History of Nanotechnology

      Working Small ...

      Thinking Big



  1. Atom: 0.1 nanometers.

  2. Atoms in a molecule: 0.15 nanometers apart.

  3. DNA double-helix: 2 nanometers in diameter.

  4. Typical protein: 10 nanometers long.

  5. Computer transistor (switch): 100-200 nanometers wide.

  6. Typical bacteria: 200 nanometers long.

  7. Human hair: 10,000 nanometers in diameter.

  8. One piece of paper: 100,000 nanometers thick.

  9. Girl 1.2 m (4ft) tall: 1200 million nanometers tall.

  10. Man 2m (6.5 ft) tall  2000 million nanometers tall.

  11. Empire State Building: 381 m (1250 ft) tall: 381,000 million nanometers tall


Nanotechnology Timeline

  1. Dec 29 1959 Richard Feynman gave a talk on Nanotechnology at the American Physical society meeting talking about majorconcepts in Nanotechnology

  2. 1960 William McLellan constructed the first 250-microgram 2000-rpm motor out of 13 separate parts

  3. 1974 Professor Norio Taniguchi came up with the term Nanotechnology

  4. 1981 Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer invented the Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM). Allow scientists to ‘see’ and manipulate individual atoms

  5. 1985 Researchers at Rice University discovered fullerenes or more commonly know as buckyballs

  6. 1986 Gerd Binnig, Calvin F. Quate and Christoph Gerber invented the atomic force microscope, which is very important in Nanotechnology

  7. 1991 The Carbon Nanotube was discovered by Sumio Iijima of NEC

  8. 1994 US science advisor Dr. Jack Gibbons talks to the white house in US about Nanotechnology

  9. 1996 The first European conference is held to discuss matters of Nanotechnology

  10. 1997 Zyvex is founded and is the first company to research Nanotechnology

  11. 1999 Safety guidelines are founded for dangers in handling Nanotechnology

  12. 2006 Professors Naomi Halas and Jennifer West are leading the field in Nanoparticles combating Cancer


     Nanotechnology, also known as "nanotech", is the development of new devices with atomic or molecular level accuracy, which was envisioned by Richard Feynman during 1959. It is the manipulation of materials measuring between 1 and 100 nanometers in order to create new materials and products. Many scientists followed it up with concepts and discoveries that resulted in breakthroughs in the field of medicine. The term Nanotechnology refers to a set of upcoming technologies in which the structure of matter is defined at the nanometer scale (the lowest level of atomic matter), which is used to develop new materials and devices that have valuable and significant properties. It is a very diverse field in which we can develop new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to investigate whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale. Citation 5

     Nanotechnology deals with structures that are of 100 nanometers or smaller. If we look back at the origination of nanotechnology concepts, we trace our steps to 1959, when Richard Feynman first suggested that devices and materials could one day be constructed to atomic detailing. Nanotechnology involves the integration of various disciplines , mainly physics, biology, and engineering chemistry. There has been much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology. It has the potential to create many new devices and materials with a wide range of applications, such as in medicine, agriculture, electronics, cosmetics, and energy production. Citation 5

Why is nanotechnology important?

- Nanotechnology has the potential to change every part of our lives. Nanotechnology affects all materials: ceramics, metals, polymers, and biomaterials. New materials are the foundation of major technological advances. In the coming decade nanotechnology will have an enormous impact. Future advances could change our approaches to manufacturing, electronics, and communications technology, making previous technology redundant and leading to applications which could not have been developed or even thought about, without this new approach. Citation 6

How will nanotechnology affect our future?

- Nanotechnology has unleashed a hurricane. It’s been called the next industrial revolution, a “disruptive” technology that will replace or change all other technologies. The more conservative predictions mention swifter and safer drug delivery, cheaper and more abundant energy, a cleaner environment, and more powerful computers. The more visionary describe a coming utopia, with nature firmly under the human heel, free of disease, poverty, pollution, and old age. The flip side, of course, is a vision of dystopia: ruined economies, invisible monitors everywhere, and rogue nanobots eating up the biosphere. The dream of nanotechnology is to build things the way nature does, atom by atom and molecule by molecule. Since a molecule’s structure is the key to its properties, we could create any material we please. They will be a key ingredient in stronger, lighter car bodies and spacecraft, sieves to filter bacteria from drinking water, and the tiniest transistors. Citation 7

• What are the ethical issues of nanotechnology?

- With such awesome potential dangers inherent in nanotechnology, we must seriously examine its potential consequences. Granted, nanotechnology may never become as powerful and prolific as envisioned by its evangelists, but as with any potential, near-horizon technology, we should go through the exercise of formulating solutions to potential ethical issues before the technology is irreversibly adopted by society. We must examine the ethics of developing nanotechnology and create policies that will aid in its development so as to eliminate or at least minimize its damaging effects on society. Citation 8

Potential Benefits

  • Manufacturing
    • Precision Manufacturing
    • Material Reuse
    • Miniaturization
  • Medicine
    • Pharmaceutical Creation
    • Disease Treatment
    • Nanomachine-assisted Surgery
  • Environment
    • Toxin Cleanup
    • Recycling
    • Resource Consumption Reduction

Potential Dangers

  • Weapons
    • Miniature Weapons and Explosives
    • Disassemblers for Military Use
  • Rampant Nanomachines
    • The Gray Goo Scenario
    • Self Replicating Nanomachines
  • Surveillance
    • Monitoring
    • Tracking


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