Mankind has used nanotechnology and hundreds of thousands of years ago, but has no idea about this. The ancient Egyptians and Romans, the Maya Indians, the medieval masters of Europe received the materials consisting of ordered nanoparticles, which gave them an unusual quality.
For example, the famous Maya blue paint, which retained its brightness to the present day, was obtained by mixing particles of the organic (wood indigo) and inorganic (clay) origin. Organic dyes are generally easily destroyed, but in this case the alliance with inorganic nanostructures provided them with a good defense.
When mixing the particles of indigo "Embedded" in nanostructured particles of phyllosilicates, which provided a gorgeous, lasting blue pigment paintings and ceramic materials. Spanish scientists found that by mixing clay palygorskita (paligorskita) with indigo dye formed as small amounts of nano-structured iron oxide. They were found in all samples of paint in an amount of 0.5 percent. It is believed that they give the strength of staining, so despite the rudimentary technology and 1,300-year-old age painting maya still shine with the splendor of blue.
But before maya nanokrasku used by Egyptians. A research team led by Philip Walter of the Centre for Research and Restoration of the French Museums proved that the Egyptians were prepared for dyeing her hair black. First, a paste made from lime, lead oxide and a small amount of water. In the process of mixing nanoparticles obtained galena (lead sulfide) up to five nanometers. Natural hair color is black melanin pigment ensures that as inclusions distributed keratin. The ink pasta reacted with sulfur, which is part of keratin, and provide a uniform and stable color. In this process affects only the hair and the scalp lead compounds do not penetrate.
Were made in ancient times and hard nanomaterials. In Rome, the master made the famous Lycurgus Cup around the IV century BC. In daylight, it is opaque and has a green color. But if the light source is placed inside the walls of the cup are transparent and red. It turned out that these changes are responsible for the nanoparticles of gold and silver that are part of the material ranging in size from 50 to 100 nanometers.
Another interesting example of the use of nanotechnology in antiquity — is to create stained glass cathedrals of medieval Europe. Shades obtained by heating and cooling glass. What is not known medieval masters, so it is that through this process they change the size of the crystals and, therefore, their color at the nanoscale. Scientists believe that the stained glass windows were not only works of art but also a photocatalytic air purifier removes organic contamination. The catalyst is a gold nanoparticles that retain their ability to now. Tiny particles of gold on the surface of the glass under sunlight becomes excited and destroy organic contaminants.
Forged from Damascus steel swords still have an excellent reputation. First introduced to Europe in the collision Bulat army of Alexander the Great and the troops of Indian king's time. Very solid-resistant steel blade razor sliced through the hair on the fly. Recent scientific studies have shown the existence of the Dresden University of carbon nanotubes in the steel, which are formed using a special forging process. Analysis of the sample were dissolved in hydrochloric acid, the metal structure showed similarity with the carbon nanotubes. They were formed by heating to 800 degrees Celsius of hydrocarbons within the micropores of the catalyst and can serve as vanadium, chromium, manganese, cobalt, nickel, and some rare earth metals contained in the ore. Cyclic mechanical processing (forging) and the corresponding temperature regime gradually distributed carbon nanotubes in a plane parallel to the plane of the forging, making fine-grained microstructure of the steel and plate.
Secrets of these and other industries passed from generation to generation, but the cause of the unique properties of materials have not been studied. It was only after the development of the science of nanotechnology, scientists were able to explain them. The prefix "nano" means one billionth of a whole. Nanotechnology include the creation and use of materials, equipment, and technical systems, the functioning of which is determined by the nanostructure, ie, it ordered fragments ranging in size from one to one hundred nanometers (a nanometer — one billionth of a meter).
Home conscious work in the field of nanotechnology associated with the name of the Nobel Prize Richard Feynman, who in 1959 read a lecture to his colleagues and described the first ideas underlying nanotechnology. "I would describe the area in which very little has been done, but which has great prospects and technical application. I want to talk about the problem of manipulating and controlling the particles are extremely small scale. I can not know exactly what will happen, but I have no doubt, that if we find a way to control these particles, we get access to a wide range of properties that these materials can be, and we can do incredible things, "- said Feinman.
However, even though he brilliantly foresaw the future, took decades to create tools that enable today to watch, create and manage materials at the nanoscale. Only in 1981 by G. Binnig and H. Rohrer was invented electronic scanning tunneling microscope (STM), with which the atoms can move. In 1986, these employees IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, received the Nobel Prize for his discovery. Modern electronic and atomic-force microscopes provide an increase of five million times. With the help of these devices has become possible to explore and explain the previously mysterious ancient properties of nanotechnology.
See also: The continent of Antarctica, archaeological finds.