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Nano-technologies - what is it?

The term "nano-technologies" was offered by Nore Taniguti in 1974 for describing the process of construction of new objects and materials by manipulating with single atoms. Nano-meter is a one billionth of meter. The size of atom is one tenth of nano-meter. The result of all previous scientific and technological revolutions was that people more and more proficiently copied mechanisms and materials created by Nature. The breakthrough in the sphere of nano-technologies is quite the other thing. For the first time human being will create a new matter that was unknown and inaccessible to Nature. In fact, science has come closer to modeling the principles of living matter creation that is based on self-organization and self-regulation. The already mastered method of building up structures with the help of quantum dots is this self-organization. The breakthrough in civilization is construction of bionic devices.

There is not, probably, a complete definition for the concept of nano-technology, but on analogy with now existing micro-technologies, it follows that nano-technologies are the technologies, operating with the dimensions in the order of nano-meter. This is negligibly small dimension, hundred times smaller than the wave-length of visible light and is comparable with atom dimensions. That is why it is a qualitative rather than a quantitative change - a jