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What is nano-technology?

I’m guessing everything reading this title “What is nano-technology?” instantly thinks of Tony Stark or Iron Man. We all remember his suit appearing from what seemed like thin air in endgame, right? He said that the way it worked is nano-technology, but what does that even mean?

Nano-technology is the study of objects in the nanoscale between 1 and 100 nanometers in size, which is really, really small as nano essentially means a certain integer times 10 to the power of negative 9. What’s interesting about this is the fact that objects in this size scale have really peculiar and different properties from objects in the macroscopic level.

Quantum dots are typically semiconductors such as cadmium sulphide, zinc selenide, cadmium selenide etc and they are small clusters of atoms that can be from 2 to 10 nanometers.

Because of quantum confinement, once you get below the 15 nanometer range, the band gap of the material depends entirely on the size of the material. The band gap is an energy range in a solid where no electronic states exist. This is not at all the case in material outside this range.

When band gap changes, optical properties differ. Therefore you can precisely tune the wavelength of light that they emit just by changing their size.

A scanning tunnelling microscope is a type of microscope which allows us to not only see atoms, but to move them around. So that means that you could literally build things from scratch by moving these atoms together. Scientists can use these microscopes to build certain things that could not be built outside of the nanoscale such as fast computers, modern batteries and even new types of solar cells.

You can think of it as playing with legos. You take a bunch of small objects that don’t really mean anything on their own; however once you put them together, you can build almost anything!

Scientists are trying to figure out how best to use nano-technology, what they can build with it and what are all the features and properties they contain. At the minute we cannot build a suit like Iron Mans, however in the future, with a brighter understanding of nanotechnology, it is certainly possible to produce the famous suit.

Thanks for reading!

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