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The ability of nanomaterials such as titania and zirconia to facilitate the trapping of heavy metals and their ability to attract biorganisms makes them excellent candidates for filters that can be used in liquid separations for industrial processes or waste stream purification. Similarly, new ceramic nanomaterials can be used for water jet nozzles, injectors, armor tiles, lasers, lightweight mirrors for telescopes, and anodes and cathodes in energy-related equipment.

Advances in photonic crystals, which are photonic bandgap devices based on nanoscale phenomena, lead us closer and closer to the use of such materials for multiplexing and all-optical switching in optical networks.

Small, low-cost, all-optical switches are key to realizing the full potential for speed and bandwidth of optical communication networks. Use of nanoscale particles and coatings is also being pursued for drug delivery systems to achieve improved timed release of the active ingredients or delivery to specific organs or cell types.

As mentioned above, information technology has been, and will continue to be, one of the prime beneficiaries of advances in nanoscale science and technology. Many of these advances will improve the cost and performance of established products such as silicon microelectronic chips and hard disk drives. On a longer time scale, exploratory nanodevices being studied in laboratories around the world may supplant these current technologies.


Carbon nanotube transistors might eventually be built smaller and faster than any conceivable silicon transistor. Molecular switches hold the promise of very dense and therefore cheap memory, and according to some, may eventually be used for general-purpose computing. Single-electron transistors SETs 2 have been demonstrated and are.

The single-electron transistor, or SET, is a switching device that uses controlled electron tunneling to amplify current. The only way for electrons in one of the metal electrodes to travel to the other electrode is to tunnel through the insulator. Since tunneling is a discrete process, the electric charge that flows through the tunnel junction flows in multiples of e, the charge of a single electron.


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Definition from Michael S. Quantum computing is a recently proposed and potentially powerful approach to computation that seeks to harness the laws of quantum mechanics to solve some problems much more efficiently than conventional computers. Quantum dots, discussed above as a marker for DNA diagnostics, are also of interest as a possible component of quantum computers. Meanwhile, new methods for the synthesis of semiconductor nanowires are being explored as an efficient way to fabricate nanosensors for chemical detection. Rather than quickly supplanting the highly developed and still rapidly advancing silicon technology, these exploratory devices are more likely to find initial success in new markets and product niches not already well-served by the current technology.

Sensors for industrial process control, chemical and biological hazard detection, environmental monitoring, and a wide variety of scientific instruments may be the market niches in which nanodevices become established in the next few years. As efforts in the various areas of nanoscale science and technology continue to grow, it is certain that many new materials, properties, and applications will be discovered. Research in areas related to nanofabrication is needed to develop manufacturing techniques, in particular, a synergy of top-down with bottom-up processes.

Such manufacturing techniques would combine the best aspects of top-down processes, such as microlithography, with those of bottom-up processes based on self-assembly and self-organization. Additionally, such new processes would allow the fabrication of highly integrated two- and three-dimensional devices and structures to form diverse molecular and nanoscale components.

They would allow many of the new and promising nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes, organic molecular electronic components, and quantum dots, to be rapidly assembled into more complex circuitry to form useful logic and memory devices. Such new devices would have computational performance characteristics and data storage capacities many orders of magnitude higher than present devices and would come in even smaller packages. Nanomaterials and their performance properties will also continue to improve.

Thus, even better and cheaper nanopowders, nanoparticles, and nanocomposites should be available for more widespread applications. Another important application for future nanomaterials will be as highly selective and efficient catalysts for chemical and energy conversion processes. This will be important economically not only for energy and chemical production but also for conservation and environmental applications.

Nanoscale Science and Technology

Thus, nanomaterial-based catalysis may play an important role in photoconversion devices, fuel cell devices, bioconversion energy and bioprocessing food and agriculture systems, and waste and pollution control systems. Nanoscale science and technology could have a continuing impact on biomedical areas such as therapeutics, diagnostic devices, and biocompatible materials for implants and prostheses. There will continue to be opportunities for the use of nanomaterials in drug delivery systems.

Combining the new nanosensors with nanoelectronic components should lead to a further reduction in size and improved performance for many diagnostic devices and systems. Ultimately, it may be possible to make implantable, in vivo diagnostic and monitoring devices that approach the size of cells. New biocompatible nanomaterials and nanomechanical components should lead to the creation of new materials and components for implants, artificial organs, and greatly improved mechanical, visual, auditory, and other prosthetic devices.

Exciting predictions aside, these advances will not be realized without considerable research and development. For example, the present state of nanodevices and nanotechnology resembles that of semiconductor and electronics technology in , when the first point contact transistor was realized, ushering in the Information Age, which blossomed only in the s.

We can learn from the past of the semiconductor industry that the invention of individual manufacturable and reliable devices does not immediately unleash the power of technology—that happens only when the individual devices have low fabrication costs, when they are connected together into an organized network, when the network can be connected to the outside world, and when it can be programmed and controlled to perform a certain function.

The full power of the transistor was not really unleashed until the invention of the integrated circuit, with the reliable processing techniques that produce numerous uniform devices and connect them across a large wafer, and the computerized design, wafer-scale packaging, and interconnection.

Similarly, it will require an era of spectacular advances in the development of processes to integrate nanoscale components into devices, both with other nanoscale components and with microscale and larger components, accompanied by the ability to do so reliably at low cost.

Nanoscale Science and Technology | Nanotechnology General | Subjects | Wiley

New techniques for manufacturing massively parallel and fault-tolerant devices will have to be invented. Since nanoscale technology spans a much broader range of scientific disciplines and potential applications than does solid state electronics, its societal impact may be many times greater than that of the microelectronics and computing revolution.

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Nanoscale science and technology, often referred to as "nanoscience" or "nanotechnology," are science and engineering enabled by our relatively new ability to manipulate and characterize matter at the level of single atoms and small groups of atoms. This capability is the result of many developments in the last two decades of the 20th century, including inventions of scientific instruments like the scanning tunneling microscope. Using such tools, scientists and engineers have begun controlling the structure and properties of materials and systems at the scale of 10? Scientists and engineers anticipate that nanoscale work will enable the development of materials and systems with dramatic new properties relevant to virtually every sector of the economy, such as medicine, telecommunications, and computers, and to areas of national interest such as homeland security.

Indeed, early products based on nanoscale technology have already found their way into the marketplace and into defense applications. In , as the tremendous scientific and economic potential of nanoscale science and technology was beginning to be recognized, a federal interagency working group formed to consider creation of a national nanotechnology initiative NNI. The Committee for the Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative was formed by the NRC and asked to consider topics such as the current research portfolio of the NNI, the suitability of federal investments, and interagency coordination efforts in this area.

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  7. Looking for other ways to read this? Executive Summary Page 4 Share Cite. A Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The National Academies Press. Page 5 Share Cite. Page 6 Share Cite. Page 7 Share Cite. Page 8 Share Cite. Would you like to change to the United States site?

    Robert Kelsall Editor , Ian W. Ian Hamley and Mark Geoghegan are both actively involved in the delivery of the course. All three Editors manage substantial research programmes covering low-dimensional semiconductor devices, structured surfaces and interfaces, polymers and soft matter. Permissions Request permission to reuse content from this site. Home Subjects Nanotechnology General. Nanoscale Science and Technology. Added to Your Shopping Cart. Description Nanotechnology is a vital new area of research and development addressing the control, modification and fabrication of materials, structures and devices with nanometre precision and the synthesis of such structures into systems of micro- and macroscopic dimensions.