Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is a relatively modern science, with the suggestion of research and developments of a very miniature nature being made in 1959 and the term 'nanotechnology' being defined in 1974 by a Japanese professor. A 'nanometre' is 1 millionth of a metre, which is generally only made up of a few atoms, where 'normal' sized objects are made up of many thousands.
Nanotechnology is widely regarded as a very exciting and revolutionary science and is currently a fast-growing area. It is hoped that the science will lead to exciting developments in health and medicine, environmental areas, information technology and for the military. Examples of nanoscientific advances so far include nanoparticles in suncream that block out the suns harmful ultraviolet rays, or self-cleaning windows that are impregnated with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide which breaks down the dirt when it is hot and sunny and then this is washed away in the rain. It is hoped that other advances will include nanoparticles delivering drugs to certain areas of the body, or intelligent clothing that can monitor blood pressure or heart rate. Hazardous chemicals could be rendered harmless by nanoparticles, and they could also be used in laser treatments that can kill cancer cells. The possibilities, it seems, are endless.
However, some think that the technology could be dangerous or at the very least controversial. The idea that 'nano' foods could be created has been met with alarm, especially after the recent controversy that surrounded the genetically modified food experiments. Ideas for nanofoods include milk that tastes like cola so that more children will drink it, and foods enhanced by the nutrients found in fruit and vegetables for those that don't eat enough of them. Also the idea of weapons being made using nanotechnology frightens many.
Nanoscience and nanotechnology encompasses many areas of science including chemistry, physics, photonics, environmental science and biology, and therefore the courses are quite broad in the first year or so. However, as the science becomes more and more accessible and the developments continue, nanotechnology seems likely to be around for some time.
Example areas of study
Some courses in nanotechnology and nanoscience are combined with another branch of science such as chemistry and physics, mainly because the subjects are all intrinsically linked. An idea of the subjects that you may have the opportunity to study is listed below, but make sure that you check with the institutions themselves before submitting your application.
- Organic/inorganic chemistry
- Combustion chemistry
- Modern materials in technology
- Atoms and quantra
- Light and matter
- Electricity and magnetism
- Nanoscience and nanotechnology
- Condensed matter physics
- Nanomachines and nanoparticles
- Relativity and particles
- Catalysis and spectroscopy
- Molecular biology
- Thermal physics
- The nanoscale
- Electronic engineering
- Orbital motion
- Nuclear physics
- Quantum mechanics
- Quarks and leptons
- Physical chemistry
- Radiation science
- Silicon technologies
- Crystal engineering
Some career possibilities
With a degree in nanoscience or nanotechnology you may wish to further your research and study by undertaking postgraduate study. Career possibilities include chemical engineering, teaching or lecturing, scientific journalism, or a career in manufacturing or with one of the many technology companies around the world.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for nanoscience and nanotechnology courses vary between the institutions that offer them so it is best to check with them before deciding which universities you wish to apply to. Below is a general guide to the grades and qualifications that may be required:
- UCAS Tariff: 240-340 points including mathematics and chemistry and/or physics
- A-levels: CCC-AAB including mathematics and chemistry and/or physics
- SQA Highers: BBBBC-AABBB including mathematics
- SQA Advanced Highers: BBB including mathematics and chemistry and/or physics
- International Baccalaureate: 28-38 points including mathematics and a relevant science
- European Baccalaureate: 60-80% including mathematics and physics
- Irish Leaving Certificates: BBBBB including 2 relevant science subjects
- BTEC National Diploma: DDM in a relevant science subject
For your application or interview the following maybe useful:
A good knowledge of recent developments and advances in the subject would be advantageous if you are asked to attend an interview. You may find the following website useful: The Institute of Nanotechnology.
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to www.coursediscover.co.uk.