Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology

Overview
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

ic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometre
Nanometre
A nanometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a metre. The name combines the SI prefix nano- with the parent unit name metre .The nanometre is often used to express dimensions on the atomic scale: the diameter...

s. Quantum mechanical
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

 effects are important at this quantum-realm
Quantum realm
Quantum realm is a term of art in physics referring to scales where quantum mechanical effects become important . Typically, this means distances of 100 nanometers or less. Not coincidentally, this is the same scale as nanotechnology....

 scale.

Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics
Semiconductor device
Semiconductor devices are electronic components that exploit the electronic properties of semiconductor materials, principally silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide, as well as organic semiconductors. Semiconductor devices have replaced thermionic devices in most applications...

 to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly
Molecular self-assembly
Molecular self-assembly is the process by which molecules adopt a defined arrangement without guidance or management from an outside source. There are two types of self-assembly, intramolecular self-assembly and intermolecular self-assembly...

, from developing new materials
Nanomaterials
Nanomaterials is a field that takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology. It studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions...

 with dimensions on the nanoscale to investigating whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale
Molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology is a technology based on the ability to build structures to complex, atomic specifications by means of mechanosynthesis. This is distinct from nanoscale materials...

.
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Encyclopedia
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

ic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometre
Nanometre
A nanometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a metre. The name combines the SI prefix nano- with the parent unit name metre .The nanometre is often used to express dimensions on the atomic scale: the diameter...

s. Quantum mechanical
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

 effects are important at this quantum-realm
Quantum realm
Quantum realm is a term of art in physics referring to scales where quantum mechanical effects become important . Typically, this means distances of 100 nanometers or less. Not coincidentally, this is the same scale as nanotechnology....

 scale.

Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics
Semiconductor device
Semiconductor devices are electronic components that exploit the electronic properties of semiconductor materials, principally silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide, as well as organic semiconductors. Semiconductor devices have replaced thermionic devices in most applications...

 to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly
Molecular self-assembly
Molecular self-assembly is the process by which molecules adopt a defined arrangement without guidance or management from an outside source. There are two types of self-assembly, intramolecular self-assembly and intermolecular self-assembly...

, from developing new materials
Nanomaterials
Nanomaterials is a field that takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology. It studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions...

 with dimensions on the nanoscale to investigating whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale
Molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology is a technology based on the ability to build structures to complex, atomic specifications by means of mechanosynthesis. This is distinct from nanoscale materials...

. Nanotechnology entails the application of fields of science as diverse as surface science
Surface science
Surface science is the study of physical and chemical phenomena that occur at the interface of two phases, including solid–liquid interfaces, solid–gas interfaces, solid–vacuum interfaces, and liquid-gas interfaces. It includes the fields of surface chemistry and surface physics. Some related...

, organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

, molecular biology
Molecular biology
Molecular biology is the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of biological activity. This field overlaps with other areas of biology and chemistry, particularly genetics and biochemistry...

, semiconductor physics, microfabrication
Microfabrication
Microfabrication is the term that describes processes of fabrication of miniature structures, of micrometre sizes and smaller. Historically the earliest microfabrication processes were used for integrated circuit fabrication, also known as "semiconductor manufacturing" or "semiconductor device...

, etc.

There is much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology
Implications of nanotechnology
The impact of nanotechnology extend from its medical, ethical, mental, legal and environmental applications, to fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, computing, materials science, military applications, and communications....

. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine
Nanomedicine
Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology. Nanomedicine ranges from the medical applications of nanomaterials, to nanoelectronic biosensors, and even possible future applications of molecular nanotechnology. Current problems for nanomedicine involve understanding the issues related...

, electronics
Nanoelectronics
Nanoelectronics refer to the use of nanotechnology on electronic components, especially transistors. Although the term nanotechnology is generally defined as utilizing technology less than 100 nm in size, nanoelectronics often refer to transistor devices that are so small that inter-atomic...

, biomaterials and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity
Nanotoxicology
Nanotoxicology is the study of the toxicity of nanomaterials. Because of quantum size effects and large surface area to volume ratio, nanomaterials have unique properties compared with their larger counterparts....

 and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios
Grey goo
Grey goo is a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves, a scenario known as ecophagy .Self-replicating machines of the macroscopic variety were originally...

. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology
Regulation of nanotechnology
Because of the ongoing controversy on the implications of nanotechnology, there is significant debate concerning whether nanotechnology or nanotechnology-based products merit special government regulation...

 is warranted.

Origins




Although nanotechnology is a relatively recent development in scientific research, the development of its central concepts happened over a longer period of time. The emergence of nanotechnology in the 1980s was caused by the convergence of experimental advances such as the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope
Scanning tunneling microscope
A scanning tunneling microscope is an instrument for imaging surfaces at the atomic level. Its development in 1981 earned its inventors, Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer , the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. For an STM, good resolution is considered to be 0.1 nm lateral resolution and...

 in 1981 and the discovery of fullerene
Fullerene
A fullerene is any molecule composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube. Spherical fullerenes are also called buckyballs, and they resemble the balls used in association football. Cylindrical ones are called carbon nanotubes or buckytubes...

s in 1985, with the elucidation and popularization of a conceptual framework for the goals of nanotechnology beginning with the 1986 publication of the book Engines of Creation
Engines of Creation
Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology is a 1986 molecular nanotechnology book written by K. Eric Drexler with a foreword by Marvin Minsky. An updated version was released in 2007...

.

The scanning tunneling microscope
Scanning tunneling microscope
A scanning tunneling microscope is an instrument for imaging surfaces at the atomic level. Its development in 1981 earned its inventors, Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer , the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. For an STM, good resolution is considered to be 0.1 nm lateral resolution and...

, an instrument for imaging surfaces at the atomic level, was developed in 1981 by Gerd Binnig
Gerd Binnig
Gerd Binnig is a German physicist, and a Nobel laureate.He was born in Frankfurt am Main and played in the ruins of the city during his childhood. His family lived partly in Frankfurt and partly in Offenbach am Main, and he attended school in both cities. At the age of 10, he decided to become a...

 and Heinrich Rohrer
Heinrich Rohrer
Heinrich Rohrer is a Swiss physicist who shared half of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics with Gerd Binnig for the design of the scanning tunneling microscope .-Biography:...

 at IBM Zurich Research Laboratory
IBM Zurich Research Laboratory
IBM Research - Zurich is the European branch of IBM Research and has been located in Rüschlikon, near Zurich, Switzerland since 1962.-Overview and history:...

, for which they received the Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 in 1986. Fullerene
Fullerene
A fullerene is any molecule composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube. Spherical fullerenes are also called buckyballs, and they resemble the balls used in association football. Cylindrical ones are called carbon nanotubes or buckytubes...

s were discovered in 1985 by Harry Kroto, Richard Smalley
Richard Smalley
Richard Errett Smalley was the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry and a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University, in Houston, Texas...

, and Robert Curl
Robert Curl
Robert Floyd Curl, Jr. the son of a Methodist Minister is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, Texas and is an emeritus professor of chemistry at Rice University....

, who together won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

.

Around the same time, K. Eric Drexler
K. Eric Drexler
Dr. Kim Eric Drexler is an American engineer best known for popularizing the potential of molecular nanotechnology , from the 1970s and 1980s.His 1991 doctoral thesis at MIT was revised and published as...

 developed and popularized the concept of nanotechnology and founded the field of molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology is a technology based on the ability to build structures to complex, atomic specifications by means of mechanosynthesis. This is distinct from nanoscale materials...

. In 1979, Drexler encountered Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

's 1959 talk "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom". The term "nanotechnology", originally coined by Norio Taniguchi
Norio Taniguchi
was a professor of Tokyo University of Science. He coined the term nano-technology in 1974 to describe semiconductor processes such as thin film deposition and ion beam milling exhibiting characteristic control on the order of a nanometer: "Nano-technology' mainly consists of the processing of...

 in 1974, was unknowingly appropriated by Drexler in his 1986 book Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology
Engines of Creation
Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology is a 1986 molecular nanotechnology book written by K. Eric Drexler with a foreword by Marvin Minsky. An updated version was released in 2007...

, which proposed the idea of a nanoscale "assembler" which would be able to build a copy of itself and of other items of arbitrary complexity. He also first published the term "grey goo
Grey goo
Grey goo is a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves, a scenario known as ecophagy .Self-replicating machines of the macroscopic variety were originally...

" to describe what might happen if a hypothetical self-replicating molecular nanotechnology went out of control. Drexler's vision of nanotechnology is often called "Molecular Nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology is a technology based on the ability to build structures to complex, atomic specifications by means of mechanosynthesis. This is distinct from nanoscale materials...

