The Future of Dentistry and Dental Care – How Nanotechnology Will Change Your Visits to the Dentist

Imagine going to the dentist 40 or 50 years from now? How do you picture your experience being like. Will people fear dentists in the future like we still do now? I imagine technology will one day create an evolution in this field the likes of which we have never seen before. For one I think people won’t even remember what a root canal is like by that time as nanotechnology will help us do away with that all together. I not only see dental experts creating fake teeth that look very real out of molecules but also making new nerve endings that have been damaged by serious gum disease. Nanotechnology will one day make our visits.

Now these things won’t be available to us for a while but there are also some very exciting technologies coming out in the field of dentistry now as researchers at the Clarkson Advanced materials Center Have found a way to use nanotech to help protect almost any teeth from catching the cavity bug. They are doing this by polishing teeth with silica that is made from nonoparticles and the reason why this new polishing technology protects teeth from cavity is that this material is 90,000 times smaller then a tiny grain of sand. This kind of find smoothness makes it almost impossible for the bad bacteria in our mouth to hang onto the teeth long enough to form plaque. Now I understand that silica particles have been used to polish our teeth but the reason why this is unprecedent is that they have never been used at the molecular level.

This technology should be available within the next 5 to 10 years so anyone that has problem or could have problems with their teeth in the future could have a lot of hope coming their way soon. Now as to when this kind of technology will be made affordable so that it can be mass marketed no one knows yet and that will depend on many factors such as when will they make the process of creating nanoparticles cheaper. Our government can speed up the process by allocating funds into mass creating nanoparticles at a cheaper rate.

Nanotechnology can also be used to create dental diagnostic material at a cheaper rate that will not only cost cheaper but will be made out of materials that will be much strong than what we have today and will last without breaking down. The future of dentistry has never been brighter.

Think small folks.

Nanotechnology – Good Career Choice

We have all witnessed that length scale has dropped from millimeters in 1950s to present day atomic scale. We have all seen benefits of Nanotechnology in miniaturization of microprocessors. Big mainframe computers have now been replaced with small PCs with IC chips. Medical profession has been the greatest beneficiary. This profession now has well developed technologies and equipment courtesy of Nanotechnology. With such advanced and precise instruments, doctors can invade deep in to human bodies and perform surgical operations with very little cuts leading to faster recoveries.

Nano-medicine in fact is a new term which has been coined to research and focus on the applications of this field in to medicine. Another area where the coming times will see a great breakthrough is development of cheaper solar cells. Presently solar technology has not become competitive because of prohibitive costs of Solar cells. Nano-science is expected to change the dynamics of solar cells market and lead to development of cheaper solar cells. Defense is another area which has reaped benefits of nano-science. Certain fabrics have been developed which are wrinkle free and can withstand the biological and chemical warfare with utmost ease.

Nanotechnology is going to be a major tool in universe’s fight with global warming. In India, there are several reputed institutes which have been offering postgraduate courses in Nano-science and nano technology. IITs and NITs are the major centers. In addition Amity and some private engineering colleges are also offering this course. Watch out for this career option. Nanotechnology is going to be a very popular course in the times to come.

Using Nanotechnology to Remove Blood Clots and Detect Cancer

Advances in nanotechnology are leading to dramatic new devices that can fundamentally improve our quality of life in the healthcare field. While the potential applications are easily understood, the truly unique aspect about Dr. Yong Shi’s research is his unparalleled ability to develop and control these materials.

Dr. Yong Shi at the Active Nanomaterials and Devices Lab at Stevens Institute of Technology is a nanotechnology expert who works towards introducing new materials that have unparalleled precision and efficiency. He has introduced patented piezoelectric (PZT) nanofibers consisting of lead zirconate titanate and is also advancing the study of piezoresistive or conductive (indium tin oxide or ITO), thermal electric (both bismuth telluride and complex oxides) and photovoltaic materials (titanium oxide or TiO2).

The applications of these nanofibers are tremendous. What is truly special about these piezoelectric nanofibers is their ability to efficiently convert vibration or acoustic energy into electricity (sensors), or to do the exact opposite – convert electricity into movement (actuators).

