Nanomanipulation will play a big role in nanofabrication. Nanofab-rication is the design and manufacture of devices with dimensions measured in nanometers.

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The microprocessor or microchip starts up and goes to work when the computer is turned on. It performs arithmetic and logic operations that respond to and process basic instructions that drive the computer.

Nanofabrication is of interest to computer engineers who are interested in researching and building super high-density microprocessors that can be used in large computer mainframes, microcomputers, and in handheld computers. The goal is to be able to get each data bit stored in a single atom.

If it can be done, a single atom might even be able to represent a byte or word of data.

Nanofabrication has also caught the attention of the medical industry, the military, and the aerospace industry. Nanofabrication methods in the lines of miniaturization (top-down) and self-assembly (bottom-up) are essential for the development of nanotechnology.

Top-down fabrication can be likened to making a baseball bat from a block of wood. The original block of wood is cut down until the desired shape of the bat is achieved. That is, you start at the beginning or the top and slowly work your way down removing any wood in the shaping of the bat that is not needed.

The most common top-down approach to fabrication involves lithographic patterning techniques mentioned earlier in this chapter. The lithographic process uses short-wavelength light sources.

A major advantage of the top-down approach is that the parts are both patterned and built in place, so that no assembly step is needed.

Bottom-up nanofabrication is the opposite of top-down nanofabrica-tion. The bottom-up nanofabrication is to build nanostructures atom by atom using either self-assembly techniques or manipulating atoms by employing scanning probing microscopy.

Now many industries are adapting nanofabrication technology and will use it even more in the future. Some of the companies include those that produce fiber-optic communications, pharmaceuticals, and microelectronics. According to the Federal Government, the unprecedented spread of nanofabrication and nanotechnology is likely to change the way almost everything is manufactured—from vaccines to computers to automobile tires to objects not yet discovered.

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