Nanotechnology in India - UPSC Notes

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : June 7th, 2022

Nanotechnology is the science of developing and using techniques to study physical processes in the size range of 1-100 nanometres (nm). It impacts almost all areas of our lives ranging from materials and manufacturing, computers, electronics, IT and telecommunication, health and medicine, the environment and energy storage, to agriculture.

Nanotechnology is an emerging area of science and technology. Aspirants can find the mention of Nanotechnology in the UPSC Syllabus. Therefore, it is important to have a solid understanding and awareness of the developments in this field and widen the knowledge with Nanotechnology UPSC notes.

Table of Content

What is Nanotechnology?

Historically, the conceptualization and ideation of nanoscience as a domain saw its beginning with a talk titled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at the California Institute of Technology in late 1959. 

  • Feynman described a process of how manipulating and controlling individual atoms and molecules would be possible. 
  • In the late 1970s, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology. 
  • Finally, in 1981 with the help of the scanning tunneling microscope that could "observe" individual atoms, modern nanotechnology started.

Fundamentals behind Nanotechnology

  • One nanometer is a billionth of a meter or 10-9 of a meter. For examples:

                -In an inch, there are 25,400,000 nanometers 

                -Sheet of newspaper is approximately 100,000 nanometers thick

  • Nanotechnology involves observing and controlling individual molecules and atoms. Everything around us e.g. the food, clothes, the buildings and houses we live in, and our own bodies is made up of atoms.
  • Atoms are impossible to see with the naked eye or a microscope, typically used in high schools. 
  • The microscopes required to observe stuff at the nanoscale were invented in the early 1980s.
  • The invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM), enabled the birth of the age of nanotechnology.
  • Today a wide variety of ways to make materials at the nanoscale and to take advantage of their properties like lighter weight, higher strength, enhanced control of light spectrum, and higher chemical reactivity than their larger-scale counterparts are explored by the scientists.

Applications of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology finds its uses in a variety of sectors. Some of the uses of nanotechnology are given below:

Electronics

  • Nano-RAM: It is a non-volatile RAM (Random Access Memory) based on carbon nanotubes deposited on a chip-like substrate that has a small size that permits very high-density memories.
  • Nano Optomechanical S-RAM (Static RAM): This shows faster read/write time, as compared to a MEMS memory, and the processes take place without interference which further reduces time when compared to a traditional electrical enabled SRAM.

Healthcare and Medicine

  • Nanotech detector- to detect heart attacks
  • Nanochips to check plaque in arteries
  • Nanocarriers for eye surgery, chemotherapy, etc.
  • NanoFlares – used for detection of cancer cells in the bloodstream
  • Nanopores – used in making DNA sequencing more efficient.
  • Diabetic pads for regulating blood sugar levels
  • Nanoparticles for drug delivery to the brain
  • Nanosponges – are polymer nanoparticles coated with a red blood cell membrane. They can be used for absorbing toxins and removing them from the bloodstream.

Energy

  • Solar/photovoltaic paints – potential to replace solar panels. A painted surface will capture energy from the sun and transform it into electricity. 
  • Wind power generations – nanogenerators – are flexible thin sheets that when bent can generate potential power.
  • Nanobatteries – enables rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to last longer.

Food and Agriculture

  • Nano fertilizers
  • Hybrid polymers are used in packaging and to reduce spoilage
  • Sensors for food-borne pathogens
  • Nano-emulsions – to reduce bacteria in produce
  • Nanoparticles based on titanium dioxide – used as antimicrobial agents

Nanotechnology in India

  • The R&D work on nanotechnology began in India in 2001 with the NanoScience and Technology Initiative with initial funding of Rs. 60 crores.
  • In 2007, the GOI launched a 5-year program called Nano Mission with an allocation of a budget of Rs 1,000 crores. It had a wider scope of objectives and much larger funding. Fields involved in the mission were: basic research, infrastructure development, HRD, and global collaboration.
  • Several institutions such as the Department of IT, DRDO, Department of Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), etc. were roped in for the work. National Centers for Nanofabrication and Nanoelectronics were established in IIT Bombay and IISC Bangalore.

Outcomes of these initiatives

  • We have published over 23,000 research papers.
  • India ranked 3rd in papers published in 2018 behind only the USA and China.
  • Several patent applications have been filed in this field.

Concerns

  • Finance- We spend a fraction of the amount spent by leading countries like the USA, China, and Japan.
  • The quality of research- Only a fraction of the papers from India figure in the top 1% of publications.
  • Patents- Just 0.2% of them filed in the US Patent Office are from India.
  • The manpower- Very few students take up this field. The target number of PhDs in nanotechnology is an ambitious 10, 000/year by the Ministry of HRD.
  • Private sector’s contribution- It is minimal in this domain despite there being a lot of potentials.

Some recent Indian innovations-

  • The IIT Madras team used nanotechnology to decontaminate arsenic from water.
  • A team from IIT Delhi engineered a self-cleaning technology to be used in the textile industry.

 Nanotechnology International Conferences

The International Conference on NanoScience and NanoTechnology (ICONSAT) is a series of biennial international conferences held in India under the aegis of the Nano Mission, Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) NANO 2022

  • IEEE-NANO is the flagship IEEE international conference on Nanotechnology. It is an annual conference held since 2001. 
  • The 22nd edition of the IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology (IEEE-NANO 2022) will be held from the 4th to the 8th of July, 2022 in Spain.

Nanotechnology UPSC 

Nanotechnology is an imperative topic for the Candidates preparing for the UPSC Exam as this topic is part of both the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus. Candidates must give their cent percent attention to covering this topic so that they could answer any questions asked from it. In this case, preparing from Nanotechnology UPSC notes would be handy as it covers all the important sections related to nanotechnology. However, apart from the notes, candidates need to keep the right UPSC Books by their side.

Nanotechnology UPSC Notes PDF

Nanotechnology UPSC Notes PDF file can be downloaded directly from the below-mentioned link. We have covered all the important facts and information about Nanotechnology in India in this PDF file.

>> Download Nanotechnology UPSC Notes PDF

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Nanotechnology UPSC Notes PDF

  • Nanotechnology or nanotech in short is the technology that involves the manipulation of matter on atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scales. This includes particles on a scale of 1 to 100 nanometers.

  • Heinrich Rohrer (1933–2013), is known as the founding father of Nanotechnology.

  • Nanotechnology applications commonly incorporate industrial, medicinal, and energy uses. These include more durable construction materials, therapeutic drug delivery, and higher-density hydrogen fuel cells that are environmentally friendly.

  • The Government of India launched the Nano Science and Technology Mission (NSTM) in 2007 under the DST to promote R & D in Nanotechnology.

  • They are Antiviral Nano-coatings that will be coated/used on the appropriate material for producing anti-COVID-19 Triple Layer Medical masks and N-95 respirators or better masks in large quantities.

  • The R&D work on nanotechnology began in India in 2001 with the NanoScience and Technology Initiative with initial funding of Rs. 60 crores.

  • The term "nanomaterial" denotes nanoscale materials that contain nanoscale structures internally or externally. They include either engineered nanometer-scale objects such as nanoparticles, nanotubes, and nanofilms, or naturally found nanoparticles like volcanic ash, sea spray, and smoke.

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