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The Science behind Nanotech

Page history last edited by frogheart@... 12 years, 1 month ago

Nanoscience or nanotechnology? It's been called both. For the casual observer or amateur, there isn't much difference as the chief distinction seems to be that scientists are called nanoscientists and their discoveries are labeled nanotechnology.(For more about nanotechnology origins, under Jump joints, click on Modern Times and/or Storytellers create nano)

 

As for what nanotechnology is, The Nanotechnology Asset Map[1] provides a typical definition,

 

Size dependent properties of nanomaterials, usually in the 1 to 100-nm [nanometre] range, include: chemical, biological, electronic, photonic, magnetic, rheological, structural and mechanical effects. (pp. 4-5)[2]

 

For most readers the numbers are not very helpful although it is interesting to know that it was former US President Bill Clinton who decided on the 1 to 100 nanometre definition when he announced the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the US.[3] 

 

One of the more accessible definitions comes from Mihail Roco, a senior advisor for nanotechnology to the US National Science Foundation and one of the driving forces behind the National Nanotechnology Initiative,

 

Descriptions of nanotech typically characterize it purely in terms of the minute size of the physical features with which it is concerned--assemblies between the size of an atom and about 100 molecular diameters. That depiction makes it sound as though nanotech is merely looking to use infinitely smaller parts than conventional engineering. [emphasis is mine] But at this scale, rearranging the atoms and molecules leads to new properties. One sees a transition between the fixed behavior of individual atoms and molecules and the adjustable behavior of collectives. Thus, nanotechnology might better be viewed as the application of quantum theory and other nano-specific phenomena to fundamentally control the properties and behavior of matter.[4]

 

In his definition, Roco is referring to a debate that could be described as top-down vs. bottom-up engineering. Briefly, top-down means making each successive generation of device smaller in much the way that computer chips have been manufactured at smaller and smaller scales. Bottom-up means starting at the nanoscale (atoms and molecules) and building up from there. The analogy that Richard Jones uses in his book, Soft Machines, is to develop materials in the same way that nature does.[5] 

 

Jump points

See me, feel me

Sticky and fast

 

Jump joints

Modern Times

Storytellers create nano

Footnotes

  1. Roughley, D. J. (2008?) Nanotechnology Asset Map: Activities, Strengths, and Opportunities. (Note: Authorship was difficult to ascertain as there is no title page and the author is noted on the acknowledgements page (37) along with a 2007 date. The document was first distributed fresh from the printer at the Cascadia Nanotech Symposium in March 2008.) Vancouver, Canada, British Columbia Nanotechnology Alliance.
  2. Roughley, D. J. (2008?) Nanotechnology Asset Map: Activities, Strengths, and Opportunities. (Note: Authorship was difficult to ascertain as there is no title page and the author is noted on the acknowledgements page (37) along with a 2007 date. The document was first distributed fresh from the printer at the Cascadia Nanotech Symposium in March 2008.) Vancouver, Canada, British Columbia Nanotechnology Alliance.
  3. Jones, R. A. L. (2007) Soft Machines; Nanotechnology and Life. (originally published 2004, paperback edition 2007) Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press.
  4. Roco, M. (2006) Nanotechnology's future. Scientific American. August 2006, vol. 295 (2), p. 39
  5. Jones, R. A. L. (2007) Soft Machines; Nanotechnology and Life. (originally published 2004, paperback edition 2007) Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press.

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