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What is Nanotechnology?

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What is nanotechnology? Well, it has many different definitions, but the most basic and most agreed upon is that it is the study of and use of structures at the molecular scale (between 1 to 100 nanometers). Though, another more traditional meaning of the concept of nanotechnology is building things from the bottom up, with atomic precision. Nanotechnology encompasses many different types of sciences such as molecular physics, materials science, chemistry, biology, computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. The word nanotechnology was popularized in the 1980s by K. Eric Drexler, a researcher, whose work focuses on advanced nanotech. He wrote a paper in 1981 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which established the ideas of the fundamental principles of molecular design, protein engineering, and productive nanosystems. The idea of nanotech was envisioned as early as 1959 by Richard Feynman. Feynman believed, in principle, that things could be moved atom by atom, but that in practice “it has not been done because we (humans) are too big.”-Feynman.

To begin work at the nanoscale scientists first needed microscopes powerful enough in order to see what they were interacting with, as early as the 1930s scientists were able to see at the nanoscale using the scanning electron microscope, the transmission electron microscope and the field ion microscope. About forty years later the scanning tunneling microscope allowed scientists to view and manipulate nanoscale particles, atoms and small molecules. So, what is so great about particles at the nanoscale? Well, when particles are created with the dimensions of about 1-100nm the material’s properties change significantly when compared to those at larger scales, therefore, when particle size is made to be nanoscale properties such as melting point, electrical conductivity and chemical reactivity change as a function of the size of the particle.

Nanomanufacturing, this is what they call manufacturing at the nanoscale. This leads to the production of new and improved materials and products. The products of nanomanufacturing are used in many commercial products and processes, for example, nanomaterials are used to make lightweight and strong materials used for boat hulls, sporting equipment and automotive parts. In healthcare, nanoceramics are used in some dental implants or to fill holes in diseased bone, while a lot of high performance electronic devices use some form of nanomaterials. Seeing all these current uses for nanotechnology brings up the question of where we can see the future of nanotech going. Well, in the medical field nanoparticles can be used to increase the efficiency of medicines to target specific problem areas while not damaging the rest of the body. The technology can also be used to help scanning tools, such as MRIs and CAT scans, to work better and more safely. New nanomaterials will help us everywhere in our daily lives with stronger, lighter, and more durable materials than we have today in buildings, automobiles and electronics. Scientists are evening experimenting with nanomaterials that bend light in unique ways that may enable the creation of an “invisibility cloak”. So, as we can see nanotechnology has the great benefit and potential of improving everyone’s life.

But don't just take my word for it *insert reading rainbow sound cue*

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Updated 11-19-13 at 12:12 AM by i8pptuakamonstercam

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Provocative Thought , Technology

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