Nanotechnology: A Few Basic Things to Know so You can Understand What the Fuss is about and How It Affects You

You might have heard friends talking about nanotechnology and how cool it is. Or maybe a colleague asked you what you thought about new developments. If you had no idea what they were talking about, we can help you out. Nanotechnology has to do with the science and use of very, very small things. Let’s look at a few very basic things about nanotechnology that will bring you out of the dark.

Definition – The word ‘nano’ means ‘dwarf in Greek. When nano is used as a prefix it can refer to time, volume, or length. It is basically a factor of one billionth. This is very small.

Nanoscience vs. nanotechnology – These terms are not the same thing. Nanoscience has to do with the study of things on a nanoscale. It means that nanoscience takes existing science and apply it in nanoscale. Nanotechnology has to do with designing systems and structures that are nanoscale.

Use – Many scientists and artists had been using nanoparticles in their work without realizing it. Molecules and viruses are nanoparticles. Tire manufacturers have been using carbon black, which are nanoparticles, since the 1920s. Artists who created church windows used gold nanoparticles to get bright colors. Basically, nano is all around us.

Nanomanufacturing – The semiconductor industry is where nanomanufacturing plays a big role. Nanomanufacturing is used on a large scale to produce devices that are extremely small.

Risks – Whether nanoparticles are harmful or not, is a bit of a confusing situation. Some people say that nanoparticles are safe and hold no risk or danger. Others claim that the same nanoparticles are toxic and need to be tested and banned. It seems that the point of view depends on the industry and what the value of nanoparticles mean to them.

Nanoparticles, nanotechnology, nanomanufacturing and all other things nano, are here to stay. One of the societal issues that we face is that it is being used in products without us, as consumers, knowing about it. Many people don’t even know what nanotech is. It would be wise to educate yourself and know how nanotech affects you.

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