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A brief introduction to — Nanotechnology

Think small... Dream BIG!
Size does matter

A space elevator - quite possible in the nano future!
Nanotechnology image
image by Jody Seung Yun Yang

Using an STM
(scanning tunneling microscope)
which manipulates atoms
one at a time. This shows a new method for imprinting on the molecular scale.

              What's the result?
An up-close look at 12 bromine atoms, arranged in a circle through molecular self-assembly.

Space - the final frontier
This Star Trek slogan could apply not only to space in a large, cosmological sense,
but also to the frontier of nanotechnology with its very small spatial dimensions.

Definition of Nanotechnology: While many definitions for 
Nano is a Greek prefix which means exist, the National Nanotechnology Initiative calls it "nanotechnology" only if it involves all of the following:

1. Research and technology development at the Atomic is of or relating to or compromising atoms - the smallest component of an element having the chemical properties of the element., Molecular is relating to or produced by or consisting of molecules. Molecules are a combination of two or more atoms that are chemically bonded. or Macromolecular is relating to or consisting of or characterized by macromolecules. A macromolecule is a large very complex molecule. levels, in the length scale of approximately 1 - 100 nanometer range.

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

3. Ability to control or manipulate on the atomic scale.

Nano Strengths: Medical researchers work at the micro- and nano-scales to develop new drug delivery methods, Therapeutics are relating to or involved in therapies or remedies: medicines or therapies that cure disease or relieve pain - restore to health. and Pharmaceuticals are drugs or medicines that are prepared or dispensed in pharmacies and used in medical treatment.. For instance, DNA, our genetic material, is in the 2.5 nanometer range, while red blood cells are approximately 2.5 micrometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter and a meter is just over 3 feet.

Scientists create and control these tiny materials by manipulating them molecule-by-molecule. Their goal is to create cleaner, stronger and more precise products for people. Properties of an element change at this nano level. Some people consider this a new 'Industrial Revolution.'

"It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap." Research scientists at Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science have achieved a breakthrough by proving that the carbon material graphene is the strongest material ever measured.

Or...consider this...Click for an animated view of maniacal nanobots and the grey-goo-world - is this possible? (10.3mb and worth the wait!)

Nano Applications: Today scientists can form certain shapes or colors or create a barrier between two other materials using Nanotechnology. Examples of this include the new khakis that are 'stain-resistant' or newly developed paint for cars to protect a car's finish. There are many advances in Nanotechnology including a silicon chip that can be placed in a blind person's eye to help them see with special glasses. Another type of nanotechnology is nano-tube wires, thinner than a single strand of human hair, that can still carry an electrical current or store hydrogen.

Pittsburgh Connection: Home to some of the leading material companies - Alcoa, Bayer MaterialScience, PPG Industries and United States Steel - the region is poised to capitalize on the nanomaterials boom. Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Nano Material Commercialization Center has funded local nano companies - for example Plextronics Inc.

Did You Know?: The nanoscale structure of mussel shells makes them incredibly strong.

" Up to now we have been content to dig in the ground to find minerals, ...
ultimately in the great future we can arrange the atoms the way we want."

Richard P. Feynman (1959) - The man who dared to think small.

Some important Nanotechnology terms include:
Nanolevel  •  Atomic  •  Molecular   •  A - clean room - is a room that is virtually free of dust or bacteria; used in laboratory work and in assembly or repair of precision equipment.  •  Nanoscale  •  Nanometer
Nano-science  •  In nanotechnology or the building of extremely small machines and computers, a nanotube is a long, cylindrical carbon structure consisting of hexagonal graphite molecules attached at the edges. The nanotube developed from the so-called Fullerene, a structure similar to the way geodesic domes, originally conceived by R. Buckminster Fuller, are built. Because of this, nanotubes are sometimes called buckytubes.  •  An atomic force microscope is an instrument able to image surfaces to molecular accuracy by mechanically probing their surface contours - mapping the atomic structure of a surface by measuring the force acting on the very fine tip of a wire moved over the surface. (AFM)  •  Buckyball is short for buckminsterfullerene - or molecules made up of 60 carbon atoms arranged in a series of interlocking hexagonal shapes, similar to a soccer ball. This is a naturally occurring form of carbon known as C-60 and its molecular structure resembles the geodesic domes once designed by Buckminster Fuller, hence the name.

For more information on nanotechnology, be sure to visit:
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