What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is a relatively new science and is the building of molecular structures, atom by atom. It involves altering and manipulating structures of atoms at the 'nano scale'. The prefix 'Nano' comes from the Greek word which means"dwarf". The term is fitting as the nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a conventional metre (m). Although this field of science is fairly new, it has been unknowingly used throughout history in ceramics and glass making [Refer to 'History' page]. However what has changed recently is an explosion in our ability to image, engineer and manipulate systems in the nanometer scale.

It is important to understand just how small the molecular level is, the diagram below shows this in relation to other known objects.

Source: http://www.nanofolio.org/win/index.php

Why is the smaller 'Nanotechnology' better than anything before?

An Atom
Nanotechnology is a useful science it gives us the capability to build structures 'atom by atom', which opens up the possible creation of never before possible devices (Refer to other pages for a more in-depth study of these new devices).  This new ability is destined to have an enormous impact in almost every aspect of our lives, foregoing any possible creation built on the larger 'micro scale' (which is only one millionth of a meter).


What is a 'nanoparticle'?

A Nanoparticle
A nanoparticle is unit that has a width ranging from a few nanometers (nm) to a couple of hundred. What is different about using particles at this size is because the properties of materials change as their size approaches the nanoscale.

The reason why these Nanoparticles are currently under intense scientific interest is because of the extensive possiblity for these tiny units to be used in a wide range of applications.


What are 'carbon nanotubes and how will they benefit society in the future?

A Carbon Nanotube
Carbon Nanotubes are hexagonally shaped tubes, which are composed of carbon atoms built at the nano-scale, which have exceptional properties. What is exciting the scientists about this new innovation is that they are around 100 times stronger than steel yet one-sixth of the weight.

Since different forms of the Carbon Nanotube are excellent conductors there is a big future for them especially in the realm of computers and electronics. Also they hold great promise as they can very easily penetrate membranes (such as in cell walls), therefore those properties are currently being exploited in the medical field, to be used for drug delivery.


What type of tools are involved with using nanotechnology?

An Atomic Force Microscopy
Therer are two chief devices that are being used in nanotechnology in order to see and manipulate the nanoparticles.

The first is the 'Atomic Force Microscopy' (or AFM as featured in diagram) is a a very high-resolution type of 'scanning probe microscopy' meaning that it can take images of atoms on the nanometer. One of the strongest advantages of using a AFM is the fact that it can take images on virtually any type of surface from ceramics and composites to biological samples.

The second is the 'Scanning Tunneling Microscopy' (or STM) which is a power type of electrons microscopy that shows three-dimensional images of a sample at the atomic level. A down-side to the use of the STM is it can only be used at temperatures from 0 degrees to 100 and only in a 'ultra high vacuum'.


What is Nanotechnology currently worth?

Nanotechnology is now an ever growing industry and is subsequently making money all over the world. In 2009 the global market for nanotechnology was worth $11.67 billion and it is now forecasted that by 2015 the market will be worth around $26 billion. Nanotechnology is growing at an annual rate of 11.1% from sale revenues. In a 2009 report "Nanotechnology: A Realistic Market Assessment" by an analyst firm BCC Research, it was found that 'the largest nanotechnology segments in 2009 were nanomaterials, with sales reaching $9 billion in 2009. This is expected to grow to more than $19 billion in 2015. Sales of nanotools, meanwhile, will experience high growth. From a total market revenue of $2.6 billion in 2009, the nanotools segment will increase at a 3.3% CAGR to reach a value of $6,812.5 million in 2015.'
Source: http://www.pcb007.com/pages/zone.cgi?a=70401&artpg=1&topic=0


How will Nanotechnology change the way we live?

The main purpose of this blog is to inform you of all the different ways (or fields) that nanotechnology will impact on your life in the future. This blog provides you with background information on all the general aspects about the study of nanotechnology, in order for you to gain a full understanding of what is happening and what will happen with nanotechnology. Click on 'Sum-Up' page for more detailed conclusion for this question.