Nanotechnology UPSC: Nanoparticles, Applications of Nanotechnology in India

By Balaji

Updated on: February 17th, 2023

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 the topic 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

  • 1. What is Nanotechnology? (more)
  • 2. Nanotechnology Fundamentals (more)
  • 3. Applications of Nanotechnology (more)
  • 4. Nanotechnology in India (more)
  • 5. Nanotechnology International Conferences (more)
  • 6. Nanotechnology UPSC (more)
  • 7. Nanotechnology UPSC Questions (more)

What is Nanotechnology?

A structure, device, or system that is created, produced or used by manipulating atoms and molecules at the nanoscale, or having one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nanometers (100 millionths of a millimetre) or less, is referred to as Nanotechnology.

Historically, the conceptualization and ideation of nanoscience as a domain began 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 how manipulating and controlling individual atoms and molecules would be possible.
  • In the late 1970s, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology.
  • Finally, modern nanotechnology started in 1981 with the help of the scanning tunnelling microscope that could “observe” individual atoms.

Nanotechnology Fundamentals

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 a newspaper is approximately 100,000 nanometers thick

  • Nanotechnology involves observing and controlling individual molecules and atoms. Everything around us, e.g., 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 tunnelling 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, and enhanced control of the light spectrum, and scientists are exploring higher chemical reactivity than their larger-scale counterparts.

Applications of Nanotechnology

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


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


  • 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 – enable rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to last longer.

Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food

  • 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 IT Department, DRDO, Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), etc., were roped in for the work. National Centers for Nanofabrication and Nanoelectronics were established at 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 the USA and China.
  • Several patent applications have been filed in this field.

Concerns Regarding Nanotechnology in India

The major concerns regarding nanotechnology in India are:

  • Finance- We spend a fraction of the amount spent by leading countries like the USA, China, and Japan.
  • Quality of research- Only a fraction of the papers from India figure in the top 1% of publications.
  • Patents- 0.2% of them filed in the US Patent Office are from India.
  • Manpower- Very few students take up this field. The target number of PhDs in nanotechnology is an ambitious 10000/year by the Ministry of HRD.
  • The private sector’s contribution is minimal in this domain despite a lot of potentials.

Some recent Innovations in Nanotechnology in India

  • 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 international biennial 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 the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus. Preparing from Nanotechnology UPSC notes would be handy in this case as they cover all the important nanotechnology sections. However, besides the notes, candidates must keep the right UPSC Books.

Nanotechnology UPSC Questions

Question: Who first used the term nanotechnology, and when?

  1. Richard Feynman, 1959
  2. Norio Taniguchi, 1974
  3. Eric Drexler, 1986
  4. Sumio Iijima, 1991

Answer: Option A

Question: Which consumer products are already being made using nanotechnology?

  1. Fishing lure
  2. Golf ball
  3. Sunscreen lotion
  4. All of the above

Answer: Option D

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