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Introduction to Nanomaterials

Chemical compounds or materials that are produced or used on a tiny scale are known as nanomaterials. The phrase "material" in fact refers to an essentially limitless number of parts that together display an average statistical performance. As a result, the functionality of nanomaterials is influenced by certain interface effects and exhibits properties that are influenced by their small size and a limited number of elements.

The term "nanotechnology" has been broken down into two categories: manufacturing at scales of 1–100 nm, and properties of materials at the nanoscale that enable their exploitation for novel applications. The size range that is currently receiving the most interest is typically between 100 nm and the atomic level, since it is in this range that materials exhibit fundamentally different characteristics from those of their bulk counterparts. The increased importance of surface and interfacial area are the main arguments for this revolution in performance. In addition, nanotechnology represents a cutting-edge paradigm in which the bottom-up method is the rule rather than the exception when it comes to fundamental ideas and understanding of the physical universe. To understand this innovative system, one must think in terms of atoms and how their interactions result in useful materials, structures, devices, and systems.

Additionally, nanotechnology has a broad viewpoint in the fields of biology, pharmacy, physics, and material science, all of which could be combined to benefit healthcare. Despite the fact that the perception of nanotechnology has been studied in healthcare research for the past three decades, it is still seen to be in its infancy because the predicted therapeutic benefits are not fully known. In order to overcome the apparent difficulties and translate the supposedly established advantages of nanoparticulate systems into clinical benefits, both the educational and industrialised sectors of society are investing time and resources in the creation of nanotherapeutics. Despite being in its infancy, nanotechnology is growing quickly, providing a wide range of opportunities for those with logical minds to use this improved technology.

By offering an in-depth analysis of recent developments in the field of nanotechnology, this chapter seeks to bridge gaps in existing knowledge of produced nanomaterials. It brings emphasis to the many definitions, classifications, basic characteristics, synthesis methods, and applications of nanomaterials.



Nanomaterials are materials that have at least one dimension in nanometric scales with a size range of 1 to 100 nm. These substances are imperceptible to the human eye. In the case of nanomaterials, approaches based on the materials science of nanotechnology are considered. These materials exhibit well-defined optical, electrical, mechanical, and quantum-mechanical features at this size, in contrast to their activity at the molecular scale. Nanomaterials can be materials having nano-objects or nano-structures. In contrast to nanostructured materials whose internal or surface structure is in the nano range, nano-objects are discrete chunks of material. Nanomaterials are intentionally, unintentionally, or naturally produced. Due to scientific advances, nanomaterials are being manufactured and used as commodities.

Nanomaterials are used in a wide range of industries, from air purification and environmental preservation to healthcare and cosmetics, thanks to their capacity to be produced in a specific way to fulfil a particular function. For instance, nanoparticles are used extensively in the healthcare industry, with medication delivery being one of the main applications. One example of this procedure is the development of nanoparticles to help the transportation of chemotherapy drugs directly to cancerous growths as well as to deliver medications to parts of arteries that are damaged to combat cardiovascular disease. Another application for carbon nanotubes is the creation of bacteria sensors by combining antibodies with nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes can be utilised in aerospace to change the shape of aeroplane wings. The composite form of the nanotubes is employed to produce bending in response to the application of an electric voltage. Nanomaterials, in this case, nanowires, are also used in other environmental preservation techniques. The use of zinc oxide nanowires in flexible solar panels and for the purification of contaminated water are two applications that are currently being investigated.


Figure 1: Scale size of nanomaterials (European Chemicals Agency, 2016)


Properties of nanomaterials

When nanoscale materials are decomposed, distinct changes in their properties can be seen. Quantum size effects lead to changes in the electronic properties of materials as they move from the molecular level to the nanoscale level. The mechanical, thermal, and catalytic properties of materials can change as the surface area to volume ratio increases at the nanoscale. At nanoscale sizes, many insulator materials begin to behave like conductors. The same applies to nanoscale dimensions, where we can see a variety of fascinating quantum and surface phenomena.

Physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials include size, shape, chemical composition, crystal structure, stability, surface area, surface energy, and other properties. The surfaces of nanomaterials become reactive with each other and with other systems as the surface-to-volume ratio increases. The pharmacological effects of nanomaterials are greatly influenced by their size. Nanomaterials can change their crystal structure upon interaction with water or other dispersing media. The aggregation state of nanomaterials depends on their size, composition, and surface charge. The magnetic, physicochemical, and psychokinetic properties of these materials are affected by surface coatings. Strong polar or covalent bonds or van der Waals forces are responsible for particle interaction at the nanoscale. Polyelectrolytes can be used to alter the surface characteristics of nanomaterials and their interactions with other substances and environments.



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Written by,

Nurintan binti Jamil, Internship Student, Nanomaterials Synthesis and Characterization Laboratory (NSCL), ION2 &
Dr. Mohd Hafizuddin Ab Ghani, Research Officer, Nanomaterials Synthesis and Characterization Laboratory (NSCL), ION2


Date of Input: 30/08/2022 | Updated: 06/05/2024 | roslina_ar


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