Nanotechnology deal with devices on a molecular scale (10E-9 m). This is a rapidly emerging field whose influence will be as wide and as great as that of the computer revolution. See also my blog posts on nanotechnology.
A typical cell or the size of the smallest individual items perceptible to the average naked eye is 1/40 mm = 25 µm = 25,000 nm.
A red blood cell is roughly 10 µm = 10,000 nm.
An Escherichia Coli O157:H7 bacterium (associated with food poisoning) is roughly 2 µm = 2,000 nm.
A Vaccina virus (associated with Cowpox) is roughly 0.2 µm = 200 nm.
A T4 bacteriophage is one of the largest bacterial viruses (it attacks E. Coli) and is roughly 0.1 µm = 100 nm all around.
A Marburg virus (a.k.a. Ebola) is cane shaped and roughly 75 nm x 650 nm. Nature has been using biological "nanotechnology" for millions of years.
A Rhinovirus (often associated with colds) is sphere shaped and is roughly 25 nm.
A DNA strand is roughly 2 nm wide.
A typical atom is roughly 0.1-0.2 nm = 1-2 Angstrom. "Another way to remember their size is this: if an apple is magnified to the size of the earth, then the atoms in the apple are approximately the size of the original apple." -Lectures on Physics (1963) by Richard Feynman.
buckyball fullerenes, C60. One of the earliest manifestations of nanotechnology. Wacky properties!
CNT (Carbon NanoTubes). Arose from buckyball concepts. Strange properties, including stronger than steel by a factor of 20+.
DNA assemblage, DNA computing. 330 trillion operations per second, super computer in the size of a drop of water, self-powered by chemical bond breakage, a million times more energy efficient than silcon computers, pre-rigged for parallel processing. See Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.
FEDs (Field-Emission Displays). Nanotubes used to make very large sized, high image quality screens.
Millipede by IBM. "a data storage density of a trillion bits per square inch -- 20 times higher than the densest magnetic storage available today. ... -- enough to store 25 million printed textbook pages on a surface the size of a postage stamp...."
molecular biology, nanobiotech, nanomedicine
nanowires, nanomaterials, nanostructures, nanoelectronics, nanodevices, nanocantilevers, nanolithography. Think single electron transistors.
nanosensors. Capable of detecting even a single molecule.
space elevator. Space shuttle substitute using nanotube cabled elevator to outer space. Such an elevator would reduce the cost of delivering space satellites from $10,000 per pound to $10 per pound. Originally proposed in 1895, Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, a Russian visionary. Re-popularized by The Fountains of Paradise (1978) by Arthur C. Clarke. [HighLiftSystems.com and others]
Here is a small list of publicly traded nanotech companies:
Altair. Developed unique process for making nanocrystalline materials. Expected uses include fuel cells, batteries and thermal coatings. (NASDAQ:ALTI)
Nanogen Inc. Integrates nanotechnologies and molecular biology into a platform technology. Commercial applications are in the fields of medical diagnostics, biomedical research, genomics, genetic testing and drug discovery. (NASDAQ:NGEN)
Nanophase Technologies Corp. Uses a unique Physical Vapor Systhesis (PVS) process to fabricate nanomaterials. (NASDAQ:NANX)
NanoPierce Technologies GmBH. Specializes in integrated circuit connectors, LED arrays and smart labels. (OTC:NPCT)
Molecular Media Project. 'The aim of the Molecular Media Project is to use cells and atoms to perform useful computational tasks at the micron (10-6m) and/or nanoscales (10-9m) of organisation. There are 1000 mm in a metre (10-3m), there are 1,000,000 µm in a metre (10-6m), there are 1,000,000,000 nm in a metre (10-9m)!'
Nano.gov. Site for the NSTC's (National Science and Technology Council) subcommittee on NSET (Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology). EG: The site lists that the US President's R&D budget for nanotechnology in 2004 is $847 billion.
NanoSIG.org. ' the leading Northern California based membership organization focused on the commercial development of nanotechnology. Based at Nasa/Ames, we are part of a global nanotechnology network and act as a liaison to our European and Asian counterparts. '
Nanotechnology Database. NSF (National Science Foundation) sponsored database on nanotechnology. Includes listings of entities working on nanotechnology including academic sites, companies, government labs, and government agencies.
Nantero.com. "Nantero is developing NRAM™, a high-density nonvolatile random access memory chip, using nanotechnology. The company's objective is to deliver a product that will replace all existing forms of memory, such as DRAM, SRAM and flash memory, with NRAM serving as universal memory. "