Careers in Nanomaterials

What are Nanomaterials?

Nanomaterials are substances or materials that are manufactured and used at a, as the name suggests, very small scale. ISO (2015) defines a nanomaterial as a ‘material with any external dimension in the nanoscale (size range from approximately 1 – 100 nm) or having internal structure or surface structure in the nanoscale’.

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Why are they important?

Nanomaterials are the most recent and most exciting development in materials science. Nanoscale materials have unique optical, electronic, or mechanical properties. Thus, when compared to the same material which is not at a nanoscale, they show more optimal performance measured typically in strength, chemical reactivity or conductivity.

What are the industry applications of nanomaterials?

The scope, unlike the size of nanomaterials, is massive:

  • Better building insulation,

  • More energy efficiency,

  • Better batteries,

  • Better cosmetics,

  • Nimble automobiles, aircraft, ships, spacecraft

…..there is nothing nano about the potential for nanomaterials and nanotechnology. There is every possibility that this field will touch just about every industry that exists today and will even create new and unthought of applications.

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Who is the field relevant for?

Considering that we have only just begun to understand the scope of development and application of nanomaterials, the future for this field is bright.

The kind of backgrounds required for this field could include:

  • Engineers,

  • Material Scientists, and

  • Physics, Chemistry, and Biology graduates.

However, nanoscience is essentially interdisciplinary wherein science is applied to engineering and hence a holistic mindset/approach is needed.

What are the career prospects?

As mentioned, the industries requiring this expertise are extremely diverse. Currently, nanomaterials have seen significant adoption in sectors like:

  • Electronics,

  • Textiles,

  • Polymers,

  • Packaging,

  • Transportation,

  • Sporting goods,

  • Computing,

  • Medical equipment,

  • Forensics,

  • Military, and

  • Energy, among others.

According to the widely followed recruiter.com, salaries in the USA range between $45,000 and $73,000 for nanotechnology engineering technicians. Needless to say, as use of nanomaterials expands engineers with significant experience can see their salaries grow significantly in the coming years, more so since demand will outstrip supply of candidates.

How do I get started?

The pathway starts from an undergraduate degree in engineering or sciences with a focus on specific courses in nanotechnology, nanomaterial, or nanoscience. Alternatively, with the growth of nanoscience in India several universities including SRM AP offer undergrad and masters courses with specialisation in nanotechnology. This can be coupled with the many options available at the PhD level in this exciting field.

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