nan·o·tech·nol·o·gy The science and technology of building electronic circuits and devices from single atoms and molecules.
The Second Industrial Revolution • Atoms can be engineered like Lego blocks • Nanotechnology will transform science, medicine, and our entire lives • “The molecules of one man’s garbage could be reassembled into another’s filet mignon.”
The Second Industrial Revolution • Supercomputers that fit on the head of a pin • Medical nanobots smaller than a human cell able to eliminate cancer, clogged arteries and even old age • Customized cars assembled molecule by molecule • Surgery performed by cell-sized robots
Predictions by the National Science Foundation • Within a decade nanotechnology will be a $1 trillion market • It will provide as many as 2 million new jobs
National Nanotechnology Initiative • Has its roots in 18 federal agencies • Is providing one of the largest infusions of research money, $3.7 billion over four years, since the heyday of the space program. • More than 30 states have spending initiatives to spur nanotech development.
It’s what? • Nano – comes from the Greek for dwarf • Nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials, devices or processes that are 100 nanometers or less. • One nanometer is a billionth of a meter, about 80,000 time less than the width of a human hair
When did this technology begin? • The official birth of the field dates to 1989 • Scientists at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in California wrote the letters of their corporate logo from 35 xenon atoms. • These letters were so small that 300 million IBMs would find in the period at the end of this sentence.
Examples of Nanotechnology today • Chips for computers and cell phone contain nanoscale circuits • Stain-resistant cotton khakis are impregnated with nano-sized particles that cause liquids to roll off. • Some new Mercedes autos have a never-wax nano-finish
Examples of Nanotechnology today • Nano particles are found in car bumpers, sunscreen, ski wax, extra bouncy tennis balls, more powerful golf clubs and bowling balls that curve more accurately
Building things from the “bottom up” • Nanotech opens the door to building things from the bottom up • You can manipulate molecules and atoms at will to achieve unprecedented levels of precision • You can create new properties and materials that can only be imagined
Nanotech Engineering • The focus of nanotech engineering is on tools and processes • Traditional manufacturing methods have been compared to using boxing gloves to assemble Legos • Nanotubes are rolled sheets of carbon less than a billion of a meter side.
Nanotech Engineering • We need tiny machines, molecular assemblers, to arrange atoms and molecules
Implications • Nanotech pioneer, K. Eric Drexler, warned that “replicating assemblers and thinking machines pose basic threats to people and life on Earth • Michael Crichton addresses the threat in his novel, Prey, a sci-fi thriller about the escape of microscopic, self-replicating assemblers from a secret desert research lab
Implications • Drexler has now recanted much of his original claim but he insists that the industry should have a policy prohibiting “the construction of anything resembling a dangerous self-replicating nanomachine”
Bibliography Nanotechnology: Small Wonders, Mike Toner, Sunday, December 5, 2004 http://www.ajc.com/search/content/auto/epaper/editions/sunday/issue_142b8803420771560