Nanotechnology is defined as fabrication of devices with atomic or molecular
scale precision. Devices with minimum feature sizes less than 100 nanometers (nm)
are considered to be products of nanotechnology. A nanometer is one billionth
of a meter (10-9 m) and is the unit of length that is generally most appropriate
for describing the size of single molecules. The nanoscale marks the nebulous
boundary between the classical and quantum mechanical worlds; thus, realization
of nanotechnology promises to bring revolutionary capabilities. Fabrication of
nanomachines, nanoelectronics and other nanodevices will undoubtedly solve an
enormous amount of the problems faced by mankind today.
is currently in a very infantile stage. However, we now have the ability to organize
matter on the atomic scale and there are already numerous products available as
a direct result of our rapidly increasing ability to fabricate and characterize
feature sizes less than 100 nm. Mirrors that don't fog, biomimetic paint with
a contact angle near 180°, gene chips and fat soluble vitamins in aqueous
beverages are some of the first manifestations of nanotechnology. However, immenant
breakthroughs in computer science and medicine will be where the real potential
of nanotechnology will first be achieved.
is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to bring about mature nanotechnology.
Focusing on the nanoscale intersection of fields such as physics, biology, engineering,
chemistry, computer science and more, nanoscience is rapidly expanding. Nanotechnology
centers are popping up around the world as more funding is provided and nanotechnology
market share increases. The rapid progress is apparent by the increasing appearance
of the prefix "nano" in scientific journals and the news. Thus, as we
increase our ability to fabricate computer chips with smaller features and improve
our ability to cure disease at the molecular level, nanotechnology is here.
The amount of space available
to us for information storage (or other uses) is enormous. As first described
in a lecture titled, 'There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom' in 1959 by Richard
P. Feynman, there is nothing besides our clumsy size that keeps us from using
this space. In his time, it was not possible for us to manipulate single atoms
or molecules because they were far too small for our tools. Thus, his
was completely theoretical and seemingly fantastic. He described how the laws
of physics do not limit our ability to manipulate single atoms and molecules.
Instead, it was our lack of the appropriate methods for doing so. However, he
correctly predicted that the time would come in which atomically precise manipulation
of matter would inevitably arrive.
described such atomic scale fabrication as a bottom-up approach, as opposed to
the top-down approach that we are accustomed to. The current top-down method for
manufacturing involves the construction of parts through methods such as cutting,
carving and molding.
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