The growing field of nanotechnology is the study of matter at an incredibly small scale, generally between one and 100 nanometers. For example, a piece of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick, and a single red blood cell is about 7,000 nanometers in diameter. Nanotechnology enables and enhances products people use every day. Almost all electronic devices made in the last decade use some nanotechnology, including today’s most advanced computer chips. Nanoscale materials add strength to plastics while making them lightweight, and they make fabrics water- and stain-resistant. Some pharmaceutical products have been reformulated with nanosized particles to improve their performance.
Nanotechnology could bring about the next wave of innovation in science and engineering—the possibilities are endless. It has the potential to transform aerospace, agriculture, information technology, national defense, transportation and many other sectors. The next generation of nanomaterials will be stronger, lighter and more durable than the materials used today in buildings, bridges, airplanes and automobiles. Nanotechnology holds great promise for developing revolutionary tools to help create a more energy efficient world, such as fuel cells, batteries and solar panels. Nanotechnology can provide solutions for cleaning contaminated soil and water, and it will play a critical role in transforming medicine and health care.