" (MNT) or "molecular manufacturing," and Drexler at one point proposed the term "zettatech" which never became popular.

In the early 2000s, the field was subject to growing public awareness and controversy, with prominent debates about both its potential implications
Implications of nanotechnology
The impact of nanotechnology extend from its medical, ethical, mental, legal and environmental applications, to fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, computing, materials science, military applications, and communications....

, exemplified by the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

's report on nanotechnology, as well as the feasibility of the applications envisioned by advocates of molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology is a technology based on the ability to build structures to complex, atomic specifications by means of mechanosynthesis. This is distinct from nanoscale materials...

, which culminated in the public debate between Eric Drexler and Richard Smalley in 2001 and 2003. Governments moved to promote and fund research
Funding of science
Through history, the systems of economic support for scientists and their work have been important determinants of the character and pace of scientific research. The ancient foundations of the sciences were driven by practical and religious concerns and or the pursuit of philosophy more generally...

 into nanotechnology with programs such as the National Nanotechnology Initiative
National Nanotechnology Initiative
The National Nanotechnology Initiative is a United States federal nanoscale science, engineering, and technology research and development program...

.

The early 2000s also saw the beginnings of commercial applications of nanotechnology, although these were limited to bulk applications of nanomaterials
Nanomaterials
Nanomaterials is a field that takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology. It studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions...

, such as the Silver Nano
Silver Nano
Silver Nano is a trademark name of an antibacterial technology which uses silver nanoparticles in washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners, air purifiers and vacuum cleaners introduced by Samsung in April 2003....

 platform for using silver nanoparticles
Silver nanoparticles
Silver nanoparticles are nanoparticles of silver, i.e. silver particles of between 1 nm and 100 nm in size. While frequently described as being 'silver' some are composed of a large percentage of silver oxide due to their large ratio of surface-to-bulk silver atoms.-Synthesis:There are...

 as an antibacterial agent, nanoparticle
Nanoparticle
In nanotechnology, a particle is defined as a small object that behaves as a whole unit in terms of its transport and properties. Particles are further classified according to size : in terms of diameter, coarse particles cover a range between 10,000 and 2,500 nanometers. Fine particles are sized...

-based transparent sunscreens, and carbon nanotube
Carbon nanotube
Carbon nanotubes are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. Nanotubes have been constructed with length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1, significantly larger than for any other material...

s for stain-resistant textiles.

Fundamental concepts


Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced. In its original sense, nanotechnology refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.

One nanometer (nm) is one billionth, or 10−9, of a meter. By comparison, typical carbon-carbon bond length
Bond length
- Explanation :Bond length is related to bond order, when more electrons participate in bond formation the bond will get shorter. Bond length is also inversely related to bond strength and the bond dissociation energy, as a stronger bond will be shorter...

s, or the spacing between these atoms in a molecule, are in the range , and a DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 double-helix has a diameter around 2 nm. On the other hand, the smallest cellular
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

 life-forms, the bacteria of the genus Mycoplasma
Mycoplasma
Mycoplasma refers to a genus of bacteria that lack a cell wall. Without a cell wall, they are unaffected by many common antibiotics such as penicillin or other beta-lactam antibiotics that target cell wall synthesis. They can be parasitic or saprotrophic. Several species are pathogenic in humans,...

, are around 200 nm in length. By convention, nanotechnology is taken as the scale range following the definition used by the National Nanotechnology Initiative
National Nanotechnology Initiative
The National Nanotechnology Initiative is a United States federal nanoscale science, engineering, and technology research and development program...

 in the US. The lower limit is set by the size of atoms (hydrogen has the smallest atoms, which are approximately a quarter of a nm diameter) since nanotechnology must build its devices from atoms and molecule
Molecule
A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

s. The upper limit is more or less arbitrary but is around the size that phenomena not observed in larger structures start to become apparent and can be made use of in the nano device. These new phenomena make nanotechnology distinct from devices which are merely miniaturised versions of an equivalent macroscopic device; such devices are on a larger scale and come under the description of microtechnology
Microtechnology
Microtechnology is technology with features near one micrometre .In the 1960s, scientists learned that by arraying large numbers of microscopic transistors on a single chip, microelectronic circuits could be built that dramatically improved performance, functionality, and reliability, all while...

.

To put that scale in another context, the comparative size of a nanometer to a meter is the same as that of a marble to the size of the earth. Or another way of putting it: a nanometer is the amount an average man's beard grows in the time it takes him to raise the razor to his face.

Two main approaches are used in nanotechnology. In the "bottom-up" approach, materials and devices are built from molecular
Molecule
A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

 components which assemble themselves
Self-assembly
Self-assembly is a term used to describe processes in which a disordered system of pre-existing components forms an organized structure or pattern as a consequence of specific, local interactions among the components themselves, without external direction...

 chemically by principles of molecular recognition
Molecular recognition
The term molecular recognition refers to the specific interaction between two or more molecules through noncovalent bonding such as hydrogen bonding, metal coordination, hydrophobic forces, van der Waals forces, π-π interactions, electrostatic and/or electromagnetic effects...

. In the "top-down" approach, nano-objects are constructed from larger entities without atomic-level control.

Areas of physics such as nanoelectronics
Nanoelectronics
Nanoelectronics refer to the use of nanotechnology on electronic components, especially transistors. Although the term nanotechnology is generally defined as utilizing technology less than 100 nm in size, nanoelectronics often refer to transistor devices that are so small that inter-atomic...

, nanomechanics
Nanomechanics
Nanomechanics is a branch of nanoscience studying fundamental mechanical properties of physical systems at the nanometer scale. Nanomechanics has emerged on the crossroads of classical mechanics, solid-state physics, statistical mechanics, materials science, and quantum chemistry...

, nanophotonics
Nanophotonics
Nanophotonics or Nano-optics is the study of the behavior of light on the nanometer scale. It is considered as a branch of optical engineering which deals with optics, or the interaction of light with particles or substances, at deeply subwavelength length scales...

 and nanoionics
Nanoionics
Nanoionics is the study and application of phenomena, properties, effects and mechanisms of processes connected with fast ion transport in all-solid-state nanoscale systems. The topics of interest include fundamental properties of oxide ceramics at nanometer length scales, and fast ion conductor...

 have evolved during the last few decades to provide a basic scientific foundation of nanotechnology.

Larger to smaller: a materials perspective




A number of physical phenomena become pronounced as the size of the system decreases. These include statistical mechanical
Statistical mechanics
Statistical mechanics or statistical thermodynamicsThe terms statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics are used interchangeably...

 effects, as well as quantum mechanical
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

 effects, for example the “quantum
Quantum
In physics, a quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction. Behind this, one finds the fundamental notion that a physical property may be "quantized," referred to as "the hypothesis of quantization". This means that the magnitude can take on only certain discrete...

 size effect” where the electronic properties of solids are altered with great reductions in particle size. This effect does not come into play by going from macro to micro dimensions. However, quantum effects become dominant when the nanometer size range is reached, typically at distances of 100 nanometers or less, the so called quantum realm
Quantum realm
Quantum realm is a term of art in physics referring to scales where quantum mechanical effects become important . Typically, this means distances of 100 nanometers or less. Not coincidentally, this is the same scale as nanotechnology....

. Additionally, a number of physical (mechanical, electrical, optical, etc.) properties change when compared to macroscopic systems. One example is the increase in surface area to volume ratio altering mechanical, thermal and catalytic properties of materials. Diffusion and reactions at nanoscale, nanostructures materials and nanodevices with fast ion transport are generally referred to nanoionics
Nanoionics
Nanoionics is the study and application of phenomena, properties, effects and mechanisms of processes connected with fast ion transport in all-solid-state nanoscale systems. The topics of interest include fundamental properties of oxide ceramics at nanometer length scales, and fast ion conductor...

. Mechanical properties of nanosystems are of interest in the nanomechanics
Nanomechanics
Nanomechanics is a branch of nanoscience studying fundamental mechanical properties of physical systems at the nanometer scale. Nanomechanics has emerged on the crossroads of classical mechanics, solid-state physics, statistical mechanics, materials science, and quantum chemistry...

 research. The catalytic activity of nanomaterials also opens potential risks in their interaction with biomaterial
Biomaterial
A biomaterial is any matter, surface, or construct that interacts with biological systems. The development of biomaterials, as a science, is about fifty years old. The study of biomaterials is called biomaterials science. It has experienced steady and strong growth over its history, with many...

s.

