What is Nanotechnology?

According to the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI):

“Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick; a single gold atom is about a third of a nanometer in diameter. Dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers are known as the nanoscale. Unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties can emerge in materials at the nanoscale. These properties may differ in important ways from the properties of bulk materials and single atoms or molecules.”

Nano connector

Nano connector
Soucre: Flickr, Cyborg b0.1, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Simple definition for Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the science of small things. How small is that? It is usually smaller than 100 nm. 1 nm is 1 billionth of a meter. In the other word, Nanotechnology is an engineering of systems at molecular or atomic scale and provides skills to control and see individual atoms and molecules.

When did it start?
The idea of Nontechnology started with a talk of physicist Richard Feynman at California Institute of Technology (CalTech) on December 29, 1959. The title talk was “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”. Modern nanotechnology started in 1981, when Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) developed. STM is kind of microscope that can see individual atoms. I must say that it is impossible to see atoms with the microscopes that typically used in science classes at high school.

Video: Watch the history of nanotechnology begin with Richard Feynman’s famous talk.

Why Nanotechnology is so incredible

Nanotechnology has the potential to change the world in many positive ways. It will improve the quality of many products that we use every day and makes new products possible. Material properties often change drastically when they shrink from bulk to the nanoscale.

Nowadays, engineers and scientists are trying to enhance properties of a material by making them nano-size. They are experimenting with materials at the nanoscale and trying to learn about their properties and find ways to take advantage of these properties in various applications. These enhanced properties can be different things such as lighter weight, higher strength and greater chemical reactivity as compared to their large-scale counterparts. Nanotechnology can be used in other science fields such as biology, physics, engineering, chemistry and materials science. For example, engineers are trying to use nano-size electronic chips to produce smaller, more powerful electronic devices such as computers, cameras and phones. Doctors are searching for ways to use nanoparticles and nanochip in medical applications such as diagnoses and treatments.

Sounds to theoretical? Then watch this:

Video: The top 10 nanotechnology-powered products

About Sarah Riazimehr

Sarah Riazimehr is pursuing her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Max Lemme in the Department of Elektrotechnische Bauelemente at the RWTH Aachen. Her current research interests focus on understanding the electrical and optical properties of graphene and the other 2D materials for technological applications, in particular 2D based photodetectors.

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