12. 6. 2009 - Nanotechnology and some examples of its application in the living organism

Nanotechnology is a frequently used word. A number of disciplines such as chemistry, physics, electronics, mechanics, as well as medicine and pharmacology is concerned. The common base of the name is the word nanos, which in Greek means a dwarf. It is already clear that the rapidly developing science has something to do with small things. But our expression „small“, „tiny", in this connection is still inadequate. The nanoparticles are thought to be structures of a size from 1 to 100 nanometers, which is 1 to 100 billionths of a meter.

04Nanoworld is a world of atoms, molecules and simple compounds. But the size is not just the only thing that matters. In this world, different patterns and relationships apply. It is controlled by powers other than those which apply in our known macroworld, where the essential roles play gravity, inertia, strength, etc. Pursuant to these laws only, we judge the events around us. We can well explain why for example badly-built building crashes down, or why the started train runs by inertia for many miles ahead. But we wonder why the drop of water, fly, or even some kinds of lizards stick to the ceiling, as if gravity did not apply for them. Even the normal findings such as the water-repellency of leaves of certain plants or fruits surprise us. All this makes us think, what forces are applied? It is now known that bacteria use nanoparticles of magnetite, which like a magnetic needle, lead them in a northerly direction. Elsewhere, they are small attractive and repulsive forces multiplied by the vast surfaces of small bodies - nanowires and nanoparticles, which are so manifested.

In examining relationships in this area today extraordinary attention is paid not only to physics and chemistry, but especially to the natural sciences. In this context, it should be emphasized that our organism offers a lot of examples of "nanotechnological" procedures.  Nobel Prize Winner for Quantum Electrodynamics, R.P.Feynman said: “Nature has been working at the level of atoms and molecules for millions of years, so why do we not?“

Since his call in a lecture in 1959, nanotechnology has made tremendous progress; not only in technical disciplines, but also in medicine and in pharmaceutics. New nano-based diagnostic methods were introduced; polymer nanofibers, various nanoparticles for drugs targeting transport, and carbon nanotubes, etc have been produced for the needs of medicine.

Nanotechnology offers tremendous progress not only in efficiency but also in the safety of substances administered. It is long known that the administration of larger doses may not achieve greater effect. Conversely, with many low-soluble natural substances, the desired effect can be achieved, even for a long period. Let’s use the same principles as nature and use nanotechnology to help us.

Author: Doc. Ing. Václav Kotrbáček, CSc.