13 May 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) How can nanotechnology help to enhance socio-economic development in the country?

(150 Words/10 Marks)

Nanotechnology is a field of scientific research and innovation that deals with particles at nanoscale size (from 1-100 nanometre). The material at nanoscale is believed to show different/distinct properties in terms of its physiochemical, biological, mechanical, optical, and electronic characteristics.

Nanotechnology can help to enhance socio-economic development in the country in the following ways:

  1. Health and medicine:
  2. a) Development of efficient drug delivery systems.

E.g., gold nano-particles help in elimination of disease-causing bacteria.

  1. b) Nano-technology can aid in early detection of diseases.

E.g., antibodies attached to carbon nanotubes.

  1. c) Emergency response: Injection of synthetic platelets to reduce internal bleeding in trauma patients.
  2. d) Nano-food fortification to tackle malnutrition.
  3. Agriculture:
  4. a) Quantum dots for live imaging in plant root systems; verify and correct physiological processes and stresses.
  5. b) CNT nano sponges increase efficiency of soaking up pesticides, fertilisers, etc.
  6. c) Gold nanorods aid in regulation/monitoring of cell culture growth of various plants/crops.
  7. d) Nano-encapsulation for protection of plants against toxins and controlled release of nutrients (precision agriculture).
  8. Electronics:
  9. a) Development of energy-efficient, cheaper, and faster chips and sensors.
  10. b) Nanoscale transistors can increase data-storage capacity; aid in processing of big data for businesses and governance.
  11. c) Nanophotonic technology can considerably increasing the internet speed.
  12. Environment:
  13. a) Nano-porous membranes to produce biofuel; Reducing GHG emissions through efficient fuel production and lower fuel consumption and
  14. b) Purification of water through nano-sensors made of titanium oxides.
  15. c) Efficient energy storage through improved capacity and safety of lithium-ion batteries.

While there are several advantages of nanotechnology, there are certain challenges:

  1. Health-challenges:
  2. a) Nano-pollution: Particles of nano-waste remain suspended in the air for a long duration.
  3. b) Adverse effects on health.

E.g., Titanium oxide nanoparticles used in cosmetics can lead to quicker ageing of colon cells.

  1. c) Inhaled carbon nano tubes are known to suppress immune system by affecting the functioning of T-cells.
  2. Effective regulation: Hard to track the use pattern and effects. E.g., products do not have labelling for nanoparticles.
  3. Lack of acceptance and awareness regarding nanoparticles/technology makes their scalability a challenge.

E.g., apprehensions about nanotechnology-based food augmentation.

  1. Excessive use of nanoparticles may lead to phytotoxic, genotoxic, and cytotoxic effects in plants.
  2. Supporting infrastructure like reproducibility, intellectual rights protection, quality control, characterization etc., are lacking.
  3. Research and development is limited due to lack of human resource, infrastructure, funds etc.

Also, high cost associated with nanotechnology may create a nano-innovation divide for businesses and nano-divide for the society.

Nanotechnology holds several benefits for the socio-economic growth of the country. However, there is a need to provide a complimentary policy, research, and financial support

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