, is being deployed in these and many more areas. Today, we'll take a look at how nanotechnology can be used in people's daily lives through the technologies introduced in the Technology Review published by MIT.

One example of the ways nanotech is entering our daily lives is in something as simple as a specially coated skillet. The idea for the coating grew from observing lotuses, which despite growing in muddy water, are impervious to dirt. The lotus flower allows water to trickle down more easily and makes it almost impossible for dirt to latch on to the surface. One professor at MIT noticed this and attempted to duplicate this effect on a skillet. His skillet could essentially clean itself, with water carrying dirt away.

In Italy, a new vehicle uses similar techniques to clean its windows without wipers. This car doesn't need wipers as nanotechnology automatically cleans dirt and water on the surface of the windshield. With this technology newly applied to electronics and appliances, TV screens and computer monitors that never get dirty are not far off.

Other researchers from MIT's materials-science department have devised a fiber that generates electricity with “nanoviruses.” When light hits the fiber, the light changes into electricity. When a certain number of nano semiconductors start to generate light and power and are combined with viruses, the viruses line up in sequence, creating fibers. Garments made from these fibers generate light. As this fiber can store power like batteries, it can be used as a portable electricity device in places like battle fields, where electricity is scarce.

One more example of nanotechnology in daily life is a new “invisible garment.” We see things not by looking at objects themselves, but by looking at the light reflecting from them. If light passes through objects instead of bouncing back, we can't see it. Drawing on this idea, a team of researchers from Duke University, led by Professor Smith, succeeded in making objects look transparent by changing the angle of light rays passing around the object.

This is akin to a person passing through a room filled with circular pillars by constantly changing direction slightly. This experiment was successfully conducted with microwaves and very small objects, not visible rays and life-size objects. Thus, it will take some time before this technology can actually appear in products. However, if this becomes possible with visible light, we might soon have real “invisible men” among us.

As we've seen earlier, nanotechnology can be utilized in various ways to make our lives more convenient. That's why nanotechnology has been called the “alchemy of the 21st century.” Nanotechnology holds huge potential. Our future will depend on how we use this new technology.

Thank you for watching. I'm Jung-Woo Kim.

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