Nanotechnology is the study and design of technological advancements so small they measure only from 0.1 to 100 nanometers. To put this in perspective, a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter. The width of a human hair is 80,000 nanometers.
Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that utilizes mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, engineering and computer science. Also referred to as molecular nanotechnology, its purpose is to create, molecule by molecule, exceedingly advanced microscopic machines or computers. A second application for nanotechnology is the creation of regular sized objects, but achieved through the use of tiny machines called assemblers.
Given the fact that, once properly developed, it will have significant impact not just on a specific sector of society but on society as a whole, nanotechnology is oftentimes called a general-purpose technology (in the tradition of the steam engine or printing press). Its effects will be felt through the consequent production of better, sturdier, safer, cleaner and more intelligent objects that are used in homes, hospitals, transport systems, farms, offices and most everywhere else. The benefits are unlimited. However, the evolution of nanotechnology also has its immense risks, especially when one considers the types of weapons that could be built through its help.
Additional Entries on Nanotechnology
Origins of Nanotechnology
Applications of Nanotechnology
Potential Threats Posed by Nanotechnology
Web Resources On Nanotechnology
Book Resources On Nanotechnology
Understanding Nanotechnology by Scientific American
Nanofuture: What's Next For Nanotechnology by J. Storrs Hall