Fundamental Concepts In Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

It's hard to imagine just how small nanotechnology is. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or 10-9 of a meter. Here are a few illustrative examples:

  • There are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch.
  • A sheet of newspaper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
  • On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth.

Nanoscience and nanotechnology involve the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules.

Everything on Earth is made up of atoms-the food we eat, the medicines we take, the clothes we wear, the buildings and houses we live in, and our own bodies.

Carbon atoms abstract

Size of A Nanoscale

Just how small is "nano?" In the International System of Units, the prefix "nano" means one-billionth, or 10-9; therefore one nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. It's difficult to imagine just how small that is, so here are some examples:

  • A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick
  • A strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter
  • There are 25,400,000 nanometers in one inch
  • A human hair is approximately 80,000- 100,000 nanometers wide
  • A single gold atom is about a third of a nanometer in diameter
  • On a comparative scale, if the diameter of a marble was onenanometer, then diameter of the Earth would be about one meter
  • One nanometer is about as long as your fingernail grows in one second

The illustration on the left has three visual examples of the size and the scale of nanotechnology, showing just how small things at the nanoscale actually are.


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