Overview of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is defined as “the science of materials and systems with structures and components which display improved novel physical, chemical and biological properties; phenomena that exist in the nano size scale (1-100 nm)”.
A nanometer (nm) is one thousand millionth of a meter. For comparison, a single human hair is about 80,000 nm wide. People are interested at the nanoscale because it is at this scale that the properties of materials can be very different from those at a larger scale. Chemists have been making polymers, which are large molecules made up of nanoscale subunits.
The properties of materials can be different at the nanoscale for two main reasons.
- First, nanomaterials have a relatively larger surface area when compared to the same mass of materials produced in a larger form. This can make materials more chemically active and affect their strength or electrical properties.
- Second, quantum effects can begin to dominate the behaviour of matter at the nanoscale particular at the lower ened, affecting optical, electrical and magnetic behaviour of materials.
Nanotechnology includes various fields of sciences which are related to each other as shown in the Figure below. The convergence of various disciplines towards nanotechnology is clearly shown with synergistic effort between the nanoscience and nanotechnology disciplines.
Nanotechnology is a field that incorporates a wide range of activities including manufacturing, synthesis and processing of functional nanostructures with designated properties, the chemistry of supramolecule and nanomolecule, self-assembly and replication techniques, sintering of nanostructured alloy, the application of quantum effect, template and chemical and biological sensor, modification of surfaces, membranes, thin films and measurements of nanostructures (see Figure below).
Research approach in Nanotechnology (Tegart, G, Nanotechnology: The Technology for the 21st Century, Vol II The Full Report, APEC Center fo Technology Foresight (2002))