The fact that nanotechnology can be difficult to understand is not strange. It is almost incomprehensibly small, used in a variety of completely different contexts and seems to be able to contribute with everything from lifts to outer space to solutions to global challenges. But what is it really?
Nanotechnology is the technology or technical details that are 1 – 100 nanometers in size. Nanotechnology is a technology that is defined as working with, and / or producing things on, atomic size. Nanotechnology is about exploring and using atoms and molecules to design new materials, components or systems that have improved or new properties.
Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary research area in subjects such as materials science, mechanics, electronics, biology and medicine. It can be difficult to distinguish between what is covered by the concept of nanotechnology and adjacent areas such as microtechnology, microelectronics, technical physics, and material design.
A billionth of a meter
Nano is a unit of measurement just like meters, kilometers, and decimeters. One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Nanometers, or nm, are used to describe things smaller than one micrometer. In scale, the scale looks like this: decimeters, centimeters, millimeters, micrometers, nanometers, picometers and femtometers.
In research, nanometers are used, among other things, to describe the size of the wavelengths of light or the distance between two atoms’ bonding. The term nano is also a prefix, that is, a word that can be used to give other words properties, which becomes clear on all the nano-words that already exist: nanomaterials, nano research, nanoparticles, nanostructured surfaces and so on.
Nanoparticles are both manufactured and available naturally
A nanoparticle is usually defined as a particle with a size of between 1-100 nanometers. Within the field, the distinction is made between natural nanoparticles and manufactured nanoparticles. There are many examples of naturally occurring nanoparticles. When you light a match, for example, quantities of natural carbon nanoparticles are released.
Manufactured nanoparticles, or ENP (Engineered Nano Particles), are particles that scientists have manipulated to enhance their properties, or to give it brand new.
The boundaries of what is biology, physics and chemistry are blurred at the nano level.
What makes nanotechnology so special is that substances behave in a different way at the nano level than they do on a larger scale. It may sound strange but is really quite logical: we who live on a much larger scale are used to our world behaving in a certain way. When we travel down in size to a billionth of a meter, the world looks completely different. What we choose to divide into categories such as biology, physics and chemistry become a common country at the nano level. The boundaries of what is what is simply blurred.