Talk:Nanotechnology/Archive 1

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There should be some special wikipedia marker for a "buzzword" or a word primarily used to palaver. Nanotechnology is definitely such a word. The definition given in this article is a good example. It is so broad that it can be used to credit Eric Drexler or Richard Feynman or whoever with the invention of agriculture for who would deny that using evolutionary methods to select nanoscale structures is out of bounds to the nanotechnologist? People were doing such selection when they started selecting the first cultagens for their grain value thousands of years ago. Nor is this an unreasonable generalization of the definition. Artificial life simulations are already used to find reasonably optimal solutions used in many mass market devices and there is little distinction between such methods and the methods used to cultivate highly productive grains. Jim Bowery 20:11, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree. I am considering reducing this article down to a list of things (linked to the appropriate article) that have been tagged with that buzzword. Most of the text of this article would be moved to the specific field to which it applies. What do you think? --DavidCary 14:19, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

The picture of the MEMS gears with a mite is hardly suitable for nanotech article. The scales are way larger then the nanometer scale. This picture should be in the MEMS article.

I agree, and I moved it today.
Mike 29 March 2006

No wonder that so many people get confused about what nanotechnology is. The correct definition of nanotechnology is:

Technology that has been developed to take advantage of nano-scale properties (eg. Quantum , bulk-surface ratio, fundamental forces or a combination of these).

'Nano-engineering' is creating things on a nano-scale and 'Nano-science' is studying the world on a nano-scale level. In other words, "it's not the size that counts, it's how you use it".

for example:

If I build a cluster of atoms (or write a word), this is nano-engineering (microscopy or dare I say it, art). On the other hand, if I reconstruct a surface by adding nanotubes to produce a self-cleaning surfaces (reduction in fundamental forces b/w nano-engineering or nano-science), this is nanotechnology. It is the fact that I am exploiting the scale of the tube to create the reduction in forces... that makes this nanotechnology.

Damian12:29, 25 May 2005


In the article's section on Definition, this sentence "The related term nanotechnology is used to describe the interdisciplinary fields of science devoted to the study of nanoscale phenomena employed in nanotechnology..." makes no sense. How can 'nanotechnology' be a term related to nanotechnology?

Mike 29 March 2006


added "This is however refuted by arguments from energy requirements and elemental abundances." before the 'impossible claim' to add some small information whilst a citation is found(/or not).


molecular machines ... cannot be computed ?

Someone wrote, "[Drexler] ... failed to address issues related to the massive numbers and [of?] atoms needed to create even primitive molecular machines. Currently (and in the foreseable future) no computational methods exist to determine the reaction coordinates and other information needed for the mechanochemistry proposed [1]. " I disagree with both statements. First, many issues related to the number of atoms involved in building nanomachinery are discussed in Nanosystems, including appropriate approximations when many atoms are involved. The author of this statement should clarify which issues are not addressed, and also how many atoms are a "massive" number. Second, computational studies of mechanosynthesis have been carried out; more are underway. Methods of determining reaction coordinates and potential energy surfaces are well-known. The computational results obtained so far for mechanosynthesis have not (to the best of my knowledge) been tested directly against experiment, and it may well be that new, specialized models must be developed; but the implication that mechanochemistry is somehow noncomputable for the forseeable future is false.

I would like the author of these statements to rewrite them to clarify what issues related to atom number and computation are of concern. Alternatively, if there is no action and no objection in the next few days, I will rewrite them.

Physicist 04:40, 3 May 2004 (UTC)

Scientific method

I am out everywhere that links to Scientific method. This old (by wikipedia standards), article has been stable for some time (2 months or so). Strong but valid critique of the article has not been responded to by any wikipedian: Even though it connects to 90 articles and 30 more Talk, User, and Wikipedia pages

I'm looking to see what work must happen after we write an authoritative scientific method. Up dating the understanding of wikipedians about scientific methods, by providing an authoratative article will improve the quality of thought, the quality of writing, the quality of npov and most importantly stop wasting time patiently dealing with people out of their depth like ,the innumerate, poorly trained pomo-ists, many working scientists, many university professors who are not fundamentalists of all sorts (Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Logical Positivists, Scientific Reductionist Materialists, etc.)