Materials reduced to the nanoscale can show different properties compared to what they exhibit on a macroscale, enabling unique applications. For instance, opaque substances become transparent (copper); stable materials turn combustible (aluminum); insoluble materials become soluble (gold). A material such as gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, which is chemically inert at normal scales, can serve as a potent chemical catalyst at nanoscales. Much of the fascination with nanotechnology stems from these quantum and surface phenomena that matter exhibits at the nanoscale.

Simple to complex: a molecular perspective


Modern synthetic chemistry
Chemical synthesis
In chemistry, chemical synthesis is purposeful execution of chemical reactions to get a product, or several products. This happens by physical and chemical manipulations usually involving one or more reactions...

 has reached the point where it is possible to prepare small molecule
Molecule
A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

s to almost any structure. These methods are used today to manufacture a wide variety of useful chemicals such as pharmaceuticals
Drug
A drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function. There is no single, precise definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and colloquial usage.In pharmacology, a...

 or commercial polymer
Polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

s. This ability raises the question of extending this kind of control to the next-larger level, seeking methods to assemble these single molecules into supramolecular assemblies
Supramolecular assembly
A supramolecular assembly or "supermolecule" is a well defined complex of molecules held together by noncovalent bonds. While a supramolecular assembly can be simply composed of two molecules , it is more often used to denote larger complexes of molecules that form sphere-, rod-, or sheet-like...

 consisting of many molecules arranged in a well defined manner.

These approaches utilize the concepts of molecular self-assembly
Molecular self-assembly
Molecular self-assembly is the process by which molecules adopt a defined arrangement without guidance or management from an outside source. There are two types of self-assembly, intramolecular self-assembly and intermolecular self-assembly...

 and/or supramolecular chemistry
Supramolecular chemistry
Supramolecular chemistry refers to the area of chemistry beyond the molecules and focuses on the chemical systems made up of a discrete number of assembled molecular subunits or components...

 to automatically arrange themselves into some useful conformation through a bottom-up
Bottom-up
Bottom-up may refer to:* In business development, a bottom-up approach means that the adviser takes the needs and wishes of the would-be entrepreneur as the starting point, rather than a market opportunity ....

 approach. The concept of molecular recognition
Molecular recognition
The term molecular recognition refers to the specific interaction between two or more molecules through noncovalent bonding such as hydrogen bonding, metal coordination, hydrophobic forces, van der Waals forces, π-π interactions, electrostatic and/or electromagnetic effects...

 is especially important: molecules can be designed so that a specific configuration or arrangement is favored due to non-covalent
Noncovalent bonding
A noncovalent bond is a type of chemical bond, typically between macromolecules, that does not involve the sharing of pairs of electrons, but rather involves more dispersed variations of electromagnetic interactions. The noncovalent bond is the dominant type of bond between supermolecules in...

 intermolecular force
Intermolecular force
Intermolecular forces are forces of attraction or repulsion which act between neighboring particles: atoms, molecules or ions. They are weak compared to the intramolecular forces, the forces which keep a molecule together...

s. The Watson–Crick basepairing
Base pair
In molecular biology and genetics, the linking between two nitrogenous bases on opposite complementary DNA or certain types of RNA strands that are connected via hydrogen bonds is called a base pair...

 rules are a direct result of this, as is the specificity of an enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

 being targeted to a single substrate
Substrate (biochemistry)
In biochemistry, a substrate is a molecule upon which an enzyme acts. Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions involving the substrate. In the case of a single substrate, the substrate binds with the enzyme active site, and an enzyme-substrate complex is formed. The substrate is transformed into one or...

, or the specific folding of the protein
Protein folding
Protein folding is the process by which a protein structure assumes its functional shape or conformation. It is the physical process by which a polypeptide folds into its characteristic and functional three-dimensional structure from random coil....

 itself. Thus, two or more components can be designed to be complementary and mutually attractive so that they make a more complex and useful whole.

Such bottom-up approaches should be capable of producing devices in parallel and be much cheaper than top-down methods, but could potentially be overwhelmed as the size and complexity of the desired assembly increases. Most useful structures require complex and thermodynamically unlikely arrangements of atoms. Nevertheless, there are many examples of self-assembly based on molecular recognition in biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, most notably Watson–Crick basepairing
Base pair
In molecular biology and genetics, the linking between two nitrogenous bases on opposite complementary DNA or certain types of RNA strands that are connected via hydrogen bonds is called a base pair...

 and enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

-substrate
Substrate (biochemistry)
In biochemistry, a substrate is a molecule upon which an enzyme acts. Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions involving the substrate. In the case of a single substrate, the substrate binds with the enzyme active site, and an enzyme-substrate complex is formed. The substrate is transformed into one or...

 interactions. The challenge for nanotechnology is whether these principles can be used to engineer new constructs in addition to natural ones.

Molecular nanotechnology: a long-term view


Molecular nanotechnology, sometimes called molecular manufacturing, describes engineered nanosystems (nanoscale machines) operating on the molecular scale. Molecular nanotechnology is especially associated with the molecular assembler
Molecular assembler
A molecular assembler, as defined by K. Eric Drexler, is a "proposed device able to guide chemical reactions by positioning reactive molecules with atomic precision". Some biological molecules such as ribosomes fit this definition. This is because they receive instructions from messenger RNA and...

, a machine that can produce a desired structure or device atom-by-atom using the principles of mechanosynthesis
Mechanosynthesis
Mechanosynthesis is any chemical synthesis in which reaction outcomes are determined by the use of mechanical constraints to direct reactive molecules to specific molecular sites.-Introduction:...

. Manufacturing in the context of productive nanosystems
Productive nanosystems
The defines "productive nanosystems" as functional nanometer-scale systems that make atomically-specified structures and devices under programmatic control, i.e. they perform manufacturing to atomic precision....

 is not related to, and should be clearly distinguished from, the conventional technologies used to manufacture nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles.

When the term "nanotechnology" was independently coined and popularized by Eric Drexler (who at the time was unaware of an earlier usage
History of nanotechnology
The history of nanotechnology traces the development of the concepts and experimental work falling under the broad category of nanotechnology. Although nanotechnology is a relatively recent development in scientific research, the development of its central concepts happened over a longer period of...

 by Norio Taniguchi
Norio Taniguchi
was a professor of Tokyo University of Science. He coined the term nano-technology in 1974 to describe semiconductor processes such as thin film deposition and ion beam milling exhibiting characteristic control on the order of a nanometer: "Nano-technology' mainly consists of the processing of...

) it referred to a future manufacturing technology based on molecular machine
Molecular machine
A molecular machine, or nanomachine, is any discrete number of molecular components that produce quasi-mechanical movements in response to specific stimuli . The expression is often more generally applied to molecules that simply mimic functions that occur at the macroscopic level...

 systems. The premise was that molecular scale biological analogies of traditional machine components demonstrated molecular machines were possible: by the countless examples found in biology, it is known that sophisticated, stochastic
Stochastic
Stochastic refers to systems whose behaviour is intrinsically non-deterministic. A stochastic process is one whose behavior is non-deterministic, in that a system's subsequent state is determined both by the process's predictable actions and by a random element. However, according to M. Kac and E...

ally optimised biological machines can be produced.

It is hoped that developments in nanotechnology will make possible their construction by some other means, perhaps using biomimetic principles. However, Drexler and other researchers have proposed that advanced nanotechnology, although perhaps initially implemented by biomimetic means, ultimately could be based on mechanical engineering principles, namely, a manufacturing technology based on the mechanical functionality of these components (such as gears, bearings, motors, and structural members) that would enable programmable, positional assembly to atomic specification. The physics and engineering performance of exemplar designs were analyzed in Drexler's book Nanosystems.

In general it is very difficult to assemble devices on the atomic scale, as all one has to position atoms on other atoms of comparable size and stickiness. Another view, put forth by Carlo Montemagno, is that future nanosystems will be hybrids of silicon technology and biological molecular machines. Yet another view, put forward by the late Richard Smalley
Richard Smalley
Richard Errett Smalley was the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry and a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University, in Houston, Texas...

, is that mechanosynthesis is impossible due to the difficulties in mechanically manipulating individual molecules.

This led to an exchange of letters in the ACS
American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society is a scientific society based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry. Founded in 1876 at New York University, the ACS currently has more than 161,000 members at all degree-levels and in all fields of chemistry, chemical...

 publication Chemical & Engineering News
Chemical & Engineering News
Chemical & Engineering News is a weekly magazine published by the American Chemical Society, providing professional and technical information in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering...

 in 2003. Though biology clearly demonstrates that molecular machine systems are possible, non-biological molecular machines are today only in their infancy. Leaders in research on non-biological molecular machines are Dr. Alex Zettl
Alex Zettl
Alex Zettl is an American professor of experimental condensed-matter physics. His research involving the properties of novel materials have produced significant advances in the field.-Biography:...

 and his colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories and UC Berkeley. They have constructed at least three distinct molecular devices whose motion is controlled from the desktop with changing voltage: a nanotube nanomotor
Nanomotor
A nanomotor is a molecular device capable of converting energy into movement. It can typically generate forces on the order of piconewtons.A proposed branch of research is the integration of molecular motor proteins found in living cells into molecular motors implanted in artificial devices...

