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    Fast facts: What does nanotechnology mean?

    What does Nanotechnology mean?

    There’s always been research in making things smaller, more delicate and now scientists and researchers have become so skilled that they can make and manipulate so-called nanostructures.  Through these nanostructures they create materials and construct systems with completely new abilities.

    The word nano is derived from the Greek word “nanos”, meaning dwarf. Nano thus refers to something very small.

    Basically, nanotechnology covers a number of fields already known in natural science, mainly those of physics, chemistry and molecular biology. What’s new is that you are able to work in these fields on a much smaller scale, known as nanometer or atomic scale with these new microscopes.

    -    The prefix nano-, means billionth. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter; a nanogram is a billionth of a gram, etc.

    -    Micro- and milli- means millionth and thousandth.  In order to get this in any kind of context, a millionth of a millimeter is about 100.000 times smaller than your typical hair, and your fingernails grow approximately one nanometer per second.

    -    The first microscope able to work in nanoscale, was the Scanning Tunnel Microscope, or STM invented by IBM in 1982.

    -    As of August 21, 2008, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies 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.

    by Thorsten Weitling

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