I don't want the same debate carried out at a low level in every contentious article.All those diruptive influences can be directed to Scientific method. There needs to be a page like the replies to critics to deal with common, yet philosophically indefencible positions.


This page seems pretty rambling and incoherent to me. e.g., the jump into economic consequences without any logical pathway to it. I read those paragraphs and thought "wait, how did we get here? why would this happen?". Similar for other parts... -- Chris Armstrong

The most recent edit of the Nanotechnology article (on May 28 2003 by seems totally out of place and irrelevant.

The original paragraph read: "The term nanotechnology was first used by K. Eric Drexler in his 1986 book Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology. and to this was added:

"However more recently it has been learned that the pioneering work yet to be realized M. Alan Swist is currently on the drawing board and looks very promising. "His concepts and ability to internalized the many minute details of this technology is simply astounding" - stated Matthew McQuires of Life Sciences International based in Dublin, Ohio."

If no-one disagrees I propose it be removed, or possibly moved to a more appropriate section of the article if it can be rewritten to be somewhat more specific. Nanobug 03:36 30 May 2003 (UTC) Update: someone ( appeared to agree with me and removed it. Thanks.

Is it just me, or is "This would mean that after the enormous research expense of designing and constructing the first molecular robot capable of self-replication, the next trillion robots would on the order of an equal mass in vegetables" a very confusing sentence?

Factual Errors, Bias

"In the field of microelectronics, the drive towards miniaturization continues and transistor gate lengths of 65 nm are routinely fabricated in prototype circuits."

This is outdated. I didn't correct it as I'm unsure of the correct data at the time but I'm pretty sure we're past the 45nm in prototype transistor size. 65nm is already a comercial size in Samsung memories. Also important is to refer that there are several ways to measure the transistor, including gate lenght and channel lenght, which provide different values. I believe the comercial designation used by the semiconductor companies is based on the width of the hole transistor and not only the channel (which would be a much lower value). --nunocordeiro 20:31, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

I have two objections to this particular article. Perhaps they're unfounded, but I'd like to see if others agree with me.

The first stems from a statement made in the first paragraph:

"Physically, real nanotechnology relates to sizes of only a few atoms' width".

I assert that this a factually incorrect statement. The average width of an atom is of the order of a 100 picometers (i.e. 10^(-10), or one tenth of a nanometere)), so the width of a few atoms is really only a fraction of a nanometer. Sure, a lot of neat stuff is being done on this scale, but the field of nanotechnology commonly deals with processes that occur in size regimes orders of magnitude larger than this (i.e. tens of nanometres). This isn't just semantics; the point of this article is to provide general information about this emerging field, and in this context the description is far too narrow and limiting. Not only that, but what is 'real' nanotechnology? I doubt the author of that statement is qualified to describe what 'real' nanotechnology is; I doubt anyone can. The best we can do is try to describe what is actually happening in the field as a whole, and I think the current description is inadequate. I'd be happy to rewrite this, but I'd like thoughts on what I've said here.

This is scientifically true, but since the name nanotechnology was coined as the use of technology at the smalest scales possibles (hence, nanotubes and the sort) it is the name given at technologies at those dimensions irrelevantly of the actual size. You shouldn't take the name to literally. 10^(-10) is called an Angstrom (not really sure about the spelling) and those are the dimensions an atom possess (2 to 5 I believe) - the point being that Angstrotechnology as a buzz/hype word sucks... Although it shouldn't, that kind of thing becomes important when titling white papers... --nunocordeiro 20:31, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

My second objection concerns the Drexler focus of the article. It may very well be true the Drexler first coined the term Nanotechnology, but he's done very little else for the field in a sceintific sense since. Drexler's scientific contributions to the field of nanotechnology are weak. His main influence on the field has been through his Foresight institue, which has primarily been concerned with generating buzz about the field and educating the public about the potential good and bad of nanotechnology. Many people are not aware of the fact that many notable scientists (including several Nobel laureates, such as Smalley) take issue with many of the statements and visions given by Drexler, who as I mentioned, has not contributed substantially to the actual field scientifically. I think that given this controversy his role in this article needs to be toned down.

I'd appreciate a constructive discussion on this. Anyone?