, a molecular actuator, and a nanoelectromechanical relaxation oscillator. See nanotube nanomotor
Nanotube nanomotor
A device generating linear or rotational motion using carbon nanotube as the primary component, is termed a nanotube nanomotor. Nature already has some of the most efficient and powerful kinds of nanomotors. Some of these natural biological nanomotors have been re-engineered to serve desired purposes...

 for more examples.

An experiment indicating that positional molecular assembly is possible was performed by Ho and Lee at Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 in 1999. They used a scanning tunneling microscope to move an individual carbon monoxide molecule (CO) to an individual iron atom (Fe) sitting on a flat silver crystal, and chemically bound the CO to the Fe by applying a voltage.

Current research



Nanomaterials


The nanomaterials field includes subfields which develop or study materials having unique properties arising from their nanoscale dimensions.
  • Interface and colloid science
    Interface and colloid science
    Interface and colloid science is an interdisciplinary intersection of branches of chemistry, physics, nanoscience and other fields dealing with colloids, heterogeneous systems consisting of a mechanical mixture of particles between 1 nm and 1000 nm dispersed in a continuous...

     has given rise to many materials which may be useful in nanotechnology, such as carbon nanotube
    Carbon nanotube
    Carbon nanotubes are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. Nanotubes have been constructed with length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1, significantly larger than for any other material...

    s and other fullerene
    Fullerene
    A fullerene is any molecule composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube. Spherical fullerenes are also called buckyballs, and they resemble the balls used in association football. Cylindrical ones are called carbon nanotubes or buckytubes...

    s, and various nanoparticle
    Nanoparticle
    In nanotechnology, a particle is defined as a small object that behaves as a whole unit in terms of its transport and properties. Particles are further classified according to size : in terms of diameter, coarse particles cover a range between 10,000 and 2,500 nanometers. Fine particles are sized...

    s and nanorod
    Nanorod
    In nanotechnology, nanorods are one morphology of nanoscale objects. Each of their dimensions range from 1–100 nm. They may be synthesized from metals or semiconducting materials. Standard aspect ratios are 3-5. Nanorods are produced by direct chemical synthesis...

    s. Nanomaterials with fast ion transport are related also to nanoionics
    Nanoionics
    Nanoionics is the study and application of phenomena, properties, effects and mechanisms of processes connected with fast ion transport in all-solid-state nanoscale systems. The topics of interest include fundamental properties of oxide ceramics at nanometer length scales, and fast ion conductor...

     and nanoelectronics
    Nanoelectronics
    Nanoelectronics refer to the use of nanotechnology on electronic components, especially transistors. Although the term nanotechnology is generally defined as utilizing technology less than 100 nm in size, nanoelectronics often refer to transistor devices that are so small that inter-atomic...

    .
  • Nanoscale materials
    Nanomaterials
    Nanomaterials is a field that takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology. It studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions...

     can also be used for bulk applications; most present commercial applications of nanotechnology are of this flavor.
  • Progress has been made in using these materials for medical applications; see Nanomedicine
    Nanomedicine
    Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology. Nanomedicine ranges from the medical applications of nanomaterials, to nanoelectronic biosensors, and even possible future applications of molecular nanotechnology. Current problems for nanomedicine involve understanding the issues related...

    .
  • Nanoscale materials
    Nanomaterials
    Nanomaterials is a field that takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology. It studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions...

     are sometimes used in solar cells which combats the cost of traditional Silicon
    Silicon
    Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

     solar cells
  • Development of applications incorporating semiconductor nanoparticles to be used in the next generation of products, such as display technology, lighting, solar cells and biological imaging; see quantum dots.

Bottom-up approaches


These seek to arrange smaller components into more complex assemblies.
  • DNA nanotechnology
    DNA nanotechnology
    DNA nanotechnology is a branch of nanotechnology which uses the molecular recognition properties of DNA and other nucleic acids to create designed, artificial structures out of DNA for technological purposes. In this field, DNA is used as a structural material rather than as a carrier of genetic...

     utilizes the specificity of Watson–Crick basepairing
    Base pair
    In molecular biology and genetics, the linking between two nitrogenous bases on opposite complementary DNA or certain types of RNA strands that are connected via hydrogen bonds is called a base pair...

     to construct well-defined structures out of DNA
    DNA
    Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

     and other nucleic acid
    Nucleic acid
    Nucleic acids are biological molecules essential for life, and include DNA and RNA . Together with proteins, nucleic acids make up the most important macromolecules; each is found in abundance in all living things, where they function in encoding, transmitting and expressing genetic information...

    s.
  • Approaches from the field of "classical" chemical synthesis
    Chemical synthesis
    In chemistry, chemical synthesis is purposeful execution of chemical reactions to get a product, or several products. This happens by physical and chemical manipulations usually involving one or more reactions...

     (inorganic and organic synthesis
    Organic synthesis
    Organic synthesis is a special branch of chemical synthesis and is concerned with the construction of organic compounds via organic reactions. Organic molecules can often contain a higher level of complexity compared to purely inorganic compounds, so the synthesis of organic compounds has...

    ) also aim at designing molecules with well-defined shape (e.g. bis-peptide
    Bis-peptide
    Bis-peptides are analogues of peptides, but consist of bis-amino acids, which bear two carboxyl groups and two amino groups. The connection of specific bis-amino acids leads to the formation of bis-peptides with well-defined molecular shape, which is of great interest for designing...

    s).
  • More generally, molecular self-assembly
    Molecular self-assembly
    Molecular self-assembly is the process by which molecules adopt a defined arrangement without guidance or management from an outside source. There are two types of self-assembly, intramolecular self-assembly and intermolecular self-assembly...

     seeks to use concepts of supramolecular chemistry
    Supramolecular chemistry
    Supramolecular chemistry refers to the area of chemistry beyond the molecules and focuses on the chemical systems made up of a discrete number of assembled molecular subunits or components...

    , and molecular recognition
    Molecular recognition
    The term molecular recognition refers to the specific interaction between two or more molecules through noncovalent bonding such as hydrogen bonding, metal coordination, hydrophobic forces, van der Waals forces, π-π interactions, electrostatic and/or electromagnetic effects...

     in particular, to cause single-molecule components to automatically arrange themselves into some useful conformation.
  • Atomic force microscope
    Atomic force microscope
    Atomic force microscopy or scanning force microscopy is a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscopy, with demonstrated resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer, more than 1000 times better than the optical diffraction limit...

     tips can be used as a nanoscale "write head" to deposit a chemical upon a surface in a desired pattern in a process called dip pen nanolithography
    Dip Pen Nanolithography
    Dip Pen Nanolithography began as a scanning probe lithography technique where an atomic force microscope tip was used to transfer alkane thiolates to a gold surface. This technique allows surface patterning on scales of under 100 nanometers...

    . This technique fits into the larger subfield of nanolithography
    Nanolithography
    Nanolithography is the branch of nanotechnology concerned with the study and application of fabricating nanometer-scale structures, meaning patterns with at least one lateral dimension between the size of an individual atom and approximately 100 nm...

    .

Top-down approaches


These seek to create smaller devices by using larger ones to direct their assembly.
  • Many technologies that descended from conventional solid-state silicon methods
    Semiconductor fabrication
    Semiconductor device fabrication is the process used to create the integrated circuits that are present in everyday electrical and electronic devices. It is a multiple-step sequence of photolithographic and chemical processing steps during which electronic circuits are gradually created on a wafer...

     for fabricating microprocessor
    Microprocessor
    A microprocessor incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit on a single integrated circuit, or at most a few integrated circuits. It is a multipurpose, programmable device that accepts digital data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and...

    s are now capable of creating features smaller than 100 nm, falling under the definition of nanotechnology. Giant magnetoresistance-based hard drives already on the market fit this description, as do atomic layer deposition
    Atomic layer deposition
    Atomic layer deposition is a thin film deposition technique that is based on the sequential use of a gas phase chemical process. The majority of ALD reactions use two chemicals, typically called precursors. These precursors react with a surface one-at-a-time in a sequential manner...

