Nanotechnology refers to the study of small particles (nanoparticles) and their use in applications at the nano, atomic and molecular levels for industrial applications. It is very important to comprehend the various concepts and methods of nanotechnology so that it can be applied appropriately to enhance the efficiency of modern day manufacturing processes.
Nanotechnology first emerged as a field in the materials science and engineering literature in the early 1970’s. It has since then become a key area in the fields of energy, electronics and medicine. Many people believe that nanotechnology will be a major focus area for science and technology in the future because of its potential for creating new medical products and procedures which would benefit mankind.
The nanotechnology field has many sub-disciplines. In the nano-materials field there are nanoscale particles like carbon nanotubes, which have properties similar to large molecules such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. At the atomic level nanotechnology involves the study of single atoms like silicon and hydrogen. In the ultracold state carbon monoxide is made up of single atoms, even though it is very dense.
When a material is formed at the atomic and molecular level, it is called a nanoscience. It includes nanoscale particles, atoms and even molecules and sub-micron sizes. The sub-micron size is the most important and can be used for a variety of applications and nanotechnology in this particular field is an example of this.
Sub-nanometers are measured in nanometers. Nanoparticles can range from two to five microns in size. The term nanotechnology refers to nanoscience with a size of a few atoms. This is very different from traditional nanotechnology, which refers to nanotechnology with a size of thousands of atoms or more.
Nanoparticles are not only used in nanotechnology but are also used in applications where they are used as tools in the same manner as other tools. For example, if you are a photographer then you might have heard of a technique called atom trapping, where light is used to create virtual images. The atom trap method works by allowing light to pass through holes in a photosensitive film to make virtual images.
Other applications of nanotechnology include the nano-materials field. In the nano-materials field scientists use nano-materials and nanostructures for the creation of new materials and objects which have unique properties which cannot be reproduced in the real world.
Nanotechnology also includes the study of molecular scale processes and the manipulation of this scale by using nanothermics. Molecular imaging is another form of nanotechnology that uses the principle of microscopy to allow the observation of molecular processes and to measure the sizes and composition of molecules.
A process involves the manipulation of molecules so that their order changes. If a molecule is too large or too small or has too many atoms, the result will be a compound which does not occur naturally. These are known as synthetic chemicals.
A process that utilizes nanotechnology involves the manipulation and alignment of scientific equipment. The goal is to create new forms of scientific instruments that can take the place of more expensive and energy intensive materials like carbon. lasers are used to change the structure and alignment of a molecule.
Medical imaging involves the use of fluorescent proteins as diagnostic tools to see inside of organs and blood vessels. A method to treat cancer is the use of fluorescent imaging to see how cancer cells develop. Nanofabrication is the process of creating nanoscopic shapes out of metals such as steel by the application of a laser beam.
Some nanotechnology uses are very advanced, but others are still very much in its infancy and scientists are continually looking for ways to improve these methods. There is still much that we do not understand about nanotechnology. However there is more information available today than there was even a decade ago.