-Russ G

When I hear "nanotechnology", Drexler is the first name that comes to my mind. Please tell us more about the other people who have contributed "substantially" to this field. Richard Smalley, Ralph C. Merkle, Robert A. Freitas, Eugene Wong, Paul McWhorter, James R. Von Ehr II, ... who else am I missing ? --DavidCary 22:42, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Nanotechnology and Wikipedia

As I am aware of, this might be a little confusing, but hear me out.

When I was reading this article, I read about how we can construct objects bit by bit, atom by atom, on the microscopic scale. In parallel to that, I thought about the process that we write articles for Wikipedia. Then I said, "What if we made articles like they make objects with nanotechnology, bit by bit?" What I meant was, why can't we make an article sentence by sentence, each one written by a different author? I thought that sounded suitably ironic, especially if we did so with one on Nanotechnology. I may not know if this sort of unorthodox method would be practical, but i know one thing for certain: it wouldn't be biased.

Just wanted to say this, but thanks for reading it.


That is essentially how many wikipedia articles are written. Some of the big, important ones are the collective work of dozens of people over the course of several years. But we don't work at the clunky sentence-by-sentence level - very often editors tweak a single word, evem just a character. Take a look at the "page history" link beside each article, and hit the appropriate "last" link to see each contributor's individual delta. -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 02:03, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I'm not entirely sure about the ETC Group link that was recently added to the article, is that really very useful to link to from here? Kim Bruning 17:21, 23 May 2004 (UTC)

actually i think i't crucial to include that link, since nanotech has social and environmental significance that civil-society groups are seriously looking at. not to address these issues in any way would be like ignoring the socio-economic aspects of biotechnology and the huge political debate around them, which is clearly a serious neglect. i think the article is not NPOV without this reference, so i'll re-add it-- Uri 22:20, 3 July 2004 (GMT) [1]

This sentence doesn't make sense

"Since the progress of computers is growing expotentially it is believed that it will develop into nanotechnology in the near future." What? Nanotech is already involved in quantum computing, spintronics, etc. Computers are used for all aspects of nanotechnology research, too. I didn't want to just delete this but...

Obscure Moores Law (original version) reference, maybe? Kim Bruning 22:05, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)

"Blood vessels inside tumors are quite different from normal blood vessels. When the scientists injected the silicon-gold material into the mice, it stuck inside of the blood vessels of the tumor. Then, they used infrared rays to heat up the afflicted area. Because gold is a metal, it heats up faster than flesh, and the result was heat. This heat was concentrated in the gold, and as such, it diffused outside into the tumor, destroying it. After this experiment, the mice remained tumor-free for 90 days."

.....Worst... paragraph... ever...

Who wrote this?

You could look in history to find out -- but why bother ? Please fix poor writing style, rather than complaining about it or assigning blame.

Take out commercial adverts

Hi.. I removed references to helmut Kaiser (both set of weblinks and as 'an imprtant person in nanotech'.) helmut is a small commercial consultant based in germany and hardly a major player in nanotech's history. Also removed Chris pheonix - nice guy but not exactly of major importance just happens to run a small pro-molecular nanotech policy group (center for responsible nanotechnology.).. lets keep some sense of proportion..

Molecular Nanotech

Just a quick thought. I'm almost certain that some researchers in the field have sucessfully created molecular nanites on a scale of less than a micron. Is this not so? I remember seeing something on the science channel that these two guys had built primitive nanobots roughly the size of viroids, that were a T shape, with the vertical bar being the means of propulsion. Wouldn't that be actual Micro Nanotechnology and not something "thought to be possible in the future? Just curious.

I haven't heard anything about this. Sounds interesting. Could you give us any information at all about this ? The names of these people ? What company or university they are at ? What city they are in ? A link to the science channel ? --DavidCary 22:42, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Molecular Nanotech


Why do we need nanotechnology?????Wat makes it so important???Is it impossible to live without it????

[Why care?] might intrest you --Zarutian 01:59, 3 July 2005 (UTC)

"The newly formed Protocell Assembly team aims to integrate experimental, computational, and theoretical tasks to develop a minimal self-reproducing nano-machine."

Added an extra line on the Movies and TV Shows section: Doctor Who.

Link to tech singularity article

Why no link to tech singularity article? After all, its shock level 3 tech, its real powerful potentially and some argue it may be requied to create the hardware for AI.

