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