Introduction to Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology:

Many superconscious claims may be associated with nanotechnology and expectations for incredible events may be developed, but the uncontroversial point about this technology is, it is the deep scientific study of molecules, atoms, and even their particles. It is a technology of building and manipulation of very tiny devices and apparatus, that nothing can be built anymore smaller.

Nanometer is the scale at which the basic functions of the biological world operate.

How small are the Nano-materials?

Nano means 1/109 , and a nanometer means 1/109 of a meter, which means an object of 1 cubic meter divided by 109. In other words, a nanometer is one billionth of a meter.  This is the minimum scale on which the basic functions of the biological world operate. On this stage the nano-particles differently function both chemically and physically from their constituent molecules and atoms. These profoundly different properties are due to an increase in surface area compared to volume as particles get smaller – and also the grip of weird quantum effects at the atomic scale.

Origin of the idea of Nanotechnology:

In 1959, a Famous physicist Richard Feynman, during one of his lecture, gave the idea of building things at atomic and molecular scale, meaning that to build devices while using the molecules and atoms of different substances. His idea was originated from the imagination that the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica written on the head of a pin.

However, experimental nanotechnology did not come about by itself until 1981, when IBM scientists in Zurich, Switzerland, developed the first scanning microscope (STM). This allows us to see single atoms by scanning a small probe above the surface of the silicon crystal. In 1990, IBM scientists discovered how they could use STM to move isolated xenon atoms in a nickel field – in an iconic experiment, with a marketing-inspired eye, they moved 35 atoms to spell the word “IBM”.

Other techniques have been developed since imaging at atomic scales, including atomic force microscope (AFM), resonance imaging (MRI) and a modified light microscope.

Another notable development took place in 1985, when chemists discovered how they could form a soccer ball with 60 carbon atoms, which they called buckminsterfullerene (also known as C60 or buckyballs). And in 1991, microscopic atoms of carbon nanotubes were created. This light is six times brighter, but it is 100 times stronger than steel.

Both materials have important functions such as nanoscale building blocks. Nanotubes are made of fibers, long fibers and fabrics, and are used to make strong plastics, computer chips, toxic gas presses, and many other novel items. A distant future could even see the different structures of nanotubes bound to form a space elevator.

Recently, nanoscale scientists have developed dozens of other components of nanoscale devices, including:

Small transistors, quantum dots, nanodiodes, nanosensors, molecular pistons, supercapacitors, “biomolecular” motors, motor motors, nano train set, nanoscale elevators, DNA walking nano robots, nanothermometers, nano container, small chemical setup, nano-Velcro, nanotweezers, nano-weight scales, nano abacus, nano guitar, fountain pen nanoscale, as well as nanosized adhesive metal.

How to understand the size of a nanometer?

As early mentioned a nanometer is the one-billionth part of a meter, it is so small that we can not even imagine. Let’s take a nanometer equal to the head of a pin, then the length of a meter must be stretched to an extent of 1000 meters in length. Biologically speaking, the sizes of cell organelles can only be measured in nanometers. The size of a nucleus of a cell may be equal to 10,000 nanometers (10 micrometers). The size of one mitochondrion may be about 4,000  nanometers/ 4 micrometers. One might not be conscious to the size of a nucleas, let take the example of a hair, to make the concept of a nanometer fully comprehensive. The diameter of a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers. Now compare the width of a body cell with that of a human hair. The diameter of a largest body cell is approximately equal to the width of a human hair. But most of the body cells are even smaller. I hope you have clearly understood the concept of the smallness of a nanometer. Now, lets think of the man-made devices measured in nanometeric units. Is not it astonishing? Yeah indeed astonishing.

Do we know any nanometric device so far made by human beings?

There are dozens of nano-devices, so far scientists have invented, some of which are as under;

Tiny transistors, superconducting quantum dots, nanodiodes, nanosensors, molecular pistons, supercapacitors, “biomolecular” motors, chemical motors, a nano train set, nanoscale elevators, a DNA nanowalking robot, nanothermometers, nano containers, the beginnings of a miniature chemistry set, nano-Velcro, nanotweezers, nano weighing scales, a nano abacus, a nano guitar, a nanoscale fountain pen, and even a nanosized soldering iron.

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