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Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology

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Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology
, shortened to "
nanotech
", is the study of the control of matter on anatomicandmolecular scale. Generally nanotechnology deals with structures of the size 100nanometers or smaller, and involves developing materials or devices within that size.  Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from novel extensions of conventional device physics, to completely new approaches based uponmolecular self-assembly, to developingnew materials with dimensions on the nanoscale, even to speculation on whether we candirectly control matter on the atomic scale.There has been much debate on the future of implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology has the potential to create many new materials and devices with wide-rangingapplications, such as inmedicine,electronics, and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as with any introduction of new technology, including concerns about thetoxicityand environmental impact of nanomaterials,
and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculationabout variousdoomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacygroups and governments on whether specialregulation of nanotechnology is warranted.
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[edit] Origins
Buckminsterfullerene C
60
, also known as the buckyball, is the simplest of thecarbonstructuresknown asfullerenes. Members of the fullerene family are a major subject of  research falling under the nanotechnology umbrella.Main article:History of nanotechnologyThe first use of the concepts in 'nano-technology' (but pre-dating use of that name) was in"There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," a talk given by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Societymeeting atCaltechonDecember 29, 1959.Feynman described a process by which the ability to manipulate individual atoms and moleculesmight be developed, using one set of precise tools to build and operate another  proportionally smaller set, and so on down to the needed scale. In the course of this, henoted, scaling issues would arise from the changing magnitude of various physical phenomena: gravity would become less important, surface tension andVan der Waalsattraction would become more important, etc. This basic idea appears plausible, andexponential assembly enhances it with  parallelismto produce a useful quantity of end  products. The term "nanotechnology" was defined byTokyo Science University Professor   Norio Taniguchiin a 1974 paper 
as follows: "'Nano-technology' mainly consists of the processing of, separation, consolidation, and deformation of materials by one atom or byone molecule." In the 1980s the basic idea of this definition was explored in much moredepth byDr. K. Eric Drexler , who promoted the technological significance of nano-scale phenomena and devices through speeches and the booksEngines of Creation: TheComing Era of Nanotechnology(1986) and
 Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery,Manufacturing, and Computation
,
and so the term acquired its current sense.Engines of  Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnologyis considered the first book on the topic of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology and nanoscience got started in the early 1980s with twomajor developments; the birth of cluster  science and the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope(STM). This development led to the discovery of fullerenesin 1985 and carbon nanotubesa few years later. In another development, the synthesis and  properties of semiconductor nanocrystalswas studied; this led to a fast increasing number of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles and quantum dots. Theatomic force microscope  was invented six years after the STM was invented. In 2000, the United States National Nanotechnology Initiative was founded to coordinate Federal nanotechnology researchand development.
[edit] Fundamental concepts
 
One nanometer (nm) is one billionth, or 10
−9
, of a meter. By comparison, typical carbon-carbon bond lengths,or the spacing between these atoms in a molecule, are in the range 0.12–0.15 nm, and aDNAdouble-helix has a diameter around 2 nm. On the other hand,the smallestcellular life-forms, the bacteria of the genusMycoplasma,are around 200 nm in length.To put that scale in another context, the comparative size of a nanometer to a meter is thesame as that of a marble to the size of the earth.
Or another way of putting it: ananometer is the amount a man's beard grows in the time it takes him to raise the razor tohis face.
Two main approaches are used in nanotechnology. In the "bottom-up" approach,materials and devices are built frommolecular  components which assemble themselves  chemically by principles of molecular recognition. In the "top-down" approach, nano-objects are constructed from larger entities without atomic-level control.
 Novel areas of physics such asnanoelectronics, nanomechanics and nanophotonicshave  been evolved during the last decades to provide a basic scientific foundation of nanotechnology.
[edit] Larger to smaller: a materials perspective
Image of reconstructionon a cleanGold(100
 
) surface, as visualized using scanningtunneling microscopy.The positions of the individual atomscomposing the surface are visible.Main article: NanomaterialsA number of physical phenomena become pronounced as the size of the systemdecreases. These includestatistical mechanicaleffects, as well asquantum mechanical  effects, for example the “quantumsize effect” where the electronic properties of solidsare altered with great reductions in particle size. This effect does not come into play bygoing from macro to micro dimensions. However, it becomes dominant when thenanometer size range is reached. Additionally, a number of physical (mechanical,electrical, optical, etc.) properties change when compared to macroscopic systems. Oneexample is the increase in surface area to volume ratio altering mechanical, thermal andcatalytic properties of materials. Diffusion and reactions at nanoscale, nanostructures

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