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 nanotechnologyis warranted.
, 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 physicistRichard Feynmanat anAmerican Physical Societymeeting atCaltechonDecember 29,1959.Feynmandescribed 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 Waalsattractionwould 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 UniversityProfessor 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 thescanningtunneling microscope(STM). This development led to the discovery of fullerenesin 1985andcarbon 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 andquantum dots. Theatomic force microscopewas invented six years after the STM was invented. In 2000, the United States National Nanotechnology Initiative was founded to coordinate Federal nanotechnology researchand development.
, of a meter. By comparison, typical carbon-carbon bond lengths,or the spacing between these atoms in a molecule, are in the range0.12–0.15 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 nmin 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.
Two main approaches are used in nanotechnology. In the "bottom-up" approach,materials and devices are built frommolecular components whichassemble themselveschemically by principles of molecular recognition. In the "top-down" approach, nano-objects are constructed from larger entities without atomic-level control.
) surface, as visualized usingscanningtunneling microscopy.The positions of the individualatomscomposing the surface arevisible.Main article: NanomaterialsA number of physical phenomena become pronounced as the size of the systemdecreases. These includestatistical mechanicaleffects, as well asquantum mechanicaleffects, 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