UPSC Prelims 2020 Important topics: Carbon Nanotubes

How the extremely high length-to-diameter ratio of Carbon Nanotubes makes them special material? Assess their potential applications in public health sector. Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure.  Carbon nanotubes have varied structures, differing in length, thickness, and number of layers. The characteristics of nanotubes can be different depending on how the grapheme sheet has rolled up to form the tube.

The nanotube’s structure allows it to be used as a container for transporting a drug in the body. A molecule of the drug can be placed inside the nanotube cage. This keeps the drug ‘wrapped up’ until it reaches the site where it is needed. In this way, a dose that might be damaging to other parts of the body can be delivered safely to, for example, a tumour.

Single-walled carbon nanotubes covalently functionalized with polytyrosine: a new material for the development of NADH-based biosensors. .
This material has exceptional strength and stiffness and due to this, carbon nanotubes with length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1 have been constructed. This is significantly larger than for any other material and makes basis of various applications of Carbon Nanotubes. Some important applications of the carbon nanotube in the field of medicine are as follows:

  • Carbon nanotubes for chemotherapy and drug delivery: Carbon nanotubes used in drug delivery can result in drug efficiency and reduced off-target tissue toxicity.
  • Carbon nanotubes for gene therapy:  Effects of gene therapy are limited by the efficiencies of transfection and system delivery. Since Carbon nanotubes are able to penetrate cells, they are used for gene delivery
  • Carbon nanotubes for stem cell related therapies: attempts to design and develop different CNT based tools and devices for tissue engineering and stem cell therapy applications.
  • Carbon nanotubes for thermal destruction of tumors
  • Arteries Expansion: TO remove blockages in the blood vessels.

With rigorous attempts carbon nanotubes have the ability to address various issues related to human health.

NASA has successfully demonstrated a miniaturized electronics technology for in-vitro detecting specific biomarker signatures, which is based on incorporating embedded vertically aligned carbon nanotubes…in diagnostics devices.

Recently, it has been demonstrated that functionalized carbon nanotubes can be degraded by oxidative enzymes.

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