Working in the Micro Devices Lab shared facility at Stevens, Dr. Shi was the first to fabricate and control PZT fibers on the nanoscale – a process that results in unique mechanical and electrical properties.

By manipulating these principles, he creates devices that are both tiny (Nanotechnology refers to development on the atomic level – a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick) and can be maneuvered with precision, thus enabling amazing new technologies such as: tiny robots that navigate to the site of a blood clot in stroke therapy procedures and even monitor the vibrations involved in chemical bonding to detect cancer cells – all made possible through the application of Dr. Shi’s nanofibers and their specification as a sensor or actuator to determine functionality.

Stroke Therapy and the MEMS Umbrella-Shaped Actuator

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 143,000 lives per year. Caused by a blood clot which blocks an artery, or by the breakage of a blood vessel, strokes result in a lack of oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the brain, and can invoke brain damage and even death.

Dr. Shi is particularly interested in assisting stroke victims and has worked collaboratively with Dr. Sundeep Mangla and Dr. Ming Zhang of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in the development of a blood clot retriever using his patented PZT fibers that have unique piezoelectric properties resulting in movement (actuation) as a response to electrical stimuli.

This principle allows for creation of a MEMS Umbrella-shaped Actuator that is inserted via catheter into the lower body of a stroke patient. The operator (in most cases a medical doctor) can control the device through the application of varying electrical signals and the location can be monitored with MRI and CAT SCAN technology. Navigating up and through the arteries, the device will ultimately reach the location of the blood clot and proceed by applying a fine-tuned shear force to facilitate the separation of the blood clot from the wall of the vascular artery due to the shearing-thinning phenomenon, thus enabling complete retrieval while minimizing the risk of damage to the arteries.

Cancer Diagnostics

As the second leading cause of death in the United States, early detection of cancer is a critical step in recovery. The Active Nanomaterials and Devices Lab aims to distinguish between a cancer cell and a normal cell through the use of high frequency ultrasound. The PZT materials once again play a critical role in their ability to detect vibration patterns and disseminate critical knowledge. By monitoring the absorption and attenuation of the cells using a specific frequency ultrasound, Dr. Shi will be able to distinguish cancer cells from normal cells.

Yong Shi is involved in vital research with Dr. Jian Cao of Stony Brook University which will introduce novel diagnostics that improve existing diagnostic methods resulting in early detection and the ability to save lives. Dr. Shi brings an expert understanding of Nanotechnology device engineering, while Dr. Cao is a leader in molecular and cellular biology of cancer. According to Dr. Cao, this synergistic collaboration will bridge the gap between basic science and translational research.

Their collaboration has led to recent government funding for the development of a device that will be used to detect the spread of breast cancer cells in circulation. This device will eventually be used for clinical diagnostics to determine the possible spread of breast cancer. In addition to improving the medical care for cancer diagnostics, technology innovations led by Dr. Shi and Dr. Cao will drastically reduce medical costs and enable greater care for a larger majority of patients.

Conclusion

As the first to fabricate and control PZT nanofibers as well as introduce further advancements in ITO nanofibers, Dr. Shi has uncovered an incredibly effective method of operating and powering mechanical devices. He does this through the application of an electrical potential, which creates movement (actuators) or receives information based on vibration, thermal or acoustic energy (sensors). This technology is dramatically increasing the efficiency of many groundbreaking disciplines including:

The development of a device that can actually remove a blood clot in the case of a stroke and monitor and diagnose cancer like never before with dramatically reduced costs to the patient.

As an entrepreneur Dr. Shi is also an innovator at bringing technology to the marketplace. He has instilled an environment consistent with the Technogenesis™ mission and encourages the application of research ideas to commercial solutions. One of Dr. Shi’s graduate students, Shi you Xu, explains further, Nanotechnology is currently a ‘hot’ research area, and most of it is on the scientific level. The unique aspect of our lab is Dr. Shi’s willingness to develop working devices that have the potential to be commercialized. We have seen this with nano piezoelectric generators and sensing devices, and are excited about future prototype developments.