     (ALD) techniques. Peter Grünberg
    Peter Grünberg
    Peter Andreas Grünberg is a German physicist, and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his discovery with Albert Fert of giant magnetoresistance which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disk drives.-Biography:...

     and Albert Fert
    Albert Fert
    Albert Fert is a French physicist and one of the discoverers of giant magnetoresistance which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disks...

     received the Nobel Prize in Physics
    Nobel Prize in Physics
    The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

     in 2007 for their discovery of Giant magnetoresistance and contributions to the field of spintronics.
  • Solid-state techniques can also be used to create devices known as nanoelectromechanical systems
    Nanoelectromechanical systems
    Nanoelectromechanical systems are devices integrating electrical and mechanical functionality on the nanoscale. NEMS form the logical next miniaturization step from so-called microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS devices...

     or NEMS, which are related to microelectromechanical systems
    Microelectromechanical systems
    Microelectromechanical systems is the technology of very small mechanical devices driven by electricity; it merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems and nanotechnology...

     or MEMS.
  • Focused ion beam
    Focused ion beam
    Focused ion beam, also known as FIB, is a technique used particularly in the semiconductor industry, materials science and increasingly in the biological field for site-specific analysis, deposition, and ablation of materials. An FIB setup is a scientific instrument that resembles a scanning...

    s can directly remove material, or even deposit material when suitable pre-cursor gasses are applied at the same time. For example, this technique is used routinely to create sub-100 nm sections of material for analysis in Transmission electron microscopy
    Transmission electron microscopy
    Transmission electron microscopy is a microscopy technique whereby a beam of electrons is transmitted through an ultra thin specimen, interacting with the specimen as it passes through...

    .
  • Atomic force microscope
    Atomic force microscope
    Atomic force microscopy or scanning force microscopy is a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscopy, with demonstrated resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer, more than 1000 times better than the optical diffraction limit...

     tips can be used as a nanoscale "write head" to deposit a resist, which is then followed by an etching process to remove material in a top-down method.

Functional approaches


These seek to develop components of a desired functionality without regard to how they might be assembled.
  • Molecular scale electronics seeks to develop molecules with useful electronic properties. These could then be used as single-molecule components in a nanoelectronic device. For an example see rotaxane
    Rotaxane
    A rotaxane is a mechanically-interlocked molecular architecture consisting of a "dumbbell shaped molecule" which is threaded through a "macrocycle" . The name is derived from the Latin for wheel and axle...

    .
  • Synthetic chemical methods can also be used to create synthetic molecular motors
    Synthetic molecular motors
    Synthetic molecular motors are molecular machines capable of rotation under energy input. Although the term "molecular motor" has traditionally referred to a naturally occurring protein that induces motion , some groups also use the term when referring to non-biological, non-peptide synthetic...

    , such as in a so-called nanocar
    Nanocar
    The nanocar is a molecule designed in 2005 at Rice University by a group headed by Professor James Tour. Despite the name, the original nanocar does not contain a molecular motor, hence, it is not really a car...

    .

Biomimetic approaches

  • Bionics
    Bionics
    Bionics is the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology.The word bionic was coined by Jack E...

     or biomimicry
    Biomimicry
    Biomimicry or biomimetics is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate...

     seeks to apply biological methods and systems found in nature, to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology. Biomineralization is one example of the systems studied.

  • Bionanotechnology is the use of biomolecules for applications in nanotechnology, including use of viruses. Nanocellulose
    Nanocellulose
    Nanocellulose or microfibrillated cellulose , is a material composed of nanosized cellulose fibrils with a high aspect ratio . Typical dimensions are 5–20 nanometers width and length up to 2000 nanometers. It is pseudo-plastic...

     is a potential bulk-scale application.

Speculative


These subfields seek to anticipate what inventions nanotechnology might yield, or attempt to propose an agenda along which inquiry might progress. These often take a big-picture view of nanotechnology, with more emphasis on its societal implications
Implications of nanotechnology
The impact of nanotechnology extend from its medical, ethical, mental, legal and environmental applications, to fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, computing, materials science, military applications, and communications....

 than the details of how such inventions could actually be created.
  • Molecular nanotechnology
    Molecular nanotechnology
    Molecular nanotechnology is a technology based on the ability to build structures to complex, atomic specifications by means of mechanosynthesis. This is distinct from nanoscale materials...

     is a proposed approach which involves manipulating single molecules in finely controlled, deterministic ways. This is more theoretical than the other subfields and is beyond current capabilities.
  • Nanorobotics
    Nanorobotics
    Nanorobotics is the emerging technology field of creating machines or robots whose components are at or close to the scale of a nanometer . More specifically, nanorobotics refers to the nanotechnology engineering discipline of designing and building nanorobots, with devices ranging in size from...

     centers on self-sufficient machines of some functionality operating at the nanoscale. There are hopes for applying nanorobots in medicine, but it may not be easy to do such a thing because of several drawbacks of such devices. Nevertheless, progress on innovative materials and methodologies has been demonstrated with some patents granted about new nanomanufacturing devices for future commercial applications, which also progressively helps in the development towards nanorobots with the use of embedded nanobioelectronics concepts.
  • Productive nanosystems
    Productive nanosystems
    The defines "productive nanosystems" as functional nanometer-scale systems that make atomically-specified structures and devices under programmatic control, i.e. they perform manufacturing to atomic precision....

     are "systems of nanosystems" which will be complex nanosystems that produce atomically precise parts for other nanosystems, not necessarily using novel nanoscale-emergent properties, but well-understood fundamentals of manufacturing. Because of the discrete (i.e. atomic) nature of matter and the possibility of exponential growth, this stage is seen as the basis of another industrial revolution. Mihail Roco
    Mihail Roco
    Mihail Roco is the chair of the US National Science and Technology Council subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology , and is Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation...

    , one of the architects of the USA's National Nanotechnology Initiative, has proposed four states of nanotechnology that seem to parallel the technical progress of the Industrial Revolution, progressing from passive nanostructures to active nanodevices to complex nanomachines and ultimately to productive nanosystems.
  • Programmable matter
    Programmable matter
    Programmable matter refers to matter which has the ability to change its physical properties in a programmable fashion, based upon user input or autonomous sensing...

     seeks to design materials whose properties can be easily, reversibly and externally controlled though a fusion of information science
    Information science
    -Introduction:Information science is an interdisciplinary science primarily concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information...

     and materials science
    Materials science
    Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

    .
  • Due to the popularity and media exposure of the term nanotechnology, the words picotechnology
    Picotechnology
    The term picotechnology is a neologism intended to parallel the term nanotechnology. It is a hypothetical future level of technological manipulation of matter, on the scale of trillionths of a meter...

     and femtotechnology
    Femtotechnology
    Femtotechnology is a hypothetical term used in reference to structuring of matter on a femtometer, which is 10-15 m. This is a smaller scale in comparison to nanotechnology and picotechnology which are 10-9 m and 10-12 m respectively...

     have been coined in analogy to it, although these are only used rarely and informally.

Tools and techniques


There are several important modern developments. The atomic force microscope
Atomic force microscope
Atomic force microscopy or scanning force microscopy is a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscopy, with demonstrated resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer, more than 1000 times better than the optical diffraction limit...

 (AFM) and the Scanning Tunneling Microscope
Scanning tunneling microscope
A scanning tunneling microscope is an instrument for imaging surfaces at the atomic level. Its development in 1981 earned its inventors, Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer , the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. For an STM, good resolution is considered to be 0.1 nm lateral resolution and...

 (STM) are two early versions of scanning probes that launched nanotechnology. There are other types of scanning probe microscopy
Scanning probe microscopy
Scanning Probe Microscopy is a branch of microscopy that forms images of surfaces using a physical probe that scans the specimen. An image of the surface is obtained by mechanically moving the probe in a raster scan of the specimen, line by line, and recording the probe-surface interaction as a...

, all flowing from the ideas of the scanning confocal microscope developed by Marvin Minsky
Marvin Minsky
Marvin Lee Minsky is an American cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence , co-founder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory, and author of several texts on AI and philosophy.-Biography:...

 in 1961 and the scanning acoustic microscope
Scanning acoustic microscope
A Scanning Acoustic Microscope is a device which uses focused sound to investigate, measure, or image an object . It is commonly used in failure analysis and non-destructive evaluation. It also has applications in biological and medical research...

 (SAM) developed by Calvin Quate
Calvin Quate
Calvin F. Quate was born on 7 December 1923 in Baker, Nevada. He is one of the inventors of the atomic force microscope. He is a professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University....

 and coworkers in the 1970s, that made it possible to see structures at the nanoscale.

