nano- [NA noh], nan-, nanno-, -nania

(Greek: dwarf, dwarfish; pygmy; "little old man;" very small or tiny; also, a decimal prefix used in the international metric system for measurements)

This prefix is used in the metric [decimal] system as billionth [U.S.] and thousand-millionth [U.K.], 10-9 [0.000 000 001]. The metric symbol for nano- is n.

nanoplankton (s) (noun), nanoplanktons (pl)
Minute, or very tiny, plant or animal creatures that can pass through a 0.03-0.04 mm mesh silk bolting cloth: The autotrophic nanoplankton of minute size are composed of organisms measuring from two to twenty microns in size, and are smaller than 40 microns in diameter.
Nanosaurus, Nanosaur
A “dwarf (pygmy) lizard” from Late Jurassic Colorado and Utah (USA). Named by Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899) in 1877.
1. Relating to or occurring on a scale of nanometers.
2. Referring to extremely small dimensions in the range of 100 nanometers or less, or to materials or objects existing at this level.
nanoscience (s) (noun), nanosciences (pl)
The knowledge of materials and phenomena that exist at very miniaturized levels; especially, at dimensions of around one nanometer.

Nanoscience consists of technology that utilizes the ability to build devices which are extremely small.

In nanoscience, nanometers are used to measure the smallest things; usually, those that are the size of an atom or molecule, and are used when working with miniature computing devices; such as, integrated circuits (IC) and transistors in a processor.

Some microchips in nanoscience have transistors which are 100 nanometers wide and can accommodate more than one billion transistors within a single microchip.

1. A nanosecond (ns or nsec) is one billionth (10-9) of a second and is a common measurement of read or write access time to random access memory (RAM) on computer hard disks.
2. A popular term for an extremely short time.
nanosensor (s) (noun), nanosensors (pl)
A chemical, biological, or medical surgical point which is used to obtain information about tiny particles or objects that respond as a unit in its transportation from one place to another one: The use of nanosensors primarily includes various medicinal purposes and serve as doorways to building other nanoproducts, such as computer chips that work at the nanoscale and even nanorobots.
Dwarfism; the state of being a dwarf; underdevelopment of the body or some part of the body.

A dwarf is defined as a person who is unusually short, particularly one of atypical proportions; also called, a nanus. It also includes an animal or plant that is abnormally small in size.

The lower level of microprogram control memory, in which the nanoinstructions are stored.
nanostructure (s), nanostructure (pl) (noun forms)
1. Any manufactured structure having a scale between molecular (smallest particle) and microscopic (so small that it can only be seen using a microscope).
2. An extremely small device, material, or particle; for example, the technology on a semiconductor chip: "The company's objective is to design materials for nanostructure computer components."
3. Something which has a physical dimension ranging from clusters of atoms to dimensional layers.
nanosurgery (also, nannosurgery)
1. The art of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale especially to build microscopic devices; such as, robots.
2. A field of science whose goal is to control individual atoms and molecules to create computer chips and other devices that are thousands of times smaller than current technologies permit. Now, current manufacturing processes are using lithography to imprint circuits on semiconductor materials.
3. In the popular press, the term nanotechnology is sometimes used to refer to any sub-micron process, including lithography; as a result of this, there are many scientists who are beginning to use the term molecular nanotechnology when talking about true nanotechnology at the molecular level.
4. The science and technology of devices and materials; such as, electronic circuits or drug delivery systems, constructed on extremely small scales, as small as individual atoms and molecules.

This is the science and technology of precisely manipulating the structure of matter at the molecular level. The term nanotechnology embraces many fields and specialties, including engineering, chemistry, electronics, and medicine, among others; but all are concerned with bringing existing technologies down to a very small scale, measured in nanometers.

  • A nanometer (a billionth of a meter) is about the size of six carbon atoms in a row.
  • Today, as in the past, most industrial products are created by pushing piles of millions of atoms together; by mixing, grinding, heating; a very imprecise process.
  • Scientists can now pick up individual atoms to assemble them into simple structures or cause specific chemical reactions.
  • Propellers have been attached to molecular motors, and electricity has been conducted through nanowires.
  • Nanotubes made of carbon are being investigated for a variety of industrial and research purposes.
  • In the future, nanotechnology may be able to harness the forces that operate at the scale of the nanometer; as well as, changes in the quantum states of particles, for new engineering purposes.
  • The development of nanotechnology holds out great promise of improvements in the quality of human life, including new treatments for diseases and greater efficiency in computer data storage and processing.
  • Tiny autonomous robots, or nanobots, may one day be sent into human bodies to repair cells and cure cancers, perhaps even extending the human life span by many years (all very speculative).
  • The simple devices created by nanotechnology so far have not approached the complexity of the envisioned nanomachines and nanobots.
  • Some scientists even see a dark side to the technology, emphasizing the need for caution in its development, particularly in attempts to create nonobots that can replicate themselves like living organisms.

Additional topics are available at Nanotechnology: Index of Articles.

Related "few, small, less, little" word units: micro-; mini-; mio-, meio-; oligo-, olig-.

Related "metric" families: yotta; zetta; exa; peta; tera; giga; mega; kilo; hecto; deka; deci; centi; milli; micro; pico; femto; atto; zepto; yocto.