Nano-

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Nano- (symbol n) is a unit prefix meaning "one billionth". Used primarily with the metric system, this prefix denotes a factor of 10−9 or 0.000000001. It is frequently encountered in science and electronics for prefixing units of time and length.

Examples:

  • One nanometer is about the length that a fingernail grows in one second.
  • Three gold atoms lined up are about one nanometer long.
  • If a toy marble were scaled down to one nanometer wide, Earth would scale to about one meter (3.3 feet) wide.[1]
  • One nanosecond is about the time required for light to travel 30 cm in air, or 20 cm in an optical fiber.

The prefix derives from the Greek νᾶνος (Latin nanus), meaning "dwarf". The General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) officially endorsed the usage of nano as a standard prefix in 1960.

When used as a prefix for something other than a unit of measure (as for example in words like "nanoscience"), nano refers to nanotechnology, or means "on a scale of nanometres". See nanoscopic scale.

Prefix Base 1000 Base 10 Decimal English word Adoption[nb 1]
Name Symbol Short scale Long scale
yotta Y  10008  1024 1000000000000000000000000  septillion  quadrillion 1991
zetta Z  10007  1021 1000000000000000000000  sextillion  trilliard 1991
exa E  10006  1018 1000000000000000000  quintillion  trillion 1975
peta P  10005  1015 1000000000000000  quadrillion  billiard 1975
tera T  10004  1012 1000000000000  trillion  billion 1960
giga G  10003  109 1000000000  billion  milliard 1960
mega M  10002  106 1000000  million  million 1873
kilo k  10001  103 1000  thousand  thousand 1795
hecto h  10002/3  102 100  hundred  hundred 1795
deca da  10001/3  101 10  ten  ten 1795
 10000  100 1  one  one
deci d  1000−1/3  10−1 0.1  tenth  tenth 1795
centi c  1000−2/3   10−2 0.01  hundredth  hundredth 1795
milli m  1000−1  10−3 0.001  thousandth  thousandth 1795
micro μ  1000−2  10−6 0.000001  millionth  millionth 1873
nano n  1000−3  10−9 0.000000001  billionth  milliardth 1960
pico p  1000−4  10−12 0.000000000001  trillionth  billionth 1960
femto f  1000−5  10−15 0.000000000000001  quadrillionth  billiardth 1964
atto a  1000−6  10−18 0.000000000000000001  quintillionth  trillionth 1964
zepto z  1000−7  10−21 0.000000000000000000001  sextillionth  trilliardth 1991
yocto y  1000−8  10−24  0.000000000000000000000001  septillionth  quadrillionth 1991
  1. ^ Prefixes adopted before 1960 already existed before SI. 1873 was the introduction of the CGS system.

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