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NANO TECHNOLOGY

NANOTECHNOLOGY INTRODUCTION What is Nanotechnology? The term "nanotechnology" has evolved over the years via terminology drift to mean "anything smaller than microtechnology," such as nano powders, and other things that are nanoscale in size, but not referring to mechanisms that have been purposefully built from nanoscale components. See our "Current Uses" page for examples. This evolved version of the term is more properly labeled "nanoscale bulk technology," while the original meaning is now more properly labeled "molecular nanotechnology" (MNT), or "nanoscale engineering," or "molecular mechanics," or "molecular machine systems," or "molecular manufacturing." Recently, the Foresight Institute has suggested an alternate term to represent the original meaning of nanotechnology: zettatechnology. At the most basic technical level, MNT is building, with intent and design, and molecule by molecule, these two things: 1) incredibly advanced and extremely capable nano-scale and micro-scale machines and computers, and 2) ordinary size objects, using other incredibly small machines called assemblers or fabricators (found inside nanofactories). In a nutshell, by taking advantage of quantum-level properties, MNT allows for unprecedented control of the material world, at the nanoscale, providing the means by which systems and materials can be built with exacting
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specifications and characteristics. Or, as Dr. K. Eric Drexler puts it "largescale mechanosynthesis based on positional control of chemically reactive molecules.

MNT represents the state of the art in advances in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science and mathematics. The major research objectives in MNT are the design, modeling, and fabrication of molecular machines and molecular devices. The emergence of MNT - both infant and mature - has numerous social, legal, cultural, ethical, religious, philosophical and political implications. At the most basic social level, MNT is going to be responsible for massive changes in the way we live, the way we interact with one another and our environment, andthe things we are capable of doing.

For more information, read What is Nanotechnology? by the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, this explanation from CORDIS for a "child's eye view" of nanotechnology, and What is Nanotechnology? by Tim Harper.
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See also Introduction to Nanoscience by Prof. Vicki Colvin, Rice University Department of Chemistry and Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. See also What is Nanotechnology? from LANL, and Dr. Mihail Roco's presentation titled National Nanotechnology Initiative Overview from the 3rd Integrated Nanosystems Conference in Pasadena, California, held on For more information on the potential (both good and bad), see War, Interdependence, and Nanotechnology For more information on a recent study devoted to the beneficial potential of nanotechnology Nanotechnology in Construction - one of the top ten answers to world's biggest problems At the end of the day, it is not the meaning behind the terms that is important, it is the fact that all the many definitions suggest that we have been and are on a rapidly accelerating technological rollercoaster, and rapid change is the track it rides. Once MNT develops to the stage where we've built the two most essential machines - called the Universal Assembler and the Nanocomputer everything has a near-term possibility of significant change. "A key ingredient in understanding nanotechnology is realizing precisely what it is and what it isn't. ... we are talking about research and development
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NANO TECHNOLOGY
in the length scale of .1 nanometers to 100 nanometers to create unique structures, devices, and systems. In many instances the actual structures, devices, and systems will be much larger, but they will be classified as nanotechnology due to the fact that they will either be created at the nanoscale or nanotechnology will enable them to perform new and/or improved functions. Many materials, once they are individually reduced below 100 nanometers, begin displaying a set of unique characteristics based on quantum mechanical forces that are exhibited at the level. Due to these quantum mechanical effects, materials may become more conducting, be able to transfer heat better, or have modified mechanical properties." From "The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business." By Jack Uldrich & Deb Newberry. March 2003 Read our review

To get a better idea of why the nanometer scale is so important, see the explanation at the LANL site: Why is this length scale so important?

"Imagine a world in which microscopic procreating robots are sent into the human body with the mission of detecting cancer cells, disassembling them, and sending them out into the bloodstream as waste products. Then imagine similar robots in the hands of a sinister force that decides to turn an entire
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continent into gray dust. Science fiction or reality?" From Souls, Slavery, and Survival in the Molenotech Age: An Alien's Version by Lin Sten.

Comprised of three independent and interdependent movements: Dry, Wet, and Computational Nanotechnology; MNT represents the state of the art in advances in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science and mathematics. The major research objectives in MNT are the design, modeling, and fabrication of molecular machines and molecular devices. The emergence of MNT--both infant and mature--has numerous social, legal, cultural, ethical, religious, philosophical and political implications. Much as the invention of electricity and transistors were enabling technologies, so too is Nanotechnology (more precisely, nanoscale technologies) enabling - it will enable us to do radical new things in virtually every technological and scientific arena. It will also change things in unpredictable and unanticipated ways. Having learned lessons from their experiences with other revolutionary technologies, scientists (technologists and social scientists) are collaborating in examinating the implications of the developments that are beginning to take place, in an effort to both smooth the transitions, and to head off potential negative consequences (such as Gray Goo or government intervention in research and development).

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