The future is small. Nanotechnology and nanosensors set to save millions of lives. – Info Gadgets

Nanosensors are small things with big potential. While, can be used for numerous tasks, including: detecting gases, pollution monitoring, blood borne sensors (detecting medical diagnosis) , detecting bacteria and viruses, making devices thinner and less heavy, killing germs, etc., I will be focusing on the ’ current evolution, and possible evolution in medicine.

Nanotechnology is the study of very small things. Nano sensors are extremely small devices used to sense specific data. These incredibly tiny sensors are able to detect different molecules and enzymes in the body, and within the substance placed on them. For example, some nanosensors are able to diagnose a patient’s condition by a small blood sample. Although the technology is not perfect, these devices will help us save billions of lives in the future. Nanosensors will advance the medical field sufficiently because they will make medical diagnosis faster and easier.

A quarter of all cancer patients die within 6 months due to late diagnosis. If their cancer is too far developed, it becomes more difficult to treat it. The evolution of nanosensors can sufficiently decrease the number of people who are dying because of late diagnosis. These sensors will help doctors and researchers discover different cancers faster, in order to make cancer a more treatable illness. The use of nanosensors is bringing researchers closer and closer to curing cancer. These devices could be the key to the cure. Cancer is one of the top leading illnesses in the world. Something has to be done to solve it.

Almost 10 million people die of cancer worldwide. Nanosensors can and will do so much more than helping diagnose people with cancer. They will help us understand our bodies and how they function better. We will be able to see what is in our blood.

In the future, researchers and health professionals hope nanosensors will allow doctors to diagnose cancer at its earliest stage. This image is of a cancer cell. Cancer cells are cells whose DNA has become mutated, and reproduces indefinitely, and eventually they invade the organs of the patient’s body.

Nanosensors are vital to helping us improve and fix the world’s biggest issues. Not only will they help us advance medicine, and assist millions of people struggling with diseases, nanosensors will allow us to understand the physics of our surroundings.This very small technology, could help unlock our world’s biggest issues. Nanosensors, although helpful, are very difficult to study. People working in , working on nanosensors, are dealing with very small things. To put it into perspective: nanosensors fall under the nanoscale of 1–100 nano metres; the thickness of a piece of paper is about 100,000 nano metres; the thickness of a single hair is also about 100,000 nano metres. This means, nanosensors (which fall under the nanoscale) are approximately 10,000–100,000 smaller than the thickness of a hair or sheet of paper. This makes the technology very hard to study. However, it is still very useful in improving our day-to-day lives.

Despite the difficulty to understand innovative technology at such a small scale, nanosensors will become increasingly vital for our future. As our population increases at such a fast rate, diseases will become more and more common. By 2030, cancer case numbers are expected to rise up to 68% due to faster aging and growing populations. That means, in less than 15 years, we will have about 68% more cancer cases world wide than we do now. This number will just increase if we do not find a cure. Nanosensors are needed to help us with the biggest medical concerns for the future.

In the medical field, new nanosensors are being created so that doctors and healthcare professionals are able to diagnose diseases with small samples. Some of these nanosensors are able to take a small sample or blood or saliva and can detect various kinds of illnesses. These sensors are extremely sensitive, so they take the human sample, and provide quick results. In many medical cases, patients often do not have a lot of time to deal with their treatment. If doctors are able to get results faster with nanosensors, they have more time to treat the patient. Nanosensors are able to deliver results faster, without the use of a lab and they can be used in remote locations.

Nano materials included in the device above allow doctors to test patients for dozens of diseases, just by using a singular drop of blood.

But how exactly does this advanced nanosensor diagnosis system get built?

Nanosensors are constructed through the process of nanofabrication. Nanofabrication is the process used to create very small devices, such as nanosensors, which operate on the nanoscale. There is more than one way to approach nanofabrication: IC fabrication, bricklaying method and biochip growth. Another very important and popular impact is lithography.

IC (integrated-circuit) fabrication is a method of producing nano devices by: removing atoms one-by-on from a microchip. This process involves using singular atoms.

The “bricklaying” method involves assembling a chip atom-by-atom.