The tip of a scanning probe can also be used to manipulate nanostructures (a process called positional assembly). Feature-oriented scanning
Feature-oriented scanning
Feature-oriented scanning is a method of precision measurement of surface topography with a scanning probe microscope in which surface features are used as reference points for microscope probe attachment...

 methodology suggested by Rostislav Lapshin appears to be a promising way to implement these nanomanipulations in automatic mode. However, this is still a slow process because of low scanning velocity of the microscope.

Various techniques of nanolithography
Nanolithography
Nanolithography is the branch of nanotechnology concerned with the study and application of fabricating nanometer-scale structures, meaning patterns with at least one lateral dimension between the size of an individual atom and approximately 100 nm...

 such as optical lithography, X-ray lithography
X-ray lithography
300px|thumbX-ray lithography, is a process used in electronic industry to selectively remove parts of a thin film. It uses X-rays to transfer a geometric pattern from a mask to a light-sensitive chemical photoresist, or simply "resist," on the substrate...

 dip pen nanolithography
Dip Pen Nanolithography
Dip Pen Nanolithography began as a scanning probe lithography technique where an atomic force microscope tip was used to transfer alkane thiolates to a gold surface. This technique allows surface patterning on scales of under 100 nanometers...

, electron beam lithography
Electron beam lithography
Electron beam lithography is the practice of emitting a beam of electrons in a patterned fashion across a surface covered with a film , and of selectively removing either exposed or non-exposed regions of the resist...

 or nanoimprint lithography
Nanoimprint Lithography
Nanoimprint lithography is a method of fabricating nanometer scale patterns. It is a simple nanolithography process with low cost, high throughput and high resolution. It creates patterns by mechanical deformation of imprint resist and subsequent processes. The imprint resist is typically a monomer...

 were also developed. Lithography is a top-down fabrication technique where a bulk material is reduced in size to nanoscale pattern.

Another group of nanotechnological techniques include those used for fabrication of nanotubes
Ion track technology (track etching)
1) Sensitizers increase the track etch ratio by breaking bonds or by increasing the free volume.2) Desensitizers decrease the track etch ratio. Alternatively ion tracks can be thermally annealed....

 and nanowires
Ion track technology (track replication)
-Replication of ion tracks:...

, those used in semiconductor fabrication such as deep ultraviolet lithography, electron beam lithography, focused ion beam
Focused ion beam
Focused ion beam, also known as FIB, is a technique used particularly in the semiconductor industry, materials science and increasingly in the biological field for site-specific analysis, deposition, and ablation of materials. An FIB setup is a scientific instrument that resembles a scanning...

 machining, nanoimprint lithography, atomic layer deposition, and molecular vapor deposition, and further including molecular self-assembly techniques such as those employing di-block copolymers. However, all of these techniques preceded the nanotech era, and are extensions in the development of scientific advancements rather than techniques which were devised with the sole purpose of creating nanotechnology and which were results of nanotechnology research.

The top-down approach anticipates nanodevices that must be built piece by piece in stages, much as manufactured items are made. Scanning probe microscopy
Scanning probe microscopy
Scanning Probe Microscopy is a branch of microscopy that forms images of surfaces using a physical probe that scans the specimen. An image of the surface is obtained by mechanically moving the probe in a raster scan of the specimen, line by line, and recording the probe-surface interaction as a...

 is an important technique both for characterization and synthesis of nanomaterials. Atomic force microscope
Atomic force microscope
Atomic force microscopy or scanning force microscopy is a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscopy, with demonstrated resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer, more than 1000 times better than the optical diffraction limit...

s and scanning tunneling microscope
Scanning tunneling microscope
A scanning tunneling microscope is an instrument for imaging surfaces at the atomic level. Its development in 1981 earned its inventors, Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer , the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. For an STM, good resolution is considered to be 0.1 nm lateral resolution and...

s can be used to look at surfaces and to move atoms around. By designing different tips for these microscopes, they can be used for carving out structures on surfaces and to help guide self-assembling structures. By using, for example, feature-oriented scanning
Feature-oriented scanning
Feature-oriented scanning is a method of precision measurement of surface topography with a scanning probe microscope in which surface features are used as reference points for microscope probe attachment...

 approach, atoms or molecules can be moved around on a surface with scanning probe microscopy techniques. At present, it is expensive and time-consuming for mass production but very suitable for laboratory experimentation.

In contrast, bottom-up techniques build or grow larger structures atom by atom or molecule by molecule. These techniques include chemical synthesis
Chemical synthesis
In chemistry, chemical synthesis is purposeful execution of chemical reactions to get a product, or several products. This happens by physical and chemical manipulations usually involving one or more reactions...

, self-assembly
Self-assembly
Self-assembly is a term used to describe processes in which a disordered system of pre-existing components forms an organized structure or pattern as a consequence of specific, local interactions among the components themselves, without external direction...

 and positional assembly. Dual polarisation interferometry
Dual Polarisation Interferometry
Dual polarization interferometry is an analytical technique that can probe molecular scale layers adsorbed to the surface of a waveguide by using the evanescent wave of a laser beam confined to the waveguide...

 is one tool suitable for characterisation of self assembled thin films. Another variation of the bottom-up approach is molecular beam epitaxy
Molecular beam epitaxy
Molecular beam epitaxy is one of several methods of depositing single crystals. It was invented in the late 1960s at Bell Telephone Laboratories by J. R. Arthur and Alfred Y. Cho.-Method:...

 or MBE. Researchers at Bell Telephone Laboratories like John R. Arthur. Alfred Y. Cho, and Art C. Gossard developed and implemented MBE as a research tool in the late 1960s and 1970s. Samples made by MBE were key to the discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect for which the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 was awarded. MBE allows scientists to lay down atomically precise layers of atoms and, in the process, build up complex structures. Important for research on semiconductors, MBE is also widely used to make samples and devices for the newly emerging field of spintronics
Spintronics
Spintronics , also known as magnetoelectronics, is an emerging technology that exploits both the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electronic charge, in solid-state devices.An additional effect occurs when a spin-polarized current is...

.

However, new therapeutic products, based on responsive nanomaterials, such as the ultradeformable, stress-sensitive Transfersome
Transfersome
Transfersome is a term registered as a trademark by the German company IDEA AG, and used by it to refer to its proprietary drug delivery technology. The name means “carrying body”, and is derived from the Latin word 'transferre', meaning ‘to carry across’, and the Greek word ‘soma’, for a ‘body’...

 vesicles, are under development and already approved for human use in some countries.

Applications


As of August 21, 2008, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was established in 2005 as a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Project is intended to address the social, political, and public safety aspects of nanotechnology...

 estimates that over 800 manufacturer-identified nanotech products are publicly available, with new ones hitting the market at a pace of 3–4 per week. The project lists all of the products in a publicly accessible online database. Most applications are limited to the use of "first generation" passive nanomaterials which includes titanium dioxide in sunscreen, cosmetics, surface coatings, and some food products; Carbon allotropes used to produce gecko tape
Gecko tape
Gecko tape is a new material still at the development stage. Directional adhesion refers to the ability of an adhesive material to grip a load in one direction and to release its grip when the direction is reversed....

; silver in food packaging, clothing, disinfectants and household appliances; zinc oxide in sunscreens and cosmetics, surface coatings, paints and outdoor furniture varnishes; and cerium oxide as a fuel catalyst.

The National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

 (a major distributor for nanotechnology research in the United States) funded researcher David Berube to study the field of nanotechnology. His findings are published in the monograph Nano-Hype: The Truth Behind the Nanotechnology Buzz. This study concludes that much of what is sold as “nanotechnology” is in fact a recasting of straightforward materials science, which is leading to a “nanotech industry built solely on selling nanotubes, nanowires, and the like” which will “end up with a few suppliers selling low margin products in huge volumes." Further applications which require actual manipulation or arrangement of nanoscale components await further research. Though technologies branded with the term 'nano' are sometimes little related to and fall far short of the most ambitious and transformative technological goals of the sort in molecular manufacturing proposals, the term still connotes such ideas. According to Berube, there may be a danger that a "nano bubble" will form, or is forming already, from the use of the term by scientists and entrepreneurs to garner funding, regardless of interest in the transformative possibilities of more ambitious and far-sighted work.

Nanoproducts


Nanoproducts are considered to be consumer goods that have been enhanced by nanotechnology in some form.

