Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to “nanotech“) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macro-scale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology.
A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers.
Why will Nanotechnology change the way we innovate, manufacture and use nearly everything in everyday life?
Do you remember your childhood building blocks? You probably started out with large, wooden cubes and turned to increasingly smaller blocks as you grew older and the structures you created became more complex. The building blocks get even smaller in the real world — so much so that even an optical microscope won’t reveal them. They exist at the nano-scale of things, where a single-walled carbon nano-tube is scarcely 1 nanometer thick.
To put that in relatable terms, you’d have to line up 100,000 of these nano-tubes side by side in order to equal the 100-micrometer diameter of a single strand of hair [source: Nano.gov]. Nano-materials occur naturally all around us, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that scientists developed the tools to see and manipulate such minuscule building blocks as individual molecules and atoms. By directing matter at the nano-scale, scientists achieve greater control over a material’s properties, ranging from its strength and melting point to its fluorescence and electrical conductivity.
We call this field nanotechnology, and it involves such diverse disciplines as chemistry, biology and physics. Currently, more than 1600 commercial products rely on nano-materials, according to the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative.
To capitalize on nanotechnology, however, we need to mass-produce at the nano-scale. So we enter the world of nano-manufacturing.
“Energy may very well be the single most critical challenge facing humanity and by extension solving the problems associated with a growing world population: [Estimated 10 Billion by 2050]
1) Having enough Water and Food
2) A Safe and Clean Environment
3) Promoting access to and enjoying Good Health Somehow, within the next few decades we must find a new energy source that can provide a minimum of 10 terawatts of clean power on a sustainable basis and do this cheaply.”
Much like the changes plastics and polymers brought to our world, (making things easier to make, stronger, cheaper) applied nanomaterials are being fabricated and integrated into large, mature existing while also facilitating emerging products and technologies that are being developed by a very deep field of mature and financially capable companies.
Literally Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials will change the way we innovate everything. They will touch almost every aspect in our everyday lives from Nano-Medicine and Consumer Electronics to Energy Solutions and Advanced Fabrics.
Thanks to atomically precise manufacturing, we will soon have the power to produce radically more of what people want, and at a lower cost. The result will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment. Already, scientists have constructed prototypes for circuit boards built of millions of precisely arranged atoms. The advent of this kind of atomic precision promises to change the way we make things—cleanly, inexpensively, and on a global scale allowing us to imagine a world where solar arrays cost no more than cardboard and aluminum foil, and laptops. costs about the same.
Quantum dots fall into the category of nano-crystals, which also includes quantum rods and nanowires. As a materials subset, quantum dots are characterized by particles fabricated to the smallest of dimensions from only a few atoms and upwards. At these tiny dimensions, they behave according to the rules of quantum physics, which describe the behavior of atoms and sub atomic particles, in contrast to classical physics that describes the behavior of bulk materials, or in other words, objects consisting of many atoms.