Biochip growth involves a suggested technique that adverts growing biochips similar to growing seeds. The components of the chip would form similarly to how cells dividing in living things.

This is an image of the steps in photolithography. The blue section is the wafer, the green is the oxidized layer and the yellow section is the photo resist layer. Photolithography steps will be explained below:

Nanotechnology is a science that works at the molecular level -atom to atom. Lithography is part of the process of nanofabrication. Photolithography is the usage of light to print a product. Lithography comes from the greek word lithos. Lithos means stone. Photo means light. Photolithography means printing with light onto the “stone”.The stone in this case is the wafer material that the nanosensor will be made out of. This process selectively removes atoms of a substance or material.

Steps: the wafer (an example is: silicon) is heated in order to remove moisture. The wafer is then oxidized (an example is: silicon dioxide coating), then the wafer is covered with a photoresist coating.The wafer is rapidly spun in order to produce a uniform layer of the oxide and photoresist layer. After, it is exposed to UV radiation through a photomask. The photo mask has predetermined shapes of the desired microchip shape. The parts of the mask that are exposed allow the UV radiation to contact the photo resistant layer and cause an indent. After parts of the photoresist layer are taken off by the UV light, the oxide layer is left unprotected and taken away by hydrofluoric acid (etching). Photoresist is then taken off, but the oxide layer still remains. This is the creation of a nanosensor.

Image of a sensor, post lithography.

Although these tiny, sensitive, and possibly life saving devices are vital to helping solve our world’s biggest issues, they have some cons. It is very hard to produce a sensor so small ( it cannot be seen with the human eye) in mass production. The actual sensor is on the nanoscale, meaning it is 10,000 to 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. As imaginable, it is very hard to mass produce sensors of this size. Additionally, the wires must be put in precise locations in order for the device to work properly. Despite the fact that nanosensors are incredibly tiny, they are still very complicated, specific and not easy to manufacture.

Over the past few years, nanofabrication processes have improved to allow for more precise and revolutionary production of products. Nanosensors will revolutionize the way we live our lives. It is important to improve the processes needed to produce nanosensors so that they are: faster, cheaper are easier to make.

Nanosensors need some improvement involving their production methods. In order to keep up with the world’s demanding medical issues, we must be able to keep the latest advanced technology up to date.

It is suggested that the biggest advancements in medicine will one day be thanks to nanosensors. Currently, there are many researchers going along to produce these tiny devices, 500 000 times smaller than a grain of salt; small enough to put in your bloodstream, yet powerful enough to detect and analyze singular molecules in your body. In order to advance research in this field and continue improving these designs, we must be able to manufacture and produce nanosensors better and faster. Currently, one of the major concerns is mass producing the nanosensors.

In cancer patients, these sensors will be used in order to find specific molecules only produced by cancer cells. This will give researchers more data and a better understanding of cancer in other people’s bodies. This technique will allow for cancer diagnosis within minutes of placement in the body.

Other people are working toward using advanced nanotechnologies and nanosensors in order to treat cancer. Cancer is essentially a mutation in the genes/DNA of a person, in that they start producing cells that do not shut down and reproduce indefinitely until they take over different organs in your body and disrupt their functions. Nanosensors are being used to detect where cancer is located in the body, but other nano devices will be able to go to the cancerous parts of the body and give them chemo drugs, but only to the cancer cells -not the other healthy parts of the body. This treatment is still in the working, but it could save millions or billions of lives in the future as cancer increasingly becomes a bigger issue. The treatment also would not affect the patient that much or cause them pain. Due to the small size of the nano treatment, the drug will get to the cancerous part of the body, without impacting the healthy cells, eliminating side effects of traditional treatments.

Need to improve nanofabrication

Nanofabrication, although useful in building sensor, can be improved in a few ways. There are a few problems with nanofabrication involving photolithography. When using photolithography, you are essentially exposing a wafer material coated with a photoresist and an oxide layer. One common concern is the length you should expose the resit to the UV radiation. However, there is no set time because there are many variables in the process. Several things alter the needed exposure time including: resist thickness, smallest feature size, type of contact, etc. Different ways of manufacturing a wafer will alter needed exposure time. Since producing a nanosensor through photolithography is such a precise process, we must attempt to figure out ways to have the process take less time in order to mass produce the sensors.

