Nanotechnology is one of the words that come to mind when we think about what’s new in the world of technology. The word is pervasive in both technical and semi-technical literature, but what does it really mean? In a nutshell, it basically means “smaller is better.” That is, of course, an oversimplification of the definition given by the Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology committee under the National Nanotechnology Initiative. According to their definition, nanotechnology is: “Research and technology development at the atomic, molecular or macromolecular levels, in the length of approximately 1 – 100 nanometer range, to provide a fundamental understanding of phenomena and materials at the nanoscale and to create and use structures, devices and systems that have novel properties and functions because of their small and/or intermediate size.”
How small is small? What is one nanometer? One nanometer is 0.001 microns (or micrometers). A micron is 0.000001 meters. So, one nanometer is 0.000000001 meters…or 0.0000001 centimeters…or 0.000000039 inches! This size cannot be seen with the naked eye, and the concept can be hard to grasp. But consider that the distance between saturated adjacent carbon atoms in an organic molecule like propane is about 0.15 nanometers. Nanometers are very small. For the complete article, click on "Purchase this article."