I'm of mixed opinion about this. On one hand, these two terms tend to be used by the same people, but on the other hand, nanotechnology ultimately is a label, even if rather vague, for describing certain types of technology while a technological singularity is a belief system. Ultimately, I don't see a good reason to link the two articles from the nano-technology side.
Also, ["shock level"] is a poor way to describe social adjustment to new technology because it is subjective what one is "shocked" by. For example, I have a suspicion that certain types of brain damage would reduce one's ability to be shocked. If I have a bad day at work, maybe I'm more likely to be shocked. -- KarlHallowell 17:41, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Nanotechnology in fiction

I notice this section is now quite long in itself - is it worth seperating it into its own article? Average Earthman 12:08, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I think that might be a good idea. Fuelbottle | Talk 15:18, 5 November 2005 (UTC)


There are a few things that seem quite wrong here.

First is the comment about how proteins are self assembling. They do not assemble themselves; they are manufactured by a transcription process involving DNA, RNA, and specialized proteins. Is this some origin of life fantasy leaking into a factual definition?

Second are the statements revolving around self-replication. It seems to come off as saying that self replication is the state of technology (which it is not), rather than presenting it as an important goal (which it is).

I won't get into the evolution part, seeing as any discussion of its validity on Wikipedia seems to degenerate into pointless galleries and descriptions of Darwin/anti-Darwin fish. I will say that, in the future, it will be some fun to watch any nano-engineers that try to apply it in a useful fashion.

Proteins are self assembling to the extent that the folding of the amino acid chain into the protein's particular functional geometry is done by the molecule itself after it has been created. DV8 2XL 17:02, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

"Bulky balls" are mentioned. Shouldn't these be "buckyballs"??

Possible applications?

Can someone make a possible applications section? To a reader who knows nothing about nanotech, it would help give them an impression on why development of nanomachines is important, and how useful they can be. The "New materials, devices, technologies" section just talks about a few trinket nanos various companies have built, it doesn't really tell the reader what nanomachines can do for mankind. Lengis 08:55, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Many potential applications are described in the science fiction. Perhaps the main article on nano-whatever (because it includes nanoengineering, nanobiology, etc.) main article should focus on several points:
  • What applications covered in this fiction?
  • How did this contribute to our understanding, when the novel first came out?
  • How is this fiction notable in the genre'?

User:AlMac|(talk) 00:58, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Making large volumes of nanotechnology materials

Hi, The article doesn't enlighten me on the practicalities of making large volumes of nanotechnology materials EG How do they make a ton of the nano-tech sunscreen? or if, utilising different properties of materials at a nano level, I made glass with the strangth of steel how would I make 1x1x20 foot girders of it? AllanHainey 15:07, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Back to Reality

After using this article in my Physics essay on nanotechnology, I realised that much of it is irrelevant. The term 'nano-bots'is purely the concoction of a few scientists. Nanotechnology is simply working at the nanoscale. Whether the prediction of 'nano-bots' comes true or not, the result is the same; scientists will be able to do pretty much anything at the nano-scale. One of these things, is genetic manipulation for instance. DNA is 2.2 nm in diameter, meaning that we can rearange the structure of the DNA. I think the hypothetical moral and ethical implications of this is obvious.

Colon cells and TiO2

I had a look for some cites on this statement - I actually found a paper saying that TiO2 is indeed markedly effective at killing off a certain type of colon cell - Ls-174-t human colon carcinoma cells (World J Gastroenterol 2004 November 1;10(21):3191-3193). Can anyone find a paper detailing TiO2 killing of colon cells you wouldn't want killed off? In the mean time, I've added a reference to a recent summary paper on TiO2 toxicology. Average Earthman 09:36, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Reasons for shortening the potential risks section

  • Keep it simple. If we go into long tangents on everything, the reader will soon get bored. The weapons section was based on societal risks from a theoretical use of nanotechnology, so it's not really essential. Toxicity is a genuine and current concern, so I largely left that section untouched. If we want to go into great detail, I'd suggest a separate article (e.g. Risks of nanotechnology) rather than a huge section here. Average Earthman 09:39, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Current Developments section

I've removed the whole thing. This article should be describing nanotechnology as a whole, not go into certain, specific topics of research (and apparently randomly selected), as there are far too many of them. Average Earthman 06:34, 9 May 2006 (UTC)


added "This is however refuted by arguments from energy requirements and elemental abundances." before the 'impossible claim' to add some small information whilst a citation is found(/or not).