The consumer
Consumer
Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer occurs in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.-Economics and marketing:...

 world is seeing more products being released that have been enhanced with nanotechnology. Experts claim that the most immediate impact of nanotechnology is with everyday consumer products. There are numerous amount of products that have been enhanced with nanotechnology. Tennis ball
Tennis ball
A tennis ball is a ball designed for the sport of tennis,approximately 6.7 cm in diameter. Tennis balls are generally bright green, but in recreational play can be virtually any color. Tennis balls are covered in a fibrous fluffy felt which modifies their aerodynamic properties...

s last longer, golf ball
Golf ball
A golf ball is a ball designed to be used in the game of golf.Under the Rules of Golf, a golf ball weighs no more than 1.620 oz , has a diameter not less than 1.680 in , and performs within specified velocity, distance, and symmetry limits...

s fly straighter, even bowling ball
Bowling ball
A bowling ball is a spherical ball made from plastic, reactive resin, urethane or a combination of these materials which is used in the sport of bowling. Ten-pin bowling balls generally have a set of three holes drilled in them, one each for the ring and middle finger, and one for the thumb;...

s become more endurable and have a harder surface to them. Trousers and socks
SOCKS
SOCKS is an Internet protocol that routes network packets between a client and server through a proxy server. SOCKS5 additionally provides authentication so only authorized users may access a server...

 have been infused with nanotechnology so that they will last longer and keep people cool in the summer. Arcade-size video games of yesteryear have been replaced with games like Madden NFL 2005
Madden NFL 2005
Madden NFL 2005 is an American football video game that was released on August 9, 2004. It features Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis on the cover...

, Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto (series)
Grand Theft Auto is a multi-award-winning British video game series created in the United Kingdom by Dave Jones, then later by brothers Dan Houser and Sam Houser, and game designer Zachary Clarke. It is primarily developed by Edinburgh based Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games...

, and Halo 2
Halo 2
Halo 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie Studios. Released for the Xbox video game console on November 9, 2004, the game is the second installment in the Halo franchise and the sequel to 2001's critically acclaimed Halo: Combat Evolved...

for the PlayStation
PlayStation
The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan on December 3, .The PlayStation was the first of the PlayStation series of consoles and handheld game devices. The PlayStation 2 was the console's successor in 2000...

, Xbox
Xbox
The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console...

, and Nintendo Game Cube thanks to nanotechnology.

Nano-scale manufacturing techniques have revolutionized consumer electronics and are responsible for such products as BlackBerries
BlackBerry
BlackBerry is a line of mobile email and smartphone devices developed and designed by Canadian company Research In Motion since 1999.BlackBerry devices are smartphones, designed to function as personal digital assistants, portable media players, internet browsers, gaming devices, and much more...

, flash drives, digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

s, and MP3
MP3
MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

 players. Bandage
Bandage
A bandage is a piece of material used either to support a medical device such as a dressing or splint, or on its own to provide support to the body; they can also be used to restrict a part of the body. During heavy bleeding or following a poisonous bite it is important to slow the flow of blood,...

s are being infused with silver nanoparticle
Nanoparticle
In nanotechnology, a particle is defined as a small object that behaves as a whole unit in terms of its transport and properties. Particles are further classified according to size : in terms of diameter, coarse particles cover a range between 10,000 and 2,500 nanometers. Fine particles are sized...

s to heal cuts faster.

Cars are being manufactured with nanomaterials so they may need fewer metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

s and less fuel
Fuel
Fuel is any material that stores energy that can later be extracted to perform mechanical work in a controlled manner. Most fuels used by humans undergo combustion, a redox reaction in which a combustible substance releases energy after it ignites and reacts with the oxygen in the air...

 to operate in the future. Video game console
Video game console
A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to display a video game...

s and personal computer
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

s may become cheaper, faster, and contain more memory thanks to nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may have the ability to make existing medical applications cheaper and easier to use in places like the general practitioner
General practitioner
A general practitioner is a medical practitioner who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education for all ages and both sexes. They have particular skills in treating people with multiple health issues and comorbidities...

's office and at home.

Implications


Because of the far-ranging claims that have been made about potential applications of nanotechnology, a number of serious concerns have been raised about what effects these will have on our society if realized, and what action if any is appropriate to mitigate these risks.

There are possible dangers that arise with the development of nanotechnology. The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology is a non-profit research and advocacy organization with a focus on molecular manufacturing and its possible effects, both positive and negative...

 suggests that new developments could result, among other things, in untraceable weapons of mass destruction, networked cameras for use by the government, and weapons developments fast enough to destabilize arms races ("Nanotechnology Basics").

Public deliberations
Deliberation
Deliberation is a process of thoughtfully weighing options, usually prior to voting. In legal settings a jury famously uses deliberation because it is given specific options, like guilty or not guilty, along with information and arguments to evaluate. Deliberation emphasizes the use of logic and...

 on risk perception
Risk perception
Risk perception is the subjective judgment that people make about the characteristics and severity of a risk. The phrase is most commonly used in reference to natural hazards and threats to the environment or health, such as nuclear power. Several theories have been proposed to explain why...

 in the US and UK carried out by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society
Center for Nanotechnology in Society
The Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of California at Santa Barbara is funded by the National Science Foundation and "serves as a national research and education center, a network hub among researchers and educators concerned with societal issues concerning nanotechnologies,...

 at UCSB found that participants were more positive about nanotechnologies for energy than health applications, with health applications raising moral and ethical dilemmas such as cost and availability.

One area of concern is the effect that industrial-scale manufacturing and use of nanomaterials
Nanomaterials
Nanomaterials is a field that takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology. It studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions...

 would have on human health and the environment, as suggested by nanotoxicology
Nanotoxicology
Nanotoxicology is the study of the toxicity of nanomaterials. Because of quantum size effects and large surface area to volume ratio, nanomaterials have unique properties compared with their larger counterparts....

 research. Groups such as the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology have advocated that nanotechnology should be specially regulated
Nanosocialism
Nanosocialism refers generally to a set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the research, development and use of nanotechnology.- Politics :...

 by governments for these reasons. Others counter that overregulation would stifle scientific research and the development of innovations which could greatly benefit mankind.

Other experts, including director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was established in 2005 as a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Project is intended to address the social, political, and public safety aspects of nanotechnology...

 David Rejeski, have testified that successful commercialization depends on adequate oversight, risk research strategy, and public engagement. Berkeley, California
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

 is currently the only city in the United States to regulate nanotechnology; Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

 in 2008 considered enacting a similar law, but ultimately rejected this.

Health and environmental concerns



Some of the recently developed nanoparticle products may have unintended consequences
Unintended Consequences
Unintended Consequences is a novel by John Ross, first published in 1996 by Accurate Press. The story chronicles the history of the gun culture, gun rights and gun control in the United States from the early 1900s through the late 1990s...

. Researchers have discovered that silver nanoparticles used in socks only to reduce foot odor are being released in the wash with possible negative consequences. Silver nanoparticles, which are bacteriostatic, may then destroy beneficial bacteria which are important for breaking down organic matter in waste treatment plants or farms.

A study at the University of Rochester
University of Rochester
The University of Rochester is a private, nonsectarian, research university in Rochester, New York, United States. The university grants undergraduate and graduate degrees, including doctoral and professional degrees. The university has six schools and various interdisciplinary programs.The...

 found that when rats breathed in nanoparticles, the particles settled in the brain and lungs, which led to significant increases in biomarkers for inflammation and stress response. A study in China indicated that nanoparticles induce skin aging through oxidative stress in hairless mice.

A two-year study at UCLA's School of Public Health found lab mice consuming nano-titanium dioxide showed DNA and chromosome damage to a degree "linked to all the big killers of man, namely cancer, heart disease, neurological disease and aging".

A major study published more recently in Nature Nanotechnology
Nature Nanotechnology
Nature Nanotechnology is a monthly, peer-reviewed, scientific journal, which is published by Nature Publishing Group. It was established in October 2006. The editor in chief is Peter Rodgers, a full-time professional editor who is employed by Nature Publishing Group...

 suggests some forms of carbon nanotubes – a poster child for the “nanotechnology revolution” – could be as harmful as asbestos
Asbestos
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals used commercially for their desirable physical properties. They all have in common their eponymous, asbestiform habit: long, thin fibrous crystals...

 if inhaled in sufficient quantities. Anthony Seaton of the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland, who contributed to the article on carbon nanotubes said "We know that some of them probably have the potential to cause mesothelioma. So those sorts of materials need to be handled very carefully." In the absence of specific nano-regulation forthcoming from governments, Paull and Lyons (2008) have called for an exclusion of engineered nanoparticles from organic food. A newspaper article reports that workers in a paint factory developed serious lung disease and nanoparticles were found in their lungs.

Regulation


Calls for tighter regulation of nanotechnology have occurred alongside a growing debate related to the human health and safety risks associated with nanotechnology. Furthermore, there is significant debate about who is responsible for the regulation of nanotechnology. While some non-nanotechnology specific regulatory agencies currently cover some products and processes (to varying degrees) – by “bolting on” nanotechnology to existing regulations – there are clear gaps in these regimes. In "Nanotechnology Oversight: An Agenda for the Next Administration," former EPA deputy administrator J. Clarence (Terry) Davies lays out a clear regulatory roadmap for the next presidential administration and describes the immediate and longer term steps necessary to deal with the current shortcomings of nanotechnology oversight.

