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Welcome to the nanotechnology portal

Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers.

Nanotechnology is very diverse, including extensions of conventional device physics, new approaches based on molecular self-assembly, developing new materials with nanoscale dimensions, and investigating whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale. Nanotechnology entails the application of fields as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, microfabrication, etc.

There is much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios.


Free standing copper metal replica of etched ion tracks in polycarbonate


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A nanowire is a nanostructure with the diameter of the order of a nanometer (10−9 meters). At these scales, quantum mechanical effects are important — which coined the term "quantum wires". Many different types of nanowires exist, including metallic, semiconducting, and insulating. The nanowires could be used, in the near future, to link tiny components into extremely small circuits. There are two basic approaches to synthesizing nanowires: top-down and bottom-up. A top-down approach reduces a large piece of material to small pieces, by various means such as lithography or electrophoresis. A bottom-up approach synthesizes the nanowire by combining constituent adatoms. Most synthesis techniques use a bottom-up approach.

Several physical reasons predict that the conductivity of a nanowire will be much less than that of the corresponding bulk material. Nanowires also show other peculiar electrical properties due to their size. Unlike carbon nanotubes, whose motion of electrons can fall under the regime of ballistic transport (meaning the electrons can travel freely from one electrode to the other), nanowire conductivity is strongly influenced by edge effects. Furthermore, the conductivity can undergo a quantization in energy: i.e. the energy of the electrons going through a nanowire can assume only discrete values, which are multiples of the Von Klitzing constant.


Atomic force microscopy

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A scanning electron microscope image of a used atomic force microscope cantilever (magnification 1000x)
Credit: User:SecretDisc on Commons

View of cantilever in Atomic Force Microscope (magnification 1000x)


Xiaowei Zhuang b. 1972

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Xiaowei Zhuang is a Chinese-American biophysicist at Harvard University best known for her work in the development of Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM). She received the 2015 UPenn NBIC Award for Research Excellence in Nanotechnology "for her work in the development and application of advanced optical imaging techniques for the studies of biological systems".



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