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  • Writer's pictureBy Joy Santamarina

It’s mighty small!

Why are many businesses rethinking how they could benefit from Nanotech

Most of us buy and use everyday products without any thought as to what technologies are being used to produce them. For example, have you thought about why the sunscreen you use these days feels much lighter and softer than the thick, gloopy ones you used as a child? Or have you thought about how your waterproof clothes and other items achieved their texture? If you did, then the answer to these questions is none other than nanotechnology.

So what is nanotechnology? The simple definition is that nanotechnology (or nanotech, as it is often called) is the technology that allows the manipulation of materials with dimensions and tolerances of less than 100 nanometers.

The term nano literally means one billionth. So imagine looking at the world on such a tiny scale (even tinier than Ant-Man!) and creating, manipulating these to create new things. To put into the proper scale how small it is, the thickness of a sheet of paper or the width of a strand of your hair is about 100,000 nanometers.

This may sound like something straight out of a sci-fi novel, but the truth is, this technology has been with us for many years now.

The term nanotechnology was first used in 1974 by Norio Taniguchi, a Japanese researcher and professor. It gained more traction in the 2000s when the National Nanotechnology Initiative was created in the U.S., and the Royal Society published a report on the implications of nanotechnology. Like many technological advances, nanotech has been rapidly growing in recent years in its use and applications.

In its recent report, Brand Essence Research estimated that the nanotechnology market was valued at $1.4 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach almost $3 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 11.2 percent over the forecast period.

So what is causing nanotech to grow this much? What are the many uses of nanotech across various industries? Why are many businesses rethinking how they could benefit from this? Here are some key examples:

Everyday use: Aside from the sunscreen and waterproof clothes I already mentioned above, nanotech has many uses for everyday items. Upholstered furniture uses nanotech materials to not only make it waterproof and stain proof but also up to 35 percent less flammable if manufacturers add carbon nanofibers in the foam’s coating.

Another good example would be adhesives. While most adhesives lose their stickiness at high temperatures, a powerful “nano-glue” not only withstands but even gets stronger at high temperatures.

If you want to save your car from bird poop, a company called Nanorepel has created a super high-performing coat that can protect your car from this.

Medicine and health care: Among the many examples of the current use of nanotechnology, a Swiss med-tech startup called NanoGlue has created a paste that provides better healing for skin transplants and helps patients recover faster at less cost.

There is also a race among many biotech companies now to use nanoscale carrier systems for drugs. The intent is to deliver medicine faster and in a much more targeted and efficient way versus traditional injections and pills.

Electronics: The reason why computing power and electronics have been increasing exponentially over many years is that we’ve been able to create tiny, high-powered microprocessors. For example, a company called Nantero used carbon nanotubes to create powerful memory chips replacing high-density flash memory chips and can now meet big data demands. Intel, of course, is the leader in nanotech-powered chips, with its latest generation of core processors being a 10-nanometer chip.

These are just but a few examples of how nanotech can rapidly disrupt many industries sooner rather than later. It has moved quickly beyond the pages of science fiction to represent a threat and an opportunity for every industry.

Depending on how fast companies adopt nanotech, this small but mighty technology can make a run for your money.

Joy Santamarina is the chief transformation officer of Energy Development Corp. She has extensive experience across the APAC region in various sectors including FMCG, telecommunications, media, and technology industries. Send feedback to

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