Now that we know what nanosensors are, how they are made, the problems with their production and how they will help humans in the future; how do nanosensors work?

Nanosensors work by measuring electrical charges in the materials on the sensors. These sensors are very sensitive, and are able to detect specific materials. For instance, nanosensor technology that will be used to diagnose cancer, will be wired and manufactured to detect cancer cells throughout the body. These very small sensors will move through the body with the help of very small nano robots. Due to their minimal size, these sensors will not disrupt other functions of the body.

Cancer detecting nanosensors

Cancer nanosensors will work by being engineered to detect specific proteins within the bloodstream and throughout the body. These devices will be able to detect more than one type of protein being emitted from a tumour or within the bloodstream. Nanosensors are also one thousand times more sensitive that the traditional standard of care in cancer patients. This means they will be able to better and faster detect certain proteins within the patients, and knowing what proteins and at what concentrations they exist, doctors are able to customize treatment plans.

These sensors are inserted into the patient via needle. These sensitive sensors will detect proteins caused by tumours, and have the results ready within minutes. The nanosensors will provide rapid results, and allow people to catch their cancer at earlier stages. The early the stage of cancer, the easier it is to treat.

Another useful thing about nanosensors inserted in body is that they will promptly detect medical diagnosis, and the results stored/detected by these sensors will not only be delivered faster than traditional detectors, but they will be more accurate. Despite its size, nanosensors are extremely powerful thanks to their sensitivity. They are able to use electrical signals and light emitted by proteins to detect cancer cells faster and more efficiently. They are able to find tumour cells based on the specific enzymes only tumour cells give off. As the nanosensor travels through the patient’s body in their blood vessels, they are able to recognize cancerous enzymes. If a tumour is giving off more than one enzymes, the sensor is powerful enough to record the concentration of all of the enzymes it finds in the blood stream.

Nanosensors are so small they are able to flow through the body and find their way to cancer cells and tumours.

Using today’s technology to detect cancer, some cancer tumours will need to grow for 10 years in order to be seen by our current cancer detecting devices. At this point, the tumours will be 50 million cancer cells big. Often, this is a very late stage in cancer production and it is hard to treat. By creating a nanosensor 1–100 nano metres large, we will be able to detect cancer at its earliest stages, making it easier to treat. These nanosensors are small enough to flow through the body, and sensitive enough to detect enzymes produced by cancer cells. Tumours make chemicals called enzymes, the nanosensors are able to recognize these tumours and signal the data they find to the outside world. Essentially, the cancer nanosensors work by flowing throughout the body and being sensitive enough to detect specific enzymes produced by cancer cells.

This image is a simplified version of the nanosensors cancer testing. The green diagrams are the nanosensors, which are manufactured to detect enzymes/proteins produced by the tumour. In one nanosensor, it detects the enzyme produced by cancer (red circle) and will take the information and signal it to the outside world, as it has detected a tumour.

Once the nanosensors detect the tumour created enzymes, how does the information get signalled to the outside world?

Since nanosensors operate on the nanoscale, after passing through the body and detecting a tumour, they make their way to the kidney. The job of the kidney is to filter waste in the body and it to the body’s urine. Since nanosensors are small enough to travel through the blood and body of a patient, but sensitive enough to detect certain cancer caused enzymes, they are also the ideal size so that the kidneys will place them in the urine. When the nanosensor gets into the tumour and becomes activated by the enzymes, it gives off a very small signal -small enough to be filtered out by the kidney and placed into the urine, where it is brought back to the outside world.

The nanosensors will then be in the patient’s urine, and through a few selective tests, doctors can read what the nanosensors detect, in order to figure out if the patient has cancer and where. Essentially, through a simple urine test, doctors will be able to detect whether or not a patient has cancer and where. These results would not only be accurate, but they would take a fraction of the time in contrary to traditional screening methods.

