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May 25th, 2011

Nanotechnology is providing a 'toolkit' for advances in many areas of science

Abstract:
Nanoscience remains a cutting-edge subject, operating on a truly remarkable scale imperceptible to the human eye. But from aircraft design to the fashion industry, the application of the technology is already widespread - and that is only the start.

It's one of those terms that confers cool and mystery on to anything it touches. Researching new materials is one thing, working on nanomaterials seems to be at a different level. Chemistry is a fundamental science subject in universities, but nanochemistry seems to be brand new, more cutting edge. Science might be interesting, but nanoscience is somehow sexy. You get the picture.

Those four letters are, at the same time and depending on who you are, awe-inducing, money-making or frightening.

Nanoscience, and the resulting nanotechnology, is the study of materials and processes at the level of atoms and molecules. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre, roughly half the diameter of a DNA molecule or one-thousandth the width of a human hair.

The ideas of nanotechnology have been around for decades, but it wasn't until the 1980s, with the development of scanning microscopy and the move to make computers and machines as small as possible, that its true potential began to be apparent.

Source:
guardian.co.uk

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