Nanotechnology: Managing Molecules for Modern Medicine

  • Russell J. AndrewsEmail author


Although “nanotechnology” simply means technology at the scale of the nanometer (nm) – one billionth (10−9) of a meter – implementation of the concept of constructing materials molecule by molecule or atom by atom can be quite challenging. Yet increasingly we realize that the functions of the human body in both health and disease require analyses at the nano-level for true understanding. Bacteria, viruses, and DNA are tens of nanometers in size; red blood cells, neurons, and the smallest blood vessels (capillaries) are tens of microns (one micron = 1000 nanometers) in size. Obviously the instruments used in hospitals for medical diagnosis and treatment depend on computer technologies engineered at the nano-level; in this chapter, several nano-level materials and techniques are considered to provide some insight into the breadth of nanotechnology involved in several aspects of modern medical diagnosis and treatment:
  1. 1.

    Nanotechnologies for inexpensive point-of-care (POC) testing

  2. 2.

    Wearable devices for real-time continuous diagnosis and therapy, as well as energy harvesting

  3. 3.

    Nanoparticles to enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy (RT)

  4. 4.

    Nanotechnology to enhance the brain-machine interface (BMI) for precision monitoring and modulating of brain electrochemical activity


Although it is impossible to provide even a cursory review of the myriad present applications of nanotechnology for medical diagnosis and treatment in a single chapter – much less nanotechnologies on the horizon for health care in the foreseeable future – the reader should come away with a notion of the potential of such nanotechniques to enhance health care, from prevention to diagnosis to treatment.


Brain-machine interface Nanobiotechnology Nanoparticles Nanosensors Point-of-care testing Radiation therapy Wearable nanodevices 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nanotechnology & Smart SystemsNASA Ames Research CenterMoffett FieldUSA

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