Nanosensors — Furthering Human Development on a Nanoscale

Sensors — In our everyday lives

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  1. That car (above — assuming it is a Tesla or any other type of level 2+ automated car — more info on that in another article — hint) uses a mix of LIDAR and radar sensors along with cameras (which you can view as sensors depending on your definition).
  2. But then comes the finger, on the surface, it may not seem to have sensors. The feeling of touch is caused by a skin layer called your dermis sensing your touch and communicating with your brain.
  3. Most computers nowadays usually have some form of biometrics (i.e. IR sensor or fingerprint scanner), definitely a check for sensors
  4. The squid itself is actually pretty straightforward squids can hear, sense their position in water, and see.

Sensors: ✔

So what is a sensor? How does it function?

So what is a nanosensor then?

But WHY are they so important?

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But that’s such a small user case — not everyone has medical problems so what else can it be applied to?

  • Better durability — their small size makes it less likely to say chip like a bigger sensor would
  • Insanely low latency — again the small size makes it so that data and electrical signals have to travel less distance
  • Literal multitasking capabilities — it can do what most humans can’t: multiple things at one time
  • Less of a need for bigger samples for analyzation — especially in cases like forensics this could prove vital as it would mean the difference between life and death

Are nanosensors all the same? You make it sound like it’s a one-size-fits-all case.

  • Active nanosensors — these can send their own signals (which is really useful in the diabetic patient situation that I previously mentioned)
  • Passive nanosensors — these lack the transmitters that active nanosensors have and rely on like a sort of inference/critical thinking step by looking at multiple environmental factors to look for a change. (This is kind of like how you look for a chemical change between two or more substances)
  • Absolute nanosensors — these are really exciting because they can observe any change by using one quantitative or qualitative piece of data as a reference

So, you might look at this and say, “wow this sounds cool and could definitely be helpful, but how does any of this work?”

Nanofabrication — Cooler than it sounds

Pros:

  • You can really make it to any specification you desire — there is no limit to how much you can shave or not shave.
  • It leaves a lot of creative freedom to the designer/creator.
  • The products are unique because this is the equivalent of hand-crafting so it can root out bad designs in the nanofabrication process.

Cons: (unfortunately quite a bit)

  • This process is usually extremely time-consuming and requires patience — which most may not have
  • It also uses harsh chemicals to do some of the grunt work — environmental enthusiasts may not appreciate that as this technology becomes more widely embraced
  • There is a lot of waste produced — humans are looking for more sustainable ways of life and while there may be repurposing methods out there it might not be widely implemented yet
  • Things are not replicable — because everything is unique it is hard to scale up production to meet demand in the future

Pros:

  • This wastes fewer materials — so resourcing materials would be a lot easier than the top-down fabrication method
  • Expensive equipment typically isn’t needed — the tools to finely chop down that metaphorical piece of marble in the top-down fabrication method aren’t needed so it could potentially be more cost-effective
  • Less labor — a lot of what this method is about is using the abilities of particles to build themselves

Cons:

  • This method revolves around a controlled and simple environment — this may not always be the case since environments are usually hard to control
  • This method is still very new and has mostly been experimental — we don’t know how effective this thing could be.

Pros of self-assembly

  • It is really useful when you understand the characteristics of certain particles and how they form structures — so this can be useful if trying to mass-produce a certain pattern or design
  • It is really useful on a small scale because of how easy it is once you have done the research and experimentation involved with whatever particles you want to use
  • The manufacturing process will become easier — machines can literally build themselves because of the way these particles form

Cons of self-assembly

  • If you want to apply this method with a variety of particles with different properties, the process is redundant — a lot of the problem is that we don’t fully understand how self-assembly works
  • When things build themselves it is a bit unpredictable and you have to be very precise — in order to apply this method it takes a lot of precise work and experimentation as most of the work would involve testing certain independent variables for their significance and overall effect in the self-assembly process
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Is there any “perfect method” of nanofabrication?

  • Invest more in the research of nanofabrication and how we can efficiently research the properties of particles rather than through just blind experimentation.
  • There is a new technique that has recently emerged that improves off of the concept of bottom-up nanofabrication called DNA-based self-assembly which offers a more flexible process in terms of nanofabrication
  • Of course, there is always the possibility of making taking the best of both the top-down and bottom-up process and making a completely new process

So what’s the purpose of this whole article? Why should I care?

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Hamza Mufti 😎

Hamza Mufti 😎

Currently decreasing time taken to treat cancerous tumours by ~1000% w/ scalable nanoparticles. I like cookies.