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Nanotechnology: The Science Behind Iron Man’s New Armor

This is for the education on a rapidly evolving technology.


      Science fiction often becomes science fact.  We’ve seen this inspire generations of science fiction writers. It also led to the inspiration for many great inventions. For a current example of this we may turn to the developing technology of nanorobotics. For those who don’t know, nanorobotics is a new technology focused on miniscule robots, often a small as a centimeter. This technology has been evolving for years, getting smaller and smaller as the technology advances. This technology may have multiple applications in many fields such as medicine, structural engineering, and 3d printing (Penntoday). But the one thing many of you, especially if you’re a nerd like myself, is the nanobots from Iron Man’s suit in Avengers 4.

To understand just how Tony Stark’s latest wardrobe update works, let’s look at what he says about the technology. He states that the nanobots are stored in the Arc Reactor-like device on his chest. When he needs them, they expand out around him, covering him head to toe in a full body suit of advanced technology and weaponry. This means that the armor is likely made out of a large amount of 2-d materials, which are said to be the perfect materials for nanorobotics (phys.org). One such 2-d material is graphene,  a highly conductive material capable of conducting large amounts of energy. Graphene is a good candidate for Mr. Stark’s armor due to the nature of it’s weaponry. The laser and repulsors he uses fire off large amounts of energy, which could easily be controlled by a substance like graphene. The suit also would theoretically have to contain a large amount of these nanorobots. Or it could just generate them. Although it would be very loosely based on this new technology, a Seattle-based startup has figured how to use nanotechnology to “grow” metal (Fortune). It is possible that Iron Man’s armor had similar technology, using the device to make the nanobots instead of storing them. Although, if this is true, that would mean it takes a long time to generate them because as we saw in the movies, Iron Man was ultimately beaten by Thanos because Iron Man’s armor was stripped away bit by bit.

This technology is rapidly advanced in ways that can benefit mankind in several fields. Research is being done in fields like medicine to combat diseases and fix injuries. It also is being used to reduce time, energy, and materials needed to build certain structures that would otherwise to be too expensive or time consuming to create. They could even act as miniature 3-d printers, disassembling and reassembling to create any object we could need. This could mean a revolution in how create and build. The entire construction industry could be revolutionized by this technology. Skyscrapers, cars, boats, all of what we use could be improved upon in some way or another by nanotechnology. One day we may even wear suits made of it that are designed to fit to our forms. While advancements still need to be made, we may soon see the beginning of the Nanotechnological Revolution.


“This Startup Can Grow Metal like a Tree, and It’s about to Hit the Big Time.” Fortune, Fortune, fortune.com/2015/08/25/grow-metal-like-a-tree.

“Tackling Blindness with Nanotechnology.” Penn Today, penntoday.upenn.edu/news/tackling-blindness-nanotechnology.

“A Treasure Trove for Nanotechnology Experts.” Phys.org – News and Articles on Science and Technology, m.phys.org/news/2018-03-treasure-trove-nanotechnology-experts.html.

“NANO Future Technologies Medicine Concept. Medicine Nanotechnology Atomic Structure. Doctor Touched Icon Nano Technology Text on Virtual Screen.” Shutterstock.com, The Shutterstock Blog, 11 May 2017, http://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/nano-future-technologies-medicine-concept-nanotechnology-638057305.

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