“Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter and processes at the nanoscale, typically, but not exclusively, below 100 nanometers in one or more dimensions where the onset of sizedependant phenomena usually enables novel applications."
[Working definition of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)]
One nanometre (nm) is one millionth of a millimetre, or about five atoms in a row; this is the limit for how small a man made object can be. When materials and structures are made on the nanometre scale, they will have new properties.
Nanotechnology is not so much a new technology as a new way of thinking. Nano engineers try to mimic nature by combining traditional technology with nature's own way of making functional materials and structures. New tools allow nano engineers to study and manipulate matter at the atomic level. This paves the way for a number of different applications, for example:
•New materials with superior properties.
•Surface modification for increased functionality.
•Extremely sensitive sensors, e.g. for medical and environmental purposes.
•Integration of biology and electronics.
•Further miniaturisation of electronic components.