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September 17, 2015

5 out of this world nanotechnologies driving future IoT

Internet of Nano Things: Nanotechnology will reshape healthcare but also help keep “things” on all the time.

By Joao Lima

Nanotechnology is one of science’s biggest developments and recent advances in this space have unveiled what nano solutions could bring into the IoT space.

CBR lists five nano technologies that are helping the IoNT become a reality.

1. Nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes are a nanotechnology constructed with a length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1.

Uses of the solution span from incorporation in portable electronics to help fighting against cancer and creating artificial muscles.

A team of scientists from the University of Texas (UT), the University of British Columbia, University of Wollongong and Hanyang University, led by UT engineer Ray Baughman, has come up with a solution in 2013 that opened ways for the creation of artificial muscles using carbon nanotubes.

Artificial muscles are materials that can change their shape in response to stimulus. Applications of the technology could include fighting oil spills but scientists are mainly focused in using nanotubes inside the human body, more precisely in blood veins.

2. Stretchable electronics

Recent rumours about Samsung’s 2016 foldable smartphone launch could soon be overshadowed in the future by a resistant, stretchy mobile phone.

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Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed what they call "stretchable gold", a nanotechnology that can bend and allow for multiple IoT applications not only in the mobile phone space, but also in the retail and healthcare sectors.

Engineering researcher Ingrid Graz told io9 that stretchable electronics is a new evolution of electronics. "The idea behind is to create electronic devices that can be rolled, flexed, deformed and even stretch like a rubber band."

To enable stretchable electronics, Graz explained that she has used rubber such as silicone coated with a very thin layer of gold. The gold serves as stretchable conductor and can be elongated to twice its original length without electrical failure.

3. Bleeding plastic

Scientists have also developed a bleeding plastic with self-healing capabilities that could put an end to nearly everything getting broken, including cars, airplanes or everyday devices.

Professor and director at the University of Southern Mississippi Marek W. Urban, said at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in 2012 that "Mother Nature has endowed all kinds of biological systems with the ability to repair themselves".

"Our new plastic tries to mimic nature, issuing a red signal when damaged and then renewing itself when exposed to visible light, temperature or pH changes."

The thermoplastic solution can also be heated up and suffer alterations in its shape and form to repair an object that has been broken.

4. Nano-nodes

Nano-nodes are nanomachines with the capability to perform simple computatio, but could be used in the future to make nearly every object and person connected to the internet.

In a whitepaper from IEEE Wireless Communications, Ian Akyildiz and Josep Jornet from the Georgia Institute of Technology explained that nano-nodes have limited memory, and can only transmit over very short distances, mainly because of their reduced energy and limited communication capabilities.

The two researchers added that biological nanosensor nodes inside the human body and nanomachines with communication capabilities integrated in all types of things such as books, keys, or paper folders are good examples of nano-nodes applications.

For example, nano-nodes placed inside someone’s body would communicate to a nano-router. All the nano-routers placed in the body then communicate to a nano-micro interface via nano-links.

Once the information reaches the nano-micro interface, this will communicate with the "outside" world to a gateway and that gateway links to the internet. Once the data reaches the internet, it could be sent to a GP to track a health problem or given to research proposes.

5. Nanoantennas

Nanoantennas are a new emerging technology that could help power wearables, smarten up buildings or keep lights on.

In 2008, researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory developed flexible nanoantenna arrays that have the ability to absorb solar energy. Researchers explained that future applications of the technology could include powering up hybrid cars to any other everyday devices with a better efficiency rate than traditional solar cells.

Other nanoantennas’ applications include cooling down devices that draw waste heat from buildings or electronics without using electricity.

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