Nanotechnology unleashes the ability to see, measure, manipulate and manufacture materials at the nanoscale – the atomic level – where things exist so small, their dimensions are measured in nanometers. A nanometer (nm) is one-billionth of a meter. A particle which measures 100 nanometers or less qualifies as a nanoparticle. To give you a perspective of how small such a particle is, a single human hair is about 80,000 nm wide and a single red blood cell is nearly 7,000 nm wide – compared to a single water molecule, which is only 0.3 nm across.
The nanotechnology industry, also known as the molecular nanotechnology industry and the molecular manufacturing industry, is fixated on the nanoscale, because it is at this tiny scale that the properties of materials begin to take on powerful and unique characteristics that differ greatly from those at larger scales. Down at the nanoscale, odd objects with extraordinary properties take on strange names like nanotubes and nanowires, quantum dots, and buckey balls.
More than just a means of measurement, nanotechnology provides sophisticated tools, including a whole new breed of nano-microscopes, to manipulate and control matter at the atomic level. New tools of manipulation are continuously being developed and improved, enabling technologists from a broadening range of industries and industry sub segments to manipulate matter in unique and even disruptive ways never before imagined.
In fact, nanotechnology meets the qualifications of a disruptive technology in all aspects. It promises to revolutionize worldwide markets by superseding existing technologies, because it is often significantly less expensive than current technologies, usually much higher performing and more functional, and often more convenient to use. It represents a true paradigm shift – one in which organizations prepared for change and ready to adapt succeed; but those that are not, fall behind and ultimately disappear.
As our ability to work on the nanoscale progresses, an increasingly diverse array of companies and initiatives is establishing itself across the nanotechnology landscape to create specific nano-based products that are significantly impacting industries such as: