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June 21st, 2007
The Science of Small Takes a Big Computer
With the help of Lonestar, a supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, computational physicist James Chelikowsky is advancing the scientific understanding of nanostructures, including quantum dots, which have novel properties with countless potential applications in many industries.
Scientists and engineers are convinced that the fledgling, interdisciplinary field of nanoscience, the science of very small structures -- those between 1 and 100 nanometers in diameter or length -- will drive the next generation of technological advancements. Just how small is a nanometer? One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter -- that is 1 X 10-9 meters or 1/1,000,000,000 of a meter! For perspective, consider that the width of a human hair is approximately 80,000 nanometers, and a DNA molecule is about 2.5 nanometers wide.
By all accounts, nanoscience is one of the hottest areas in science and technology today. In fact, scientists from many fields, including physics, chemistry, biology, information technology, metrology (the science of measurement), and others, have turned to investigating the properties of nanostructures. Likewise, engineers are enthusiastic about the possible applications of nanotechnology to a wide array of industries, including energy, medicine, electronics, computing, security, and materials.
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