Need for improvement

In conclusion, our future is small. Our technology is getting thinner and thinner, and soon we will have cancer detecting devices 500,000 times smaller than a grain of salt. With the rapid growth and success of these new nanotechnologies, such as nanosensors detecting cancer, we will need for rapid manufacturing. It is the hope that one day we will be able to have sensors in our bodies monitoring different things such as cancer detections and blood statistics. One day we might be able to have wrist bands displaying the results found by nanosensors in our bodies. Soon, we may be able to test for heavy metals and pesticides in our drinking water using nanosensors, or find ways to test the air we breath. Nonetheless, this technology is growing. We need to test and perfect it before we use it in our everyday lives. This will require greater mass productions and better/more effective nanofabrication processes.

Lithography

Nanofabrication is a complicated process. There are many different ways of nano-fabricating something. One method, discussed previously in the article, was photolithography. Lithography is basically a process that is used in order to transfer a computer developed pattern, onto a wafer material. Photolithography transfers the pattern by exposing certain parts of the wafer to high energy UV light. Other forms of nanofabrication include: E-beam nanofabrication, scanning-probe techniques and self-assembly and template manufacturing.

Photolithography is a very difficult nanofabrication technique to be done on a nanoscale. Instead, E-beam lithography is an attractive alternative. In place of using UV light to expose the wafer, this technique utilizes an electron beam to expose the wafer. Beam control can be slightly difficult, making it hard to mass produce the nanosensors. Each sensor needs to use a beam in order to expose itself and have a computer generated pattern. In order to make E-beam lithography more efficient, we must improve our electron beam technology. We must find a way to control the electron beams through computer interfaces, to allow us to create more than one nano device at once. Having a faster and more reliable lithography system will allow for more products to be mass manufactured. One other concern with any type of lithography is that it has many steps that must be done in order to ensure success of the product. This is another problem regarding mass production. In order to improve production with E-beam nanofabrication, we must be able to figure out a way to simplify the steps of the process.

Process of lithography

There are many alternative lithography methods designed to improve effectiveness of lithography. Researchers are working towards making lithography and the manufacturing of nanosensors a less serial process. Having many steps in order to create a product can be problematic. In addition, it is hard to make products at such a small scale. In the future, the advancement of nanotechnology tactics will allow for improvement in the functionality of these sensors, as well as simpler processes to create them. In order to create uprising technologies, such as cancer detecting nanosensors, we need to improve our lithography methods. We must educate ourselves and our youth in order to improve the process of nanofabrication. Nanosensors are the key to helping dangerous medical diseases like cancer.

Cancer is the second leading cause of medical death in the world. The cure has not yet been found. It is absolutely necessary we invest our time and knowledge into studying nanotechnology, because the future relies on it. In order to fix the issues of nanofabrication we must educate ourselves and the upcoming generations of people, in order to train them to fix the world’s problems. We must understand the process of nanofabrication in order to help make it more effective. After reading and researching about this topic I want to talk to a nanotechnology professional. Learning from someone skilled and educated in nanotechnology, specifically nanofabrication, will allow me to learn about the topic from a very reliable source. In order to make these sensors useful in the future, we need to develop better ways to make them today. The only way to develop new, better ways is to bring the topic to light and involve other people.

People need to realize what their true potential is. We need to show them that innovators like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were just regular people before they created some of the greatest advancements. Everyday new advancements in technology are made.These are regular people who are determined to make a difference. In order to revise nanotechnology, we need to create logically driven people who can work together to solve problems like nanofabrication. By bringing these issues to light, people can work towards the solutions.

There are countless places where you can gather information on nanotechnology, nanofabrication and nanosensors. Nanotechnology is a step towards saving our planet and the people who live on it. Remember, you, like the billions of other people, can make a difference, but it is your choice whether or not you chose take a chance and try.

Now that you know about what nanosensors are and how they are useful in medical advancements (such as the cure to cancer), be sure to check out the following resources to learn more! In order to help find solutions to nanofabrication, we need people to understand what it is, and how different nanosensors function.

Hopefully, we can work together to progress the development and research of nanofabrication. We need to find ways to make nano products easier to design and build.

Article Prepared by Ollala Corp

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