What Is Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the ability to observe, measure, manipulate, and manufacture things at the nanometer scale. A nanometer (nm) is an SI (Systeme International d'Unites) unit of length 10-9 or a distance of one-billionth of a meter. That's very small. At this scale, you are talking about the size of atoms and molecules.

To create a visual image of a nanometer, observe the nail on your little finger. The width of your nail on this finger is about 10 million

Table 1.1 Some Common Objects in Nanometers

How Many Nanometers?


The Width of an Atom The Width Across a DNA Molecule The Width of a Wire in a Computer The Wavelength of Ultraviolet Light The Width of a Dust Particle The Length of Some Bacteria The Width of a Red Blood Cell The Width of a Hair The Width Across a Head of a Pin The Width Across the Nail of a Little

1 nanometer (nm)

2 nanometers 100 nanometers 300 nanometers 800 nanometers 1,000 nanometers 10,000 nanometers

75,000 to 100,000 nanometers 1,000,000 nanometers 10,000,000 nanometers

Finger nanometers across. To get a sense of some other nano-scaled objects, a strand of human hair is approximately 75,000 to 100,000 nanometers in diameter. A head of a pin is about a million nanometers wide and it would take about 10 hydrogen atoms end-to-end to span the length of one nanometer.

The word "nanotechnology" was first introduced in the late 1970s. While many definitions for nanotechnology exist, most groups use the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) definition. The NNI calls something "nanotechnology" only if it involves all of the following:

• Research and technology development at the atomic, molecular, or macro-molecular levels, in the length scale of approximately 1 to 100-nanometer range.

• Creating and using structures, devices, and systems that have novel properties and functions because of their small and/or intermediate size.

• Ability to control or manipulate on the atomic scale.

See Chapter 8 for more information about the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

Please note that nanotechnology is not merely the study of small things. Nanotechnology is the research and development of materials, devices, and systems that exhibit physical, chemical, and biological properties. These properties can be different from those found at larger scales—those that are more than 100 nanometers.

0 0


  • minna
    How many nm is an atom?
    8 years ago

Post a comment