How Small is Small?
The word nano is from the Greek language, which means one-billionth. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter and is three times the size of an atom.
National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Eugene Wong said, "This is the point on the length scale where the smallest man-made devices meet the atoms and molecules of the natural world." It is postulated that Nanotechnology in the new Millennium will produce various devices that will be SMALL, Small and smaller. If you think placing 28 million transistors on a computer chip the size of a human thumbnail by last century's technology was a resounding achievement, read on.
Nanotechnology has high priority in Congress and the White House. The US Government spent $225 million in 1999 on research and put on numerous nano-work shops for major American industrial giants. The NSF predicts "nano-science" and its new technology will change nearly every man-made object in the first 100 years of the Millenium, since it deals with items 1,000 times smaller than those of the previous century. A million nano-sized objects will fit on the end of a period and computer chips will be able to store millions and millions of bits of information on a pinhead.
One researcher predicts most diseases will be cured, including cancer, before they find a cure for the common cold. Nanoparticles may be used to deliver drugs when they sense the presence of biological distress in cancer cells and detect various other diseases in the human body. Other predicted beneficial uses of the nanoparticles include: monitoring your body's vital signs and alerting you and/or your doctor of an impending crisis in your health; replace worn out or diseased body parts; sense the presence of biological weapons; create clean energy; and develop extremely strong materials.
Nanoparticles will be stronger than steel and produce artificial photosynthesis, which will result in cleaner energy. Some of these nano-sized devices are already being used to read data stored on CD-ROM's in computers. Others have been placed inside cellular telephones, pagers, air bags and automobile engines.
Even thought it's difficult working with such small objects, researchers predict Nano technology will "hallmark" the 21st century.
Working with objects so small a speck of dust appears to look like a high mountain is a challenge by itself. Forces in the normal world such as gravity, static and surface tension present a tumultuous challenge. Powerful atomic force microscopes, developed to aid the new technology, push atoms around like children's building blocks. Scientists will be able to build nano-critters on extremely small scales, atom by atom.
Okay, by this time everyone agrees we've been talking SMALL, Smaller and Small.
Did you find it difficult to believe this has happened? What would you think if it could get smaller yet? It's reasonably possible if we think of an object one-trillionth of a meter in size. Now we're talking pico, TINY, Tiny, tiny which may be another new technology in the 21st century.
It's just a matter of thinking big in a micro manner.