Standard Terminology Relating to Nanotechnology

 

  • Agglomerate: A group of particles held together by relatively weak forces (for example, Van der Waals or capillary), that may break apart into smaller particles upon processing.
  • Aggregate: A discrete group of particles in which the various individual components are not easily broken apart, such as in the case of primary particles that are strongly bonded together (for example, fused, sintered, or metallically bonded particles).
  • Atomic force microscope: A high-powered instrument able to image surfaces to molecular accuracy by mechanically probing their surface contours.
  • Buckyball: Geodesic spheres named for visionary engineer R. Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic sphere. Buckyballs are strong, rigid natural molecules arranged in a series of interlocking hexagonal shapes, forming structures that resemble soccer balls. One individual buckyball comprises exactly 60 carbon atoms. In 1996, Richard Smalley received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery of buckyballs.
  • Dendrimer: A synthetic, three-dimensional macromolecule formed using a nanoscale fabrication process. A dendrimer is built up from a monomer, with new branches added in steps until a tree-like structure is created (dendrimer comes from the Greek dendra, meaning tree). A dendrimer is technically a polymer.
  • Feynman: Nanotechnology traces its roots to the pioneering work of physicist Richard Feynman. In 1959, Feynman delivered a landmark speech in which he proposed a link between biology and manufacturing. He explained how biological cells manufacture substances. Feynman urged his audience “to consider the possibility that we, too, can make a thing very small, which does what we want—that we can manufacture an object than maneuvers at that level.”
  • Fine particle: A particle smaller than about 2.5 micrometers and larger than about 0.1 micrometers in size.
  • Fullerene: a molecular form of pure carbon that was discovered in 1985. They are cage-like structures of carbon atoms.
  • Nano: Pertaining to things on a scale of approximately 1 to 100 nanometers (nm).
  • Nanocomposite: a material that is stiffer and lighter than traditional thermoplastics, and less brittle in cold temperatures. Nanocomposites are made by introducing a solid material into a plastic resin to give it added strength. Because there is less additive material, they are more recyclable than olefins and other thermoplastics.
  • Nanofabrication: the practice of sculpting or building, with man-made tools, products, structures and processes with atomic precision.
  • Nanomanipulation: the process of building things from the bottom up, atom by atom. Nanomanipulation can be classified into two categories: Nanofabrication and self-assembly.
  • Nanomechanical: refers to a small, mechanical device, such as a robot, that can manipulate single molecules.
  • Nanometer: one-billionth of a meter, which is approximately the width of 10 hydrogen atoms. The width of the dot above the letter “i” in this sentence is approximately 1 million nanometers. The diameter of an average hair is 50,000 nanometers.
  • Nanoparticle: A sub-classification of ultrafine particle with lengths in two or three dimensions greater than 0.001 micrometer (1 nanometer) and smaller than about 0.1 micrometer (100 nanometers) and which may or may not exhibit a size-related intensive property.
  • Nanoscale: Having one or more dimensions from approximately 1 to 100 nanometers (nm).
  • Nanoscience: The study of nanoscale materials, processes, phenomena, or devices.
  • Nanotechnology: the science of manipulating atoms and molecules to fabricate materials, devices and systems. Unlike current production methods, in which existing parts and components are combined, nanotechnology takes atoms and precisely assembles them to produce items with desirable characteristics. Objects are built in a manner similar to the way bricks are stacked on top of one another to build a wall. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “nanotechnology” was coined in 1974.
  • Nanotube: a tiny, hollow cylinder with an outside diameter of a nanometer that is formed spontaneously from atoms such as carbon. When aligned in a certain way, their atoms can conduct electricity as effectively as copper. Aligned in a slightly different way, they are electrical semiconductors—midway between conductors and insulators. Nanotubes are also stronger than steel, so long filaments can be used to create super-tough lightweight materials.
  • Non-transitive nanoparticle:  A nanoparticle that does not exhibit size-related intensive properties.
  • Particle: A small object that behaves as a whole unit in terms of its transport and properties.
  • Quantum Dot:  A nano-scale crystalline structure made from cadmium selenide that absorbs white light and then reemits it a couple of nanoseconds later in a specific color. The quantum dot has been around since the 1980s when scientists were looking into the technology as a way to build nano-scale computing applications where light is used to process information. More recently, however, the technology is being used in medicine. The crystals are one ten-millionth of an inch in size and can be dissolved in water. When illuminated, they act as molecule-sized LEDs and can be used as probes to track antibodies, viruses, proteins, or DNA within the human body.
  • Transitive nanoparticle: A nanoparticle exhibiting a size-related intensive property that differs significantly from that observed in fine particles or bulk materials.
  • Ultrafine particle: A particle ranging in size from approximately 0.1 micrometer (100 nanometers) to
    .001 micrometers (1 nanometer).