Introductory Series: Nanotechnology Here & Now

By: Dr Stanley Crawford (Ed.D)

What is Nanotechnology?

An Earth-based, Here and Now Introductory Series


Learn about nanotech today to understand its future human applications.

Nanotechnology is the development and use of techniques to study physical phenomena and construct structures in the physical size range of 1-100 nanometers (nm), as well as the incorporation of these structures into applications [1].  It is a challenge to truly describe a nanometer.  However, it is important to get a perspective for what a nanometer is like. For example, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.  Technically, a nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter. Alternatively, Thomas Kenny of Stanford University described it as:

…almost as wide as a DNA molecule and 10 times the diameter of a hydrogen atom. It’s about how much your fingernails grow each second and how far the San Andreas Fault slips in half a second. It’s the thickness of a drop of water spread over a square meter. It’s one-tenth the thickness of the metal film on your tinted sunglasses or your potato chip bag. The smallest lithographic feature on a Pentium computer chip is about 100 nanometers.

Stanford University News Service

Currently, and as merely a few examples from thousands of those possible, nanotechnology has resulted in the development of products used for anti-bacterial dressings, powders that can neutralize gas and liquid toxins in chemical spills, more powerful batteries, cosmetic ingredients, food ingredients, and sunscreens.  In addition, there are various coatings with specified properties to enhance materials, such as glass, to which they are applied [3].  In addition to the development of the various products, nanotechnology is expected to allow the production of products at a low cost.

As for the nanotechnology knowledge base, several noteworthy, historical researchers have contributed.  A few of these individuals from the field of nanotechnology are listed below:

  • Noris Taniguchi:  Defined the term “nanotechnology.”  He was a Tokyo Science University Professor [4].
  • Richard P. Feynman:  He was the first to use the concepts of nanotechnology but not the term “nanotechnology” [4].
  • Eric Drexler:  He explored the concept of nanotechnology to greater depth.  He promoted the concepts through speeches and print media [4].

Inside the Introductory Series on Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is a dynamic field that is constantly evolving.  Nanotechnology impacts all areas of our lives.  For instance, nanotechnology has already had an impact in the areas of electronics, foods, medicine, medical procedures, energy, computer, information technology, and communications.

Nanotechnology and the Energy SectorNanotechnology and Electronics
Nanotechnology and FoodNanotechnology and the Medical Field
Nanotechnology and CommunicationsNanotechnology and Computers
Nanotechnology and Materials ScienceNanotechnology and Information Technology
Nanotechnology Cautions and Risks


[1] R.N. Kostoff, R.G. Koytcheff, C.G.Y. Lau, Global nanotechnology research literature overview, Technological forecasting & Social Change, 2007, Volume 74, 1733-1747.

[2] N. Islam, K. Miyazaki, An empirical analysis of nanotechnology research domains.

[3] National Nanotechnology Initiative, Nanotechnology big things from a tiny world.

[4] Nanotechnology Research Foundation, History and future of nanotechnology,, Retrieved March 4, 2013.

Category: Nanotechnology