Understanding Nanotechnology

What is Nanotechnology?

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What is Nanotechnology?
A basic definition: Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced.

In its original sense, 'nanotechnology' refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.

With 15, 342 atoms, this parallel-shaft speed reducer gear is one of the largest nanomechanical devices ever modeled in atomic detail.

The Meaning of Nanotechnology

When K. Eric Drexler (right) popularized the word 'nanotechnology' in the 1980's, he was talking about building machines on the scale of molecules, a few nanometers wide—motors, robot arms, and even whole computers, far smaller than a cell. Drexler spent the next ten years describing and analyzing these incredible devices, and responding to accusations of science fiction. Meanwhile, mundane technology was developing the ability to build simple structures on a molecular scale. As nanotechnology became an accepted concept, the meaning of the word shifted to encompass the simpler kinds of nanometer-scale technology. The U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative was created to fund this kind of nanotech: their definition includes anything smaller than 100 nanometers with novel properties.

Much of the work being done today that carries the name 'nanotechnology' is not nanotechnology in the original meaning of the word. Nanotechnology, in its traditional sense, means building things from the bottom up, with atomic precision. This theoretical capability was envisioned as early as 1959 by the renowned physicist Richard Feynman.

I want to build a billion tiny factories, models of each other, which are manufacturing simultaneously. . . The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom. It is not an attempt to violate any laws; it is something, in principle, that can be done; but in practice, it has not been done because we are too big.

— Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize winner in physics

Based on Feynman's vision of miniature factories using nanomachines to build complex products, advanced nanotechnology (sometimes referred to as

molecular manufacturing) will make use of positionally-controlled mechanochemistry guided by molecular machine systems. Formulating a roadmap for development of this kind of nanotechnology is now an objective of a broadly based technology roadmap project led by Battelle (the manager of several U.S. National Laboratories) and the Foresight Nanotech Institute.

Shortly after this envisioned molecular machinery is created, it will result in a manufacturing revolution, probably causing severe disruption. It also has serious economic, social, environmental, and military implications.

Four Generations

Mihail (Mike) Roco of the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative has described of nanotechnology development (see chart below). The current era, as Roco depicts it, is that of passive nanostructures, materials designed to perform one task. The second phase, which we are just entering, introduces active nanostructures for multitasking; for example, actuators, drug delivery devices, and sensors. The third generation is expected to begin emerging around 2010 and will feature nanosystems with thousands of interacting components. A few years after that, the first integrated nanosystems, functioning (according to Roco) much like a mammalian cell with hierarchical systems within systems, are expected to be developed.

Interesting automotive fact

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Grand Central Publishing Understanding Nanotechnology (Science Made Accessible)
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Sure, many physicists understand QM

by twice_shy_nlli

QM is just the study of the physical properties of extremely small objects is all. Thousands of physicists understand it quite well, and hundreds understand it extremely well. The emerging field of Nanotechnology depends upon a good understand of QM, and the business investors can't wait to invest money into that field. Folks with money to invest are good folks to watch when deciding which fields are well understood and which aren't.
No subject in physics will ever be completely understood of course, for there will always be more to learn about any subject. And the relationship of QM to other fields of study in physics will always result in more work required

What ABOUT nanotechnology? enlighten us!

by Ciph3rzer0

In terms of AI, it is not that we don't have the power to create a AI that is equally intelligent as us. We just HAVEN'T PROGRAMMED IT YET.
It turns out, this intelligence stuff is a lot harder than once though. People were predicting AI would be a 10 year project, and we would have little #5's and r2-d2's zipping around the planet. Many decades have passed and we barely have a foothold on AI. Never mind understanding and cognition, which would be necessary for the computer to "understand us"

— Sourceable
Carbon-based nanostructures are already being used as materials in solar cells with increasing frequency, yet their ability to enhance electrical performance has thus far been hampered by limited ability to assemble orderly networks using the materials.

Understanding Nanotechnology
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