Anyone who explores a career in nanotechnology will learn that it is a multidisciplinary field. Some of these fields include physics, mechanical engineering, chemistry, biology, medicine, business and economics, agricultural science, electronics, computer science, environmental science, and law and ethics.
Chemistry, biology, and physics are the major science nanotechnology fields of study. These fields can provide candidates with a solid foundation for any of a broad range of nanotechnology careers.
Chemistry is the study of matter and the changes matter undergoes. Nanotechnology uses chemistry extensively in the field of molecular devices and molecular manipulation.
The chemistry in nanotechnology is a bit different from the traditional chemistry courses. The chemistry in nanotechnology deals with the manipulation of atoms and molecules of chemicals. Synthesizing a chemical with nanotechnology means building something atom by atom. This process is quite different from traditional chemistry that usually studies materials at the macro or larger scale—more than 100 nanometers.
The traditional biology courses involve the study of the molecular structure and function of living systems. These systems range from cells and bacteria to spiders and humans. All of these organisms rely on nanometer-sized proteins or molecular motors to do everything from cell division to moving a leg. An application of nanotechnology in biology would be to isolate one of these molecular motors from a living system and then design and use it to construct a nanoscale product such as a nanorobot to search out and destroy tumors in the human body.
Physics is the study of the most fundamental interactions between energy and matter and time and space. Physics also includes quantum mechanics, the study of matter and radiation at an atomic scale.
Much of modern technology, such as the transistor, and integrated circuits, which are at the heart of modern computers and electronics, is the result of physics research.
To study science and technology, one must have an adequate background in mathematics. Basic calculus is essential, and differential equations and linear algebra are widely used.
The field of engineering constitutes applied science or the use of scientific principles to analyze and solve practical problems, and especially to design, build, operate, and maintain many types of constructions. The principle fields of engineering are civil and environmental, chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering. But many other specialized types of engineering exist. All types of engineering involve the application of physics and mathematics to designing or problem solving.
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