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Nano Engineering and Microsystems

(Stanford University - Jaclyn Chen)


Nanoscale and Nanoscience

Nanoscale, the size range roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where many of the fundamental structures of biology are formed, composite materials may take on their distinctive characteristics, and many important physical phenomena are found. (Note: a nanometer equals to one billionth of a metre or 0.000000001 m).
Nanoscience, the study of unique properties of matter at the nanoscale; an interdisciplinary field of science combining physics, materials science, the chemistry of complex molecules, and related disciplines.

What is Nanotechnology?

[National Nanotechnology Initiative]: Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers. 
Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.
Today's scientists and engineers are finding a wide variety of ways to deliberately make materials at the nanoscale to take advantage of their enhanced properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity than their larger-scale counterparts.

How it Started

The ideas and concepts behind nanoscience and nanotechnology started with a talk entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) on December 29, 1959, long before the term nanotechnology was used. In his talk, Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules. Over a decade later, in his explorations of ultraprecision machining, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology. It wasn't until 1981, with the development of the scanning tunneling microscope that could "see" individual atoms, that modern nanotechnology began.
When the idea of nanotechnology was developed in the 1960s, it was just that – an idea. Scientists couldn’t do much to make nanotechnology happen, as they didn’t have the tools to see or work at the nanoscale. So, in some ways, nanotechnology has advanced alongside developments of microscopes.

 [More to come ...]

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