Just how small is 'nano?' "
This question tops the list of the National Nanotechnology Initiative's website, nano.gov. There are many misconceptions surrounding nanotechnology which sounds a bit more complicated than it actually is. Really, it's the prefix that holds all the weight.
Any piece of tech or machinery that is within the range of 1 to 100 nanometers can be considered nanotechnology; to put this into perspective, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. Or, another doozy: one nanometer is about as long as your fingernail grows in one second. "
So, needless to say, the nanoscale is small almost impossibly so. And while it seems quite reasonable to be able to observe things on this scale (think atoms, bacterium, etc. etc.), how would it ever be possible to create something that small that actually has a complex, real-world function?
Believe it or not, nanomanufacturing exists, and it's growing. If you're trying to understand an application for such a thing, consider the modern computer technology. Over the past decade or so, you've witnessed cellular phones change from clunky, non-expressive tools to multifaceted mini-computers. Everything is becoming smaller in this industry of technology.
The CPU, or central processing unit the foundation of your computer is likely no more than a square inch. These mini but super-powerful chips can demand mind blowing price tags and are of but one component of a completed computer. Whereas years ago, massive-scale manufacturing projects such as assembly lines of planes, trains, and automobiles took up the majority of industry in the United States, the manufacturing of increasingly smaller products such as computer components (and the many miniature tools and wires needed in their manufacture) has begun to take on a bigger role in this new manufacturing industry.
Intel, the world leader in CPU manufacturing, says, quite plainly: the smaller and more power efficient ...the better. " So, over the next few years, expect everything in computer science to shrink continually. Of course in regards to the manufacturing industry, at large what does this mean?
Probably not much. Though nanomanufacturing shares a few letters with general manufacturing, there really is no threat that one will render the other obsolete. Instead, the growth of nanotechnology may just provide another boost for manufacturing in the future. While it works with insanely small pieces of materials, nanotechnology does make use of common industry-derived raw materials such as silicon, biopolymers, and so-called nanowiring. " While the endless applications of nanotechnology are starting to come to a head in the 21st century, we're still a long ways from reinventing the wheel.