Nanotechnology is having the ability and the knowledge to manufacture products at the nanoscale—one billionth of a meter. All materials that are one-billionth of a meter are invisible to the human eye. The naked eye can see to about 20 microns. A micron (10-6) is one-millionth of a meter. Even using an optical microscope that uses light energy, we can only see materials that are about 1 micron in size.
In Chapter 1 you read about a number of nanotechnology products that are sold today. These products included pants that are stain-resistant, sunscreens that protect the skin against sun rays, medical dressings that are used for burn victims and special nanoparticles used to make tennis rackets and hockey sticks. So, how can you "see," manipulate, and make products at the nanometer scale, the size of atoms and molecules?
To understand how nanotechnology can be used to manufacture these nanoproducts, you need to review the science of:
• matter's smallest particles—atoms and molecules,
• chemical bonding of atoms and molecules,
• molecular self-assembly, and
• how to manipulate matter at a scale of 1 to 100 nanometers.
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