Two teenagers discover new application of nanotechnology that can help make everyday life easier

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Alicia Chan and Aileen Bachtiar conducted extensive nanotechnology research. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Although relatively little-known in Indonesia, nanotechnology can provide many interesting benefits that can help make everyday life easier for people living today and in the future. Nanotechnology is a technology that is measured in nanoscale—with nano meaning ‘one billionth’ smaller—as well as possessing nano or atom-sized material properties. A nanosized material will allow it to be imbued with extraordinary new properties.

Nanotechnology’s low utilization in Indonesia does not stop two teenagers from Indonesia, Alicia Chan (15) and Aileen Bachtiar (16), both grade 11 students at Jakarta Intercultural School, from making an exciting new breakthrough. Alicia and Aileen conducted extensive nanotechnology research while attending a 21-day summer school program in July 2019 at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. Today (8/2) at @America, Pacific Place Mall, South Jakarta, they presented their findings on nanotechnology that can be applied in property and food.

“Ever since I was a child, I was always interested in science and researching new things. Indonesia is a country rich in natural resources, but the fact remains that many of its citizens are living in poverty. In addition, technological developments in Indonesia are still far behind that of its neighboring countries. I really felt this huge gap in technology usage during my stay at Columbia University, even though we know that the use of technology can really help people’s lives,” said Alicia.

While studying at Columbia University, one research subject caught Alicia’s attention: Superhydrophobicity, or the process of creating a waterproof surface on an object. Her research on superhydrophobicity has successfully produced the superhydrophobicity coating spray, which, if sprayed on an object, will cause it to have nano-texture similar to a lotus leaf. This technique is known as Biomimicry, where the characteristics of the organism (in this case, the lotus) are imitated to improve everyday life. The superhydrophobicity coating spray can be applied to any surface, such as roofs, to make it leak-proof.

“I picked the ‘self-assembling monolayer’ concept during my research with the goal of making a surface so waterproof that not even a tiny drop of water can penetrate, just like the surface of Teflon. Through experimenting with this concept, I hope to provide an easy and convenient solution for people with leaking roofs in their homes. Aside from being practical and effective, this technology can last for a very long time,” added Alicia.

Meanwhile, Aileen Bachtiar—who has a lifelong interest in food and beverage—has found an alternative option to wine preservatives called Silver Nanoparticles. While studying nanotechnology at the University of Pennsylvania, Aileen was amazed by the potential application of nanotechnology in the food industry.

“I did a lot of research and finally started my own wine fermentation research. I learned that Sulfite, which is commonly used as wine preservatives, has long-term harmful effects on health such as hypotension and bronchospasm. The aim of my research is to find an alternative wine preservative solution that can serve as an effective substitute to sulfite, with none of its harmful health effects. What’s great about Silver Nanoparticles is that they possess antibacterial properties that can kill harmful germs during the wine fermentation process,” said Aileen.

The Silver Nanoparticles solution (made from silver ions) has other food and beverage-related uses, such as in food packaging to increase the shelf life of food. If used medically, the nanoparticles also allow for easier absorption of drugs by the human body. Research has also determined that Silver Nanoparticles are safe for consumption.

From Alicia and Aileen’s research, it has been proven that nanotechnology is very beneficial for everyday life due to its ability to enhance various fields. The application of this technology will certainly provide more value to human life. (*/est)