What is nanotechnology? Well, let's start
by saying that in nanotechnology size matters. A nanometer is a
microscopic measure that is a billionth of a metre. Put it another
way -- it's 1/750,000th of a strand of hair. Nanotechnology is the
science of working with atoms or molecules of this size.
It is science fiction come true.
Nanotechnology scientists work on matter, which consists of four
to 400 atoms or are below 100 nanometres in scale. There are good
reasons why they've focused on these tiny particles. At these sizes
the classical laws of physics are suspended. The result is that
scientists can manipulate and control atoms -- and, as a result,
create new properties.
That, amongst other things, allows
scientists to create new materials that are stronger, smaller and
tougher than anything known till now.
Scientists reckon that nanotechnology
will eventually affect every industry and consumer in the world.
They may be used to create metals and build bridges or to develop
the next generation of computing.
There are already innovative fabrics and
researchers are working on new drug delivery systems which could
dramatically reduce the need for surgery.
The history of nantechnology began in
1959 when Nobel prize winner Richard Feynman suggested that there
were no scientific laws, which prevented man from manipulating
matter atom by atom. Simply put, Feynman suggested that matter could
be build bottom-up -- atom by atom.
IBM made research possible by inventing a
specialised microscope, which could image samples of atoms at the
Fast forward to the late '80s, when
researchers in Rice University made the first big bang invention:
they exhibited a molecule of carbon which could conduct electricity
and heat and while it was stronger than steel it was lighter than
plastic. After that there was no looking