Nanotechnology Basics and Fundamentals

(experts say that nanotechnology will change our way of living!)

Nano is anything that is measured in nanometers each of which is one-billionth of a meter.

A particle tens of thousands of nanometers in length is still much, much too small for us to see.

  • A conventional microscope can't detect individual molecules that are a few nanometers in diameter.
  • If a slice of a single strand of hair were sliced across, it would measure about a hundred thousand nanometers across.
  • During the last couple of decades, new tools, such as the atomic force microscope, have allowed scientists to replace models and calculations about the nanoscale world with an actual ability to see that world and to manipulate it.
  • Materials re-act differently when they're at nanoscale—smaller than about 100 nanometers in length, still far far tinier than the thickness of a strand of hair.
  • At this scale, a material's properties change; for example, electrical conductivity and mechanical strength are not the same as they are at bulk size.
  • In nature, when carbon atoms are arranged in one way, we get a diamond; if they are put together in another way, we get graphite.
  • In recent years, nanoscientists have learned to arrange carbon atoms in yet another way: into tiny tubes about two nanometers in width that can look like chicken wire and can grow to a length many times their diameter.
  • The carbon nanotube is a completely different material from either diamond or graphite and scientists are currently exploring the properties of these nanotubes which are considered to be a new material; however, they are sill an element of carbon.
  • The advantages of nanotech is in the manipulation of materials at the nanoscale.
  • This manipulation enables scientists and engineers to alter the properties of materials in order to make them do new things. It lets them invent materials not found in nature.
  • There are many potential applications for nanotechnology and there are safety concerns which must be studied and analyzed.
Excerpts from Earth & Sky,
"Earth & Sky's Eleanor Imster explains the basics", April, 2005,
with modifications.

Additional topics are available at Nanotechnology: Index of Articles.