Multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) sample

Nanotechnology (nanotech) – the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale.

  • nanosecond – a billionth of a second. Nanosecond is often abbreviated as ns.
  • nanometer – a nanometer is a measurement of one billionth of a meter. In is abbreviated as nm.

Romans and nanotechnology – 1,600-Year-Old Goblet Shows that the Romans Were Nanotechnology Pioneers. Researchers have finally found out why the jade-green cup appears red when lit from behind. Researchers scrutinized broken fragments under a microscope and discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers: They’d impregnated the glass with particles of silver and gold, ground down until they were as small as 50 nanometers in diameter, less than one-thousandth the size of a grain of table salt. The exact mixture of the precious metals suggests the Romans knew what they were doing

National Nanotechnology Initiative defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. Nanotechnology as defined by size is naturally very broad, including fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, microfabrication, etc.

Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials.

Simulation of Nano-gears with multiple teeth

Nanomedicine – the medical application of nanotechnology. The approaches to nanomedicine range from the medical use of nanomaterials, to nanoelectronic biosensors, and future applications of molecular nanotechnology. Current problems for nanomedicine involve understanding the issues related to toxicity and environmental impact of nanoscale materials. The invention of scanning tunneling microscope in the 1980s by IBM Zurich scientists and then the atomic force microscope allowed scientists to see materials at an unprecedented atomic level.

  • When hit with light, electrons belonging to the metal flecks vibrate in ways that alter the color depending on the observer’s position. This presents interesting possibilities for using nanotechnology to diagnose disease

What’s the problem?
How to Brew Your Own Conductive Ink – Draw working circuits in pen and ink. For many practical reasons, and sometimes just for fun, drawing a circuit would be a good alternative to using conventional wiring and soldering.

  • Ask – As part of a circuit design and building an electronic gadget, the circuit plan is draw to represent how the components will be connected. Then the design is reproduced using actual components connected by wires so the electricity will flow as directed. How could this process be streamlined? Could the wires connecting the components be replaced with “lines” on the surface material?
  • Imagine – In electronics manufacturing, circuits are “printed” but this is an expressive process that works for making thousands or millions of the same circuit? How can the same idea be used for individual projects? How could the circuit lines be made at home or in a laboratory using limited equipment?
  • Plan, Create – The recipe for the conductive ink has been published and the materials and equipment are available to buy. The metal nanoparticles can be ordered online. They are somewhat expensive ($130). What problems did the article author have to resolve to get his circuit working?
  • Improve – What are some ideas for improving the conductive ink? What are some other ways the conductive ink could be used?

That’s engineering

  • carbon nanotube – a form of carbon with a nanostructure that can have a length-to-diameter ratio of up to 28,000,000:1. This ratio is significantly larger than in any other material. These cylindrical carbon molecules have novel properties that make them potentially useful in applications in nanotechnology, electronics, optics and other fields of materials science.
  • ferroelectricity – material property that is characterized by natural electric polarizability that can be altered by an external electric field. The term is used in analogy to ferromagnetism, in which a material exhibits a permanent magnetic moment.

Engineering ideas

  • nanometers, scale, toxicity, atomic, molecular, nanoparticles, microscopic, electronics, optics, polarize

Do It
Challenges for you to work on…

  • try these nanotech games – require download and setup
  • Gallery (images) – images provide a quick peek into the world of nanotechnology. Click on a picture to see a larger image and read more details.

Learn more…