What Was The Most Important Breakthrough In Nanotechnology In 2018?

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What was the most important breakthrough in nanotechnology in 2018? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Nathan Donahue, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering, on Quora:

As a young field, one single research endeavor does not encompass the whole scientific corpus of nanotechnology. To that end (and in my opinion), nanotechnology can be divided into three sub-fields that directly impact: computer science, materials science, and the biological sciences. The following examples are among the biggest accomplishments in the respective nano-related fields in 2018.

In the world of nanotechnology with computational applications, one of the biggest accomplishments was the study of plasmon dissipation across graphene[1] The greater significance of their work outlines specific parameters that are responsible for transmitting optical signals at the nano-scale. This is huge for scientists who are seeking to improve sensor technologies data transfer processes!

In the realm of nanomaterials, a team of researchers harnessed sunlight to purify water [2]. By using a “hierarchically nanostructured gel”, they exploited solar energy to distill water at a record rate of 18–23 liters per hour per square meter! As water becomes a coveted commodity with our growing global population, the importance of such advancements cannot be overstated.

Last but certainly not least, this year in bio-nanotechnology, researchers were able to examine the efficacy of a nanoparticle vaccine for influenza [3][4]. The nanoparticle vaccine successfully elicited strong antibody responses against the virus in patients who received the formulation. In fact, such clinical success led to the efficacy trial of their “trivalent nanoparticle influenza vaccine” this flu season (2018–2019). Perhaps similar formulations with different antigens can be used to develop potent vaccines against other viruses.

In conclusion, nanotechnology is a vast scientific discipline that spans many areas. There have been great strides and “breakthroughs” in all facets of nanotechnology this year. Here’s to 2019!

Footnotes

[1] Fundamental limits to graphene plasmonics

[2] Highly efficient solar vapour generation via hierarchically nanostructured gels

[3] Improved Titers against Influenza Drift Variants with a Nanoparticle Vaccine | NEJM

[4] Evaluation of the Safety and Immunogenicity of a Recombinant Trivalent Nanoparticle Influenza Vaccine With Matrix M-1 Adjuvant (NanoFlu) – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov

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