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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Materials & technologies projects > Nanotechnology: a small science with a huge potential
Graphic element Nanotechnology: a small science with a huge potential


The prefix nano- signifies smallness. Nanotechnology refers to the nanometer-scale science and technology in which one nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a metre - around 80 000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. It is also the study and manipulation of tiny objects. Nanotechnology involves the control of materials at the nanoscale, encompassing both ultra-miniaturisation and molecular manufacturing techniques. Its potential contribution to commercial technologies - from microelectronics to healthcare - is both revolutionary and massive.

The scope of nanotechnology is by nature multi-disciplinary, signifying continuous development within the well-known science and technology disciplines. In the past decade, new physical and theoretical tools have enabled physicists, chemists and biologists to approach the nano-world from different directions. This convergence was made possible by two events. The first was the invention and development of a family of scanning probe microscopes, which enable researchers to see down to individual atoms. The second was a gradual introduction of techniques from the electronics sector to the biological sector. Nanotechnology brings together a cluster of emerging technologies from solid-state technology, biotechnology, chemical technology and ultra-small imaging.

Three major fields of nanotechnology are discernible: nanoelectronics, nanomaterials and nanobiotechnology. Common to all three are the tools used to observe and manipulate ultra-small structures.

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Current applications
Potential for the future
Nanotechnology in Europe
European Research Area
Trans-Atlantic co-operation on nanotechnology
Major EU-funded nanotechnology projects

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