This Nanotechnology Glossary is a work-in-progress, and will be updated very frequently, so check back. Please email us with any missing terms, and we will include them. Any definition that can be attributed to an author will be, unless we get a quote sent to us without one. If you see one for which the author is not shown, and you know who it is, please let us know and we will make the update. Thanks! [brackets] indicate author and copyright holder
Jupiter-Brain: A posthuman being of extremely high computational power and size. This is the archetypal concentrated intelligence. The term originated due to an idea by Keith Henson that nanomachines could be used to turn the mass of Jupiter into computers running an upgraded version of himself. [AS]
Khaki Goo: Military nanotechnology; see grey goo. [AS]
Knowbots: Knowledge robots, first developed Vinton G. Cref and Robert E. Kahn for National Research Initiatives. Knowbots are programmed by users to scan networks for various kinds of related information, regardless of the language or form in which it expressed. "Knowbots support parallel computations at different sites. They communicate with one another, and with various servers in the network and with users." [Scientific American, September 1991, p.74.] [AS]
Langmuir-Blodgett: The name of a nanofabrication technique used to create ultrathin films (monolayers and isolated molecular layers), the end result of which is called a "Langmuir-Blodgett film."
More and more.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is the predominant technology used in flat panel displays. The principle that makes the display work is this: A crystal’s alignment can be altered with an electric current. If the crystal is lined up one way – it will allow the light waves to pass through a polarized filter, but if the electric current alters the crystal’s alignment, it will guide light so that the polarized filter blocks the light. By densely packing red, blue and green light emitting crystals next to each other on a sheet (“called a substrate”), one can create a full color display. The great thing about LCD is that the crystals can be packed together closely, allowing for a higher-resolution, finer-detail display. The con is that LCDs are somewhat fragile, require a lot of power and are relatively less bright.
LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) work on a completely different concept. Traditionally LEDs are created from two semiconductors. By running current in one direction across the semiconductor the LED emits light of a particular frequency (hence a particular color) depending on the physical characteristics of the semiconductor used. The semiconductor is covered with a piece of plastic that focuses the light and increases the brightness. These semiconductors are very durable, there is no filament, they don’t require much power, they’re brighter and they last a long time. By densely packing red, blue and green LEDs next to each other on a substrate one can create a display.
The disadvantage of LEDs is that they are much larger – therefore the resolution is not nearly as good as LCD displays. That’s why most LED displays are large, outdoor displays, not smaller devices, like monitors.
OLED or Organic LED is not made of semiconductors. It’s made from carbon-based molecules. That is the key science factor that leads to potentially eliminating LEDs’ biggest drawback – size. The carbon-based molecules are much smaller. And according to a paper written by Dr. Uwe Hoffmann, Dr. Jutta Trube and Andreas Klöppel, entitled OLED - A bright new idea for flat panel displays “OLED is brighter, thinner, lighter, and faster than the normal liquid crystal (LCD) display in use today. They also need less power to run, offer higher contrast, look just as bright from all viewing angles and are - potentially - a lot cheaper to produce than LCD screens.”
LCD, LED, and OLED definitions courtesy The San Francisco Consulting Group (SFCG)
Limited Assembler: Assembler capable of making only certain products; faster, more efficient, and less liable to abuse than a general-purpose assembler. [FS]
Linde Scenario: A scenario for indefinite survival of intelligent life. It assumes it is possible to either create
connected to the original universe with a
wormhole or the existence of other cosmological domains. Intelligent life continually migrates to the new domains as the old grow too entropic to sustain life. [AS/Mitch Porter, 1997. The name refers to Linde's chaotic inflation cosmology, where new universes are continually spawned.] See The Linde scenario, v0.01
Lofstrom Loop: An beanstalk-like megaconstruction based on a stream of magnetically accelerated bars linked together. The stream is sent into space, where a station rides it using magnetic hooks, redirects it horizontally to another station, which sends it downwards to a receiving station on the ground. From this station the stream is then sent back to the launch station (a purely vertical version is called a space fountain). This structure would contain a large amount of kinetic energy but could be built gradually and would only require enough energy to compensate for losses when finished. Elevators could be run along the streams, and geostationary installations could be placed along the horizontal top. [Named after Keith Lofstrom, who did the first detailed calculations on it in: Lofstrom, Keith H., "The launch loop -- a low cost Earth-to-high orbit launch system," AIAA Paper 85-1368, 1985]. [AS]
Low-dimension Structures: quantum wells, quantum wire and quantum dots.