Nanotechnology is the managing matter at a very small scale. Specifically, it is controlling matter at the atomic level. Nanotechnology refers to structures or matter that are one hundred nanometers large or smaller. The actual field is quite assorted, and includes both manmade objects and natural objects that are manipulated.
Major Facets of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is currently affecting almost every part of your daily life. You are using products that have been created by nanotechnology without even realizing it. Nanotechnology products are used in metals, polymers, ceramics, and biomaterials. Nanotechnology has already changed how products are manufactured.
History of Nanotechnology
In 1959, Richard Feynman became the first individual to give a lecture about the concepts involved in nanotechnology. He gave the talk at the American Physical Society at Caltech. The talk specifically examined how individuals might be able to manipulate atoms and molecules into smaller structures. The talk was well received, and it introduced the idea to the science world. In 1974, Norio Taniguchi coined the term “nanotechnology” to refer to this new and developing field.
Evolution of Nanotechnology
A number of different technologies helped advance the field of nanotechnology. Two microscopes greatly helped the development of nanotechnology: the Atomic Force Microscope and the Scanning Tunneling Microscope. The abilities of these microscopes were key to being able to develop and manipulate very small structures.
In the late seventies, the scanning acoustic microscope was developed by Calvin Quate. This microscope made it easier for scientists to manipulate different nanostructures using sound.
As the field of nanotechnology grew, scientists invented a number of techniques using other technologies that improved the study of nanotechnology including:
- Optical lithography
- X-ray lithography
- Dip pen nanolithogtaphy
- Electron beam lithography
Possible Dangers of Nanotechnology
There is some concern that the individuals could use nanotechnology to create weapons of mass destruction that would be virtually untraceable. Further, some individuals fear that certain products created by nanotechnology might have health risks, or a negative environmental impact.
The two major techniques that are used in the field are:
- Bottom up technique - materials are created using molecules. These molecules assemble themselves according to the chemical rules of molecular recognition.
- Top down approach - nano-objects are created using larger materials. The top-down approach does not use atomic control.
As of 2010, there were approximately eight hundred nanotech products that are available to the public. The field is growing in size, and every week there are approximately three to five new nanotech products that are developed.
Some of the products that are affected by nanotech include:
- Food packaging material
- Household appliances
- Furniture varnishes
Nanotechnology has even been used to create nanoscale materials that are used in solar cells as an alternative to silicon solar cells.
Specific Nanotechnology Companies
There are hundreds of nanotechnology companies; but, it’s useful to know a couple of the companies to begin to understand the field:
- NanoStellar is a company that creates a nano-composite catalyst that is used in catalytic converters.
- CO2 Solution is a company that produces an enzyme for removal of carbon dioxide from smoke stacks.
- Altimate EnviroCare creates a spray on film that uses titanium oxide nanopartices. This film kills bacteria and eliminates odor.
These are only a handful of the types of nanotechnology companies.
Future of Nanotechnology
In the future, nanotechnology might be used to develop new medicines and pharmaceuticals. The field of nanotechnology makes new products and materials available that would not be available without nanotechnology.
nanotechnology definition by Webster's New World
nanotechnology definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- nanˌo·tech·nolˈo·gist noun
nanotechnology - Computer Definition
The science of developing materials at the atomic and molecular level in order to imbue them with special electrical and chemical properties. Nanotechnology, which deals with devices typically less than 100 nanometers in size, is making a significant contribution to the fields of computer storage, semiconductors, biotechnology, manufacturing and energy. In the future, amazing nanotech-based products are expected, including extraordinarily tiny computers that are very powerful, building materials that withstand earthquakes, advanced systems for drug delivery and custom-tailored pharmaceuticals as well as the elimination of invasive surgery, because repairs can be made from within the body. One Person Can Make a Breakthrough Larry Bock, CEO of Nanosys, who helped launch more than a dozen successful biotech companies in his career, said that nanotech will impact even more industries than biotech. In an excerpted article from the March 2003 Nanotech Report, he compared nanotechnology with microelectronics. Bock said that "a single chemistry graduate student can create novel devices and device architectures not even imaginable or manufacturable by today's biggest microprocessor companies. That is because these devices are fabricated chemically, or from the bottom up. Existing microelectronics technology is fabricated by etching wafers, or from the top down." See AFM, STM, Buckyball, nanotube and MEMS.
nanotechnology - Cultural Definition
A branch of technology devoted to producing devices on an atomic scale. The working part of a typical nanotechnology device might be only a few thousand atoms in width.
nanotechnology - Investment & Finance Definition
The building of very small machines. Nanotechnology involves manipulating matter at the atomic scale, resulting in faster, more powerful technology that uses smaller parts. A nanometer, which is a billionth of a meter, is only about three to five atoms wide. In early 2003, some companies were working on creating a manufacturing technology for computer chips that were 90 nanometers across, which is 30 percent smaller than the 130-nanometer computer chip technology that was common in 2002.Webster's New World Finance and Investment Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
nanotechnology - Science Definition