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Welcome to the nanotechnology portal

Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers.

Nanotechnology is very diverse, including extensions of conventional device physics, new approaches based on molecular self-assembly, developing new materials with nanoscale dimensions, and investigating whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale. Nanotechnology entails the application of fields as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, microfabrication, etc.

There is much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios.


Nanostars of vanadium(IV) oxide


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Nanoparticles, a particle is defined as a small object that behaves as a whole unit in terms of its transport and properties. Particles are further classified according to size : in terms of diameter, coarse particles cover a range between 10,000 and 2,500 nanometers. Fine particles are sized between 2,500 and 100 nanometers. Ultrafine particles, or nanoparticles are sized between 100 and 1 nanometers. The reason for this double name of the same object is that, during the 1970-80's, when the first thorough fundamental studies were running with "nanoparticles" in the USA (by Granqvist and Buhrman) and Japan, (within an ERATO Project) they were called "ultrafine particles" (UFP). However, during the 1990s before the National Nanotechnology Initiative was launched in the USA, the new name, "nanoparticle" had become fashionable (see, for example the same senior author's paper 20 years later addressing the same issue, lognormal distribution of sizes). Nanoparticles may or may not exhibit size-related properties that differ significantly from those observed in fine particles or bulk materials. Although the size of most molecules would fit into the above outline, individual molecules are usually not referred to as nanoparticles.

Nanoclusters have at least one dimension between 1 and 10 nanometers and a narrow size distribution. Nanopowders are agglomerates of ultrafine particles, nanoparticles, or nanoclusters. Nanometer-sized single crystals, or single-domain ultrafine particles, are often referred to as nanocrystals. Nanoparticle research is currently an area of intense scientific interest due to a wide variety of potential applications in biomedical, optical and electronic fields.


Optical properties of carbon nanotubes

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A photoluminescence map from single-wall carbon nanotubes. (n, m) indexes identify certain semiconducting nanotubes.
Credit: User:NIMSoffice on Commons

A photoluminescence map from single-wall carbon nanotubes


Chad Mirkin

Chad Mirkin b. 1963

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Chad A. Mirkin is an American chemist known for his development of nanoparticle-based biodetection schemes, the invention of dip-pen nanolithography, and contributions to supramolecular chemistry, nanoelectronics, and nanooptics. The focus of his research is on developing methods for controlling the architecture of molecules and materials on the 1 - 100 nm length scale, and on utilizing such structures in the development of analytical tools. He was the winner of a 2002 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology "for opening up new possibilities for the fabrication of molecular machine systems by selectively functionalizing nanoparticles and surfaces, particularly with DNA".



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