Portal:Nanotechnology

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Introduction

Template:Localurl: edit Nanotechnology ("nanotech") is manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology. A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale, and so the definition shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter which occur below the given size threshold. It is therefore common to see the plural form "nanotechnologies" as well as "nanoscale technologies" to refer to the broad range of research and applications whose common trait is size. Because of the variety of potential applications (including industrial and military), governments have invested billions of dollars in nanotechnology research. Through 2012, the USA has invested $3.7 billion using its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the European Union has invested $1.2 billion, and Japan has invested $750 million.

Nanotechnology as defined by size is naturally very broad, including fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, energy storage, microfabrication, molecular engineering, etc. The associated research and applications are equally diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to direct control of matter on the atomic scale.

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Graphical representation of a rotaxane, useful as a molecular switch.

Molecular scale electronics

Selected article

Molecular scale electronics, also called single molecule electronics, is a branch of nanotechnology that uses single molecules, or nanoscale collections of single molecules, as electronic components. Because single molecules constitute the smallest stable structures imaginable this miniaturization is the ultimate goal for shrinking electrical circuits. The performance and complexity of conventional integrated circuits have been growing exponentially (a trend also known as Moore’s law) and has forced the feature sizes of the embedded components to shrink accordingly.

In single molecule electronics, the bulk material is replaced by single molecules. The molecules utilized have properties that resemble traditional electronic components such as a wire, transistor or rectifier. Single molecule electronics is an emerging field, and entire electronic circuits consisting exclusively of molecular sized compounds are still very far from being realized. However, the continuous demand for more computing power together with the inherent limitations of the present day lithographic methods make the transition seem unavoidable. Currently, the focus is on discovering molecules with interesting properties and on finding ways to obtaining reliable and reproducible contacts between the molecular components and the bulk material of the electrodes.

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DNA nanotechnology

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Atomic force micrograph of a two-dimensional DX DNA array on a mica surface, of the type used in DNA nanotechnology. Individual DX molecules are visible within the array. The field width is 150 nm.
Credit: User:Antony-22

Atomic force micrograph of a two-dimensional DX DNA array on a mica surface, of the type used in DNA nanotechnology.

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William E. Moerner in 2013

William E. Moerner b. 1953

Selected biography

William Esco Moerner is an American physical chemist and chemical physicist with current work in the biophysics and imaging of single molecules. He is credited with achieving the first optical detection and spectroscopy of a single molecule in condensed phases, along with his postdoc, Lothar Kador. Optical study of single molecules has subsequently become a widely used single-molecule experiment in chemistry, physics and biology.

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