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The future of nanotechnology beyond 2016

Florida Polytechnic University : 17 July, 2016  (Technical Article)
Nanotechnology is one of the fastest growing areas in technology and science. First introduced in 1959 by physicist Richard Feynman, nanotechnology is the practice of manipulating matter at the atomic and molecular level. Lauren Willison, Director of Admissions at Florida Polytechnic University, reviews the state-of-the-art.

Nanotechnology has experienced its most significant advancements beginning in the 2000s. From consumer products to disease detection and water purification, researchers in nanotechnology continue to introduce innovative ideas at a rapid pace across almost every industry. 

Today’s consumer can soon expect to see evidence of the nanotechnology renaissance in their daily lives. Not only are universities investing in nanotechnology degree programs to prepare tomorrow’s engineers, but the US government also continues to make significant investments in the field—including more than $1.5 billion dedicated to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. 
These investments are expected to make a significant impact in the not-so distant future. For example, the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network claims the “U.S. market value of products using nanotechnology is estimated to be $1 trillion or 5 percent of the GDP by 2020.”

Between now and 2020, the nanotechnology field is predicted to “expand to include molecular nanosystems—heterogeneous networks in which molecules and supramolecular structures serve as distinct devices (Scientific American).” This means that advancements like reducing robots and computers to minute sizes, progressive cancer treatments, and developments in solar power will become more of a reality to everyday consumers.   

Some of the most anticipated innovations in nanotechnology include:

  • Increased Water Access in Developing Countries: Researchers are using nanotechnology to make water safe and purified, an advancement that could make a significant impact on populations in the developing world.
  • Early Disease Detection: From Alzheimer’s to cancer to heart attacks, nanotechnology has the potential to identify early signs of disease, giving patients the option to begin treatment earlier for some of today’s most debilitating and deadly diseases. 
  • Battery Power and Longevity: The battery as we know it today has not significantly evolved in decades, a state that nanotechnology researchers are working to change. With the application of nanotechnology, batteries have the potential to charge in record time and maintain power for longer. 
  • Cosmetics and Skin Care: From skin creams to sunscreen, nanotechnology advancements are already being applied to the cosmetic field. For example, some screen screens use nanoparticles from ivy plants, and “research has shown that these ivy nanoparticles are more effective than oxide nanoparticles in blocking ultraviolet rays” (Understanding Nano).

Nanotechnology has and will continue to have an impact across nearly every industry in the years to come. With this predicted growth, the demand for nanoscientists and nanoengineers will also rise and new job opportunities will be introduced. As nanotechnology has developed to date, students pursuing a nanotechnology degree will have the opportunity to explore careers in the following fields: biotechnology, electronics, energy, engineering, food science, forensics, medicine and military security.

Students who graduate with a nanotechnology degree or concentration in the field will have the opportunity to be a part of advancements in the nanotechnology field, including improvements to cancer treatments, energy storage developments and agriculture advancements. Students pursuing this area of study can expect to take courses focused on: Nanoscale Phenomena and Interfaces, Computation and Programming, Instrumentation and Characterization and Nanomedicine, and Nanotherapeutics. Nanotechnology students will gain hands-on experience and lead specific business applications to solve today’s real-world challenges. 

Nanotechnology graduates entering the field can gain employment with technology-focused companies and institutions that include NASA and Lockheed Martin. As nanotechnology progresses, the number of positions in the field will grow exponentially, and today’s students will become tomorrow’s innovators in the nanotechnology field. 

Lauren Willison
As the Director of Admissions at Florida Polytechnic University, Lauren Willison is responsible for supporting the Vice Provost of Enrollment in managing recruitment efforts. She develops and coordinates on- and off-campus events, as well as manages the campus visit experience.


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