Posted: April 2, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Nanotechnology is technology that operates on the nanoscale, about one billionth of a metre. If a living cell were a large city, then a nanometre would be about the size of a car. Nanotechnology is the art of engineering down at this hard-to-fathom scale. The idea started in 1959 when famous physicist Richard Feynman suggested we could manipulate individual atoms and use them to build tiny machines. However, the term “nanotechnology” was not coined until the 1980s and lumps together different and varied ideas. All that unites these different technologies is that they use nano-sized building blocks. While other technologies make machines out of bulk materials – microchips out of silicon, wires out of copper, cars out of steel – nanotechnology makes machines out of large, complex molecules. Because nanotechnology works at such an extreme and unexplored scale, it opens up a world of new possibilities. Many nanomaterials possess special properties, such as great strength or high ability to conduct electricity. Scientists working in the field of nanotechnology often look to nature to provide ideas for “smart” ways to solve complex problems. For example, spider silk and lotus leaves have both been studied in order to replicate their special properties, ie their tensile strength or ability to repel water, in engineered materials. (via A user’s guide to nanotechnology | Nanotechnology world | guardian.co.uk)

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