A nanometer is equal to 10-9 meter. Atoms,
which are often modeled as solid spheres, are typically about
0.3 nm in diameter, human hair is 1000 nm in diameter and
the typical human being has a height of the order of 1000000000
nm (1 m!).
The field of nanomaterials,
involves materials that have at least one dimension of the
order of 100 nm or less. Processing and studying materials
with such small dimensions presents its own challenges. Imagine
splitting a human hair into two along its length. Difficult,
right? Now imagine splitting some thing that is 1/10 th the
size. Even more difficult, aye? Nanomaterial scientists process
and study materials that are even smaller.
The term nanotechnology,
as the name would suggest involves technologies based on dimensions
of the order 1000 nanometers or less. The computer chip that
enables you to read this article is the best example. A typical
feature size on this chip is about 65 nm and is the best example
of the success of nanotechnology.
For more information on nanomaterials and
nanotechnology at MRC visit the home
page and click on the photos.