Stakeholders concerned by the lack of a regulatory framework to assess and control risks associated with the release of nanoparticles and nanotubes have drawn parallels with bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy , commonly known as mad-cow disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord. BSE has a long incubation period, about 30 months to 8 years, usually affecting adult cattle at a peak age onset of...

 (‘mad cow’s disease), thalidomide
Thalidomide
Thalidomide was introduced as a sedative drug in the late 1950s that was typically used to cure morning sickness. In 1961, it was withdrawn due to teratogenicity and neuropathy. There is now a growing clinical interest in thalidomide, and it is introduced as an immunomodulatory agent used...

, genetically modified food, nuclear energy, reproductive technologies, biotechnology, and asbestosis
Asbestosis
Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory and fibrotic medical condition affecting the parenchymal tissue of the lungs caused by the inhalation and retention of asbestos fibers...

. Dr. Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor to the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was established in 2005 as a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Project is intended to address the social, political, and public safety aspects of nanotechnology...

, concludes (among others) that there is insufficient funding for human health and safety research, and as a result there is currently limited understanding of the human health and safety risks associated with nanotechnology. As a result, some academics have called for stricter application of the precautionary principle
Precautionary principle
The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those...

, with delayed marketing approval, enhanced labelling and additional safety data development requirements in relation to certain forms of nanotechnology.

The Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 report identified a risk of nanoparticles or nanotubes being released during disposal, destruction and recycling, and recommended that “manufacturers of products that fall under extended producer responsibility regimes such as end-of-life regulations publish procedures outlining how these materials will be managed to minimize possible human and environmental exposure” (p.xiii). Reflecting the challenges for ensuring responsible life cycle regulation, the Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards has proposed standards for nanotechnology research and development should be integrated across consumer, worker and environmental standards. They also propose that NGO
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

s and other citizen groups play a meaningful role in the development of these standards.

The Center for Nanotechnology in Society
Center for Nanotechnology in Society
The Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of California at Santa Barbara is funded by the National Science Foundation and "serves as a national research and education center, a network hub among researchers and educators concerned with societal issues concerning nanotechnologies,...

 at UCSB has found that people respond differently to nanotechnologies based upon application - with participants in public deliberations more positive about nanotechnologies for energy than health applications - suggesting that any public calls for nano regulations may differ by technology sector.

See also



  • Bionanoscience
  • Energy applications of nanotechnology
    Energy applications of nanotechnology
    Over the past few decades, the fields of science and engineering have been seeking to develop new and improved types of energy technologies that have the capability of improving life all over the world. In order to make the next leap forward from the current generation of technology, scientists...

  • List of emerging technologies
  • List of software for nanostructures modeling
  • Materiomics
    Materiomics
    Materiomics is defined as the study of the material properties of natural and synthetic materials by examining fundamental links between processes, structures and properties at multiple scales, from nano to macro, by using systematic experimental, theoretical or computational methods.The term has...

  • Molecular design software
    Molecular Design software
    Molecular design software is software for molecular modeling, that provides special support for developing molecular models de novo.In contrast to the usual molecular modeling programs such as the molecular dynamics and quantum chemistry programs, such software directly supports the aspects related...

  • Molecular mechanics
    Molecular mechanics
    Molecular mechanics uses Newtonian mechanics to model molecular systems. The potential energy of all systems in molecular mechanics is calculated using force fields...

  • Nanoengineering
    Nanoengineering
    Nanoengineering is the practice of engineering on the nanoscale. It derives its name from the nanometre, a unit of measurement equalling one billionth of a meter....

  • Nanobiotechnology
    Nanobiotechnology
    Bionanotechnology, nanobiotechnology, and nanobiology are terms that refer to the intersection of nanotechnology and biology. Given that the subject is one that has only emerged very recently, bionanotechnology and nanobiotechnology serve as blanket terms for various related technologies.This...

  • Nanofluidics
    Nanofluidics
    Nanofluidics is the study of the behavior, manipulation, and control of fluids that are confined to structures of nanometer characteristic dimensions...

  • Nanohub
    Nanohub
    nanoHUB.org is science cyberinfrastructure comprising community-contributed resources and geared toward educational applications, professional networking, and interactive simulation tools for nanotechnology...

  • Nanometrology
    Nanometrology
    Nanometrology is a subfield of metrology, concerned with the science of measurement at the nanoscale level. Nanometrology has a crucial role in order to produce nanomaterials and devices with a high degree of accuracy and reliability in nanomanufacturing....

  • Nanoscale networks
  • Nanotechnology education
    Nanotechnology education
    Nanotechnology education is being offered by more and more universities around the world. The first program involving nanotechnology was offered by the University of Toronto's Engineering Science program, where nanotechnology could be taken as an option...

  • Nanotechnology in water treatment
    Nanotechnology in water treatment
    Nanotechnology, the engineering and art of manipulating matter at the nanoscale , offers the potential of novel nanomaterials for the treatment of surface water, groundwater and wastewater contaminated by toxic metal ions, organic and inorganic solutes and microorganisms...

  • Nanothermite
  • Nanoweapons
    Nanoweapons
    Nanoweapons is the name given to military technology currently under development which seeks to exploit the power of nanotechnology in the modern battlefield....

  • Top-down and bottom-up
  • Translational research
    Translational research
    Translational research is a way of thinking about and conducting scientific research to make the results of research applicable to the population under study and is practised in the natural and biological, behavioural, and social sciences...

  • Wet nanotechnology


Further reading


  • "Basic Concepts of Nanotechnology" History of Nano-Technology, News, Materials, Potential Risks and Important People.
  • Medicalnanotec.com, Introduction to applications of Nanotechnology in Medicine.
  • Maynard, Andrew, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 2007. - "..a friendly, funny, 25-minute travel guide to the technology"
  • Fritz Allhoff and Patrick Lin (eds.), Nanotechnology & Society: Current and Emerging Ethical Issues (Dordrecht: Springer, 2008).
  • Fritz Allhoff, Patrick Lin, James Moor, and John Weckert (eds.)
  • J. Clarence Davies, EPA and Nanotechnology: Oversight for the 21st Century, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, PEN 9, May 2007.
  • Carl Marziali, "Little Big Science," USC Trojan Family Magazine, Winter 2007.
  • William Sims Bainbridge: Nanoconvergence: The Unity of Nanoscience, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Science, June 27, 2007, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-244643-X
  • Lynn E. Foster: Nanotechnology: Science, Innovation, and Opportunity, December 21, 2005, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-192756-6
  • Impact of Nanotechnology on Biomedical Sciences: Review of Current Concepts on Convergence of Nanotechnology With Biology by Herbert Ernest and Rahul Shetty, from AZojono, May 2005.
  • Hunt, G & Mehta, M (eds)(2008) Nanotechnology: Risk, Ethics & Law, Earthscan, London.
  • Andrew Schneider, The Nanotech Gamble, Growing Health Risks from Nanomaterials in Food and Medicine, First in a Three-Part Series, AOL News Special Report, March 24, 2010.
  • Hari Singh Nalwa (2004), Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (10-Volume Set), American Scientific Publishers. ISBN 1-58883-001-2
  • Michael Rieth and Wolfram Schommers (2006), Handbook of Theoretical and Computational Nanotechnology (10-Volume Set), American Scientific Publishers. ISBN 1-58883-042-X
  • Jumana Boussey, Georges Kamarinos, Laurent Montès (editors) (2003), Towards Nanotechnology, "Nano et Micro Technologies", Hermes Sciences Publ., Paris, ISBN 2-7462-0858-X.
  • The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (April, 2008), Regulating Emerging Technologies in Silicon Valley and Beyond
  • Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (January, 2008), Getting a Handle on Nanobiotech Products Regulators and Companies Are Laying the Groundwork for a Predicted Bright Future
  • RJ Aitken, SM Hankin, B Ross, CL Tran, V Stone, TF Fernandes, K Donaldson, R Duffin, Q Chaudhry, TA Wilkins, SA Wilkins, LS Levy, SA Rocks, A Maynard, EMERGNANO Report, Institute of Occupational Medicine
    Institute of Occupational Medicine
    The Institute of Occupational Medicine was founded in 1969 by the National Coal Board as an independent charity. The IOM is a major independent centre of scientific excellence in the fields of occupational health and environmental health, occupational hygiene and occupational safety...

    , Report TM/09/01 March 2009.


External links