What is the use of a nanometer

Basics: what is nanotechnology?

The prefix "Nano" comes from νάνος (nános), the ancient Greek word for dwarf. The origin of the term nanotechnology is the unit of measurement nanometer (1 nm) in the metric system. One nanometer equals 10-9 meter so a billionth of a meter or a millionth of a millimeter.

A nanometer is related to a meter like the diameter of one hazelnut to the diameter of the earth.
For example, a nanometer in a copper crystal is approximately equal to the length of four copper atoms lined up in a row.

Nanotechnology…
... is the generic term for the branch of science and technology that is dedicated to the research, processing and production of objects and structures in at least one dimension less than 100 nanometers are.


100 nanometers - the gateway to the nanocosmos
Our scalp hair is 700 times thicker than 100 nanometers and grows about 3 nanometers per second. Even the smallest living beings on earth, the bacteria, are 2 to 50 times larger than 100 nanometers, which corresponds to the limit to the nanocosmos. Lymphocytes are around 50 times larger and cholera bacteria are 25 times over 100 nanometers. Viruses, on the other hand, are objects of the nanocosm. The bluetongue virus, for example, is approximately 50 nanometers in size.


The nanocosmos - another world

We are blind in the nanocosmos
The electromagnetic waves of visible light are four to eight times larger than 100 nm, the limit to the nanocosm. Light waves are therefore far too "coarse" to see the fine details in the nanocosm, and even with the best light microscope, nanostructures cannot be made visible. This is why nanoscientists use X-rays, electron beams or tiny "touch probes" with which they can scan surfaces atom by atom.

A quantum world
Nanotechnology objects are so small that you can count the atoms and molecules that make them up. Different physical laws apply to atoms and molecules than in our macroscopic world, the laws of "quantum physics". Although this sets limits to the miniaturization of our conventional technology, it is also a source of new possibilities and novel material properties.

The Nanotechnology is interdisciplinary and includes all branches of science and technology that deal with the nanoscale area. It includes physics, chemistry and biology and is therefore not a new natural science, but rather an S.Ammel term for all technologies used.


New material properties

Example: Electrical lines in the nano cosmos
A carbon nanotube is a grid of carbon atoms with hexagonal mesh that is rolled up into a tube. These small tubes could revolutionize electronics: Depending on how the carbon nanotube is wound, it has the electronic properties of a conductive or a semi-conductive material. Almost all electronic components could be replaced by nanotubes in the future.

Example: Materials with new properties
From the smallest nanoparticles, with a diameter of a few nanometers, new materials can be produced that have tailor-made mechanical, electrical, optical, magnetic or chemical properties, such as: B. harder metals, softer or more heat-resistant ceramics, conductive plastics and intelligent materials that change color or shape when an electrical voltage is applied. A world full of new possibilities!