Nano Bomb Section

I removed this. It was copy-pasted verbatim from, among other places, here. Even if it weren't copyright infringement, I would question whether it really belongs in this article. Eecon 04:11, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Additions to Benefits and Risks

I added significant content to the "Benefits" and "Risks" sections. The Benefits section might appear a bit long now but it includes all the relevant areas for today's research and applications. I deliberately did not include suggested benefits for advanced nanotechnology as this area is hotly debated and might be too much sci-fi right now. Also tweaked the title to include applications.

In the Risks section I left the two previous paragraphs on molecular manufacturing and societal risks intact; but they could benefit from some editing.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 23:06, 2006 June 10

Thanks for the good work! Please remember to sing your posts on talk pages with ~~~~. It makes it easier for other edits to communicate with you about improving these articles. Thanks again! Johntex\talk 07:18, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

More Images?

Carbon nanotubes

I personally like articles much more with lots of pictures. I would suspect a lot of us do. I think it would be a good addition to this article to have some good pictures, such as perhaps the one on the right? It just seems boring without them. Nicholasink 02:18, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

In general I would agree with you. However, the pictures should be relevant to the text where they are added. Randomly adding a picture about molecular gears at the top of the Nanotechnology article doesn't add anything - but it might confuse a novice reader who now begins to think that nanotechnology is just about nanomachines and molecular assembly. I would prefer to remove that image. I think it is a better idea to have a separate section "Images". Besides, by using Google Image Search you could probably find more images and pictures than can ever be added to a wiki article.Nwerk 20:51, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

After reading this article I feel it provides the youngsters with great knowledge. Being a student myself I can say that it really helped me.

Confusing section

I'd rewrite this myself, but I'm not even sure what is trying to be said (specifically the last sentance). I'm pretty sure 'has' should be 'have,' but I'm still confused... Ohhh wait, I think I get it. Maybe the sentance should read "Nanoceramic particles have improved the smoothness and heat resistance of common household equipment, such as flat irons." I'm changing the sentance, however, it would be helpful if someone could verify that this is true.

...I also linked 'flat iron' to 'hair iron' as I am quite sure that is the type of flat iron in mind, not the oldschool clothes iron mentioned in the article that flat iron links to.


The most prominent application of nanotechnology in the household is self-cleaning or “easy-to-clean” surfaces on ceramics or glasses. Common household equipment like flat irons has improved smoothness and heat-resistance due to nanoceramic particles.


Impalefection, which links to this page, is in need of an expert. please improve Impalefection if you can. Thanks, Republitarian 17:07, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Any nanomedicine experts out there?

The article Transfersome concerns an example of medical nanotechnology. It is currently up for deletion, and a rewrite for readability by any editors interested in medical research or nanotechnology would help. Plus comments at the deletion debate would be good as well. Carcharoth 16:34, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Could nanomachines kill RNA viruses

Could they? It would cure a zillion different diseases from HIV to the common cold. Malamockq 15:42, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Terrible Opening Sentences

"Nanotechnology is a field of applied science focused on the design, synthesis, characterization and application of materials and devices on the nanoscale. Developments in nanotechnology have led to improved suntan lotion and water repellant pants."

Suntan Lotion and waterproof trousers? Is this really the best we can come up with as an overview of nanotechnology? Thats like saying the development of plastic allowed us to make lighter weight clothes pegs. Damburger 11:39, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

"History of Use" Error

With the caveat that i know little about Wiki and less about nanotech: The section opens, "Nanotechnology reaches back to the late 19th century, when colloidal science first took root." Critical early moments are citd as happening in 1959, 1974, "the 1980s".

The authors mean either that the events happened in 1859, 1874, the 1880s, or that nanotechnology reaches back to the late 20th century. Or the article fails to mention some crucial earlier event (but that seems unlikely to me). This 1900s/nineteenth century confusion is repeated throughout the history section, and perhaps the entire article. 17:28, 6 September 2006 (UTC)badger