Nanotechnology is the use of ultra-precision machines to control and manipulate atoms and molecules (Ratner 22). Microscopes are used to observe individual molecules which are later manipulated to make materials with enhanced properties. The materials are created at a nanoscale level in order to enhance their properties. Materials made using the nanotechnology have a greater chemical reactivity and high strength. The strength of nanotechnology based products is attributed to the strong molecular structures built from the bottom to the top (Ratner 22). Nanomachines with high precision manipulate molecules to produce high performance products. The nano-scale technology is very popular in many manufacturing companies because of its ability to produce products with superior properties. This paper will highlight the implications of the growth of the nanotechnology sector in the UK.
The discovery of nanotechnology has increased the competition for commercial products at the global stage (Shelley 34). Nanotechnology has played a critical role in addressing some of the manufacturing challenges that the world has been struggling with for a very long time (Standage 30). The nanotechnology industry in the UK has the potential to grow due to UK’s collaboration with other countries that are doing well in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology has the potential to create a lot of employment opportunities and at the same time promote wealth creation (Shelley 43). Nanotechnology has enhanced the production of high performance products that have led to competition in the manufacturing sector. The market for nanotechnology based products has grown over the last ten years and the majority of UK companies are shifting to nanotechnology (Kohler 56). Nanotechnology has led to the manufacturing of advanced products but there are still some challenges that need to be overcome. The UK government has continued to invest heavily in nanotechnology to show how serious it is in promoting the new technology.
Ethical Issues in Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology has brought revolution in key sectors such as manufacturing and medicine (Kohler 56). Environmental conservation efforts have also been boosted by nanotechnology through recycling, toxin cleanup and resource consumption reduction. Despite the numerous benefits associated with nanotechnology, there are some potential dangers associated with the technology (Johnson 76). The assemblers used in nanotechnology can be used to create dangerous weapons that endanger the lives of people. Although nanotechnology can be used to create surveillance equipment, there is a high possibility that some people can use the technology to make weapons of mass destruction. The misuse of nanotechnology paints a negative picture to the gains brought by the technology (Johnson 57). General purpose disassemblers can destroy all physical and biological molecules in the environment if there are no control mechanisms in place. The process of miniaturizing guns and electronic components used to make missiles does not meet the ethical expectations of nanotechnology (Sparks 67).
The surveillance systems created by nanotechnology have led to the interference of people’s privacy and freedom (Sparks 69). People can use molecular-sized tracking and monitoring devices to track others. It is very important to assess the potential dangers of nanotechnology before deciding to use it (Brune 34). Solutions to potential ethical issues related to nanotechnology should be formulated before companies start using the technology. The damaging effects of nanotechnology can only be minimized by creating the right policies. The ethics of developing nanotechnology equipment and machines should be examined thoroughly to ensure that the technology does not interfere with the fundamental rights of human beings (Brune 46). The complex molecular machines created by nanotechnology can be catastrophic or of great benefit to the society. The misuse of nanotechnology is a great hindrance to its development. It has been a great challenge to synchronize the principles of all the players in the nanotechnology industry (Brune 48). The UK government controls the nanotechnology research agenda and this has led to the emergence of professional issues (Thaodore 122). The enforcement of legal and policy issues regarding nanotechnology is also another problem because its development takes place in different fields.
Companies and individuals who use nanotechnology should follow all the ethical principles governing its use (Thaodore 123). Some engineers and scientists have become blasphemous by claiming to have the ability to create things like God by using nanotechnology. Scientists assemble beef using nanotechnology and claim that there is no need to slaughter cows (Jurgen 99). The same group of scientists also claims that there is no need for reproduction since they can construct cells using nanotechnology. Some of the ethical issues affecting nanotechnology can be resolved by establishing strict guidelines to govern the design of nanomachines and devices. Designers should avoid creating general purpose nanomachines and at the same time consider using natural compounds as fuel for the nanomachines (Jurgen 99). The unification of nanotechnology research and development is another way of ensuring there is some consensus when it comes to nanotechnology issues. Some behaviors from nanomachines are potentially dangerous and should therefore be prevented to avoid unnecessary accidents. Stopping the general development of nanotechnology is not a good option because of the crucial role that nanotechnology plays in modern technological advancement (Allhoff 78). Governments and companies should come up with policies and regulations that will completely discourage the use of nanotechnology for wrong reasons. The development of nanotechnology depends on the ability of researchers to come up with findings that do not interfere with the rights and freedoms of people (Allhoff 79).
The Interaction of Nanotechnology and Society
The interaction of nanotechnology and the society can not be avoided in any way because the society depends on nanotechnology based products (Faunce 125). The negative effects of nanotechnology instill fear in members of the society because there is always a possibility of nanotechnology misuse. The safety and privacy of people is under threat because of the dangerous weapons and tracking gadgets made using nanotechnology (Faunce146). The society benefits a great deal from nanotechnology because the technology tends to have a positive environmental impact. It is important to note that the correct use of nanotechnology comes with a lot of benefits to the society (Faunce 147). All the policies and ethical standards that guide the design of nanomachichines should be fully enforced to ensure that the technology has a positive impact in the society.
Funding Models of Research and Development
The United Kingdom has taken vital steps towards ensuring that nanotechnology becomes commercial through research and development (Auplat 19). The growth of nanotechnology has been slow in the UK due to lack of awareness and certainty on the potential benefits of nanotechnology (Auplat 20). The UK government has come up with various funding models to facilitate research and development in nanotechnology (Bainbridge 34). The UK government has invested heavily in nanotechnology to enhance research and development. The UK government funds nanotechnology research activities through the Institute of Nanotechnology (Ozin 28). Interdisciplinary research is very important in resolving all the ethical and professional issues affecting nanotechnology. Nanotechnology funding in UK is still very low compared to America and other European countries. The Seventh Framework Program is a fund set aside by the UK government to fund nanotechnology research and development (Ozin 28). The other bodies that fund research and development in nanotechnology include the ENIAC and ARTEMIS Joint Technology Initiatives (Ozin 29).
The Health and Environmental Impact of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology has got both positive and negative impacts when it comes to health and environmental issues (Ramsden 36). Nanotechnology is very useful in the manufacture of food products that have a high nutritional value. Nanotechnology facilitates clean and efficient manufacturing with minimum environmental pollution (Standage 78). This ensures that water supplies remain clean and sustainable. The health of people in the UK has subsequently been improved by enhanced drugs and organic replacement machines produced by nanotechnology (Ramsden 36). The mobility and reactivity of nanomaterials can be harmful to the lives of people and the environment. Some of the nanoparticles are very hazardous and can lead to nanopollution (Sabatini 71). Research has proved that free nanoparticles have a certain level of toxicity that can be dangerous to the workers in manufacturing plants that use nanotechnology. The human body takes up nanomaterials very easily because they are small in size. Some of the nanomaterials are poisonous and have the potential to affect the health of human beings in a negative way (Sabatini 72).
The nanoparticles consumed by the human body can affect the biological processes in the body because they attach themselves on the surface of macromolecules that facilitate some biological processes within the human body (Frewer 58). The waste from industries that use nanomaterials can cause harm to animals and plants because they freely float in the air. Nanoparticles from manufacturing companies are therefore harmful to the environment. Nanofiltration has been very helpful in removing contaminants from industrial waste (Frewer 58). Magnetic nanoparticles are very useful in cleaning waste water without spending a lot of money. Solar and fuel cells are fundamental sources of clean energy produced by nanotechnology. Clean energy reduces the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the process reducing global warming (Bainbridge 146). The impact of nanotechnology on health and environment is both positive and negative in equal measure. There should be some government regulations to control the negative effects of nanotechnology on health and environment (Bainbridge 148).
Examples of Nanotechnology Companies in UK
The number of nanotechnology companies in the UK has significantly gone up due to the high demand for nanotechnology based products (Faunce 111). Advanced Hall Sensors is a UK company that makes adaptive magnetic sensors using nanotechnology. The sensors produced by this company combine different sensor characteristics that make them to be very versatile (Faunce 111). Adaptive magnetic sensors are very different from the traditional sensors that have been in the market for a very long time. The AFE Technology Coatings Company is another nanotechnology company that manufactures thin film optical fibers and coatings (Ramsden 65). The optical fibers are very useful in high precision optical applications. The products from AFE Technology Coatings are very useful in instrumentation and telecommunications. Laser and high performance optical displays used in the medical sector are some of the high performance equipment manufactured by AFE Technology Coatings (Ramsden 116). Analytical Nano Technologies is another successful nanotechnology company in the UK that has promoted research in nanotechnology especially when it comes to environmental conservation. The diagnostics manufactured by Analytical Nano Technologies detect biochemical discharges in the environment (Sparks 113). The company conducts a lot of strategic research to ensure that the biochemical detection systems it develops are reliable and sustainable (Standage 49). Some of the biochemical compounds that can be detected by these biochemical detection systems include estrogen steroids, enzymes and dioxins. Discharges from industries can be harmful to the environment because of their hazardous nature (Sparks 114). The majority of UK nanotechnology companies aim at producing high performance products that are user friendly and less harmful to the environment.
Nanotechnology has led to the production of high performance products by manufacturing companies in the UK and other countries across the world. It is important for the UK government and companies to put in place policies and regulations that guard against the unethical use of nanotechnology (Brune 64). Nanotechnology should not be used to endanger the lives of people and at the same time deny them their privacy. The government and other stakeholders in the technology sector should consult members of the society on all matters regarding nanotechnology to avoid conflicts of interest between industry players and the society (Jurgen 42). The UK government has embarked on massive promotion of nanotechnology because it is the key to technological advancement and wealth creation (Jurgen 42). The negative impact of nanotechnology on health and environment can be regulated by policies and guidelines that promote the ethical use of nanotechnology.
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