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Describes the building blocks of matter.

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Nano Mania

Nano Mania

Credit: NASA
Source: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fullerene_Nanogears_-_GPN-2000-001535.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

This picture shows two gears. Many machines have gears, including cars and bicycles. But the gears in the picture aren’t found in any of the machines you’re familiar with. That’s because these gears are so tiny. They are made of individual molecules!

Why It Matters

  • Tiny molecular gears are an example of nanotechnology. This is technology at the level of individual atoms and molecules.
  • You may not be aware of it, but nanotechnology is already being used in consumer products, including clothing and sunscreens.
  • Nanotechnology will dramatically change the future. It has many promising real-world applications.
  • Credit: Aaron Muszalski
    Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfslim/5673732040
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The iPod nano is an example of nanotechnology [Figure2]

  • For a quick introduction to nanotechnology, watch the following video:


  • To get a better idea of the tiny scale of nanotechnology, watch this video of a clever animation: 


Show What You Know

Read about real-world applications of nanotechnology at the links below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. How small is an atom? How small is the atomic nucleus? Compare their sizes to common objects. What does most of an atom consist of?
  2. What are some ways nanotechnology might manipulate particles as small as or smaller than atoms?
  3. How can nanotechnology be used to protect the flavors of foods or to fortify foods with vitamins?
  4. How is nanotechnology being developed to detect pesticides on crops? Why might this be useful?
  5. Explain how nanotechnology might be used in surgery.
  6. What are nano tattoos? How might they be used in health care?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fullerene_Nanogears_-_GPN-2000-001535.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Aaron Muszalski; Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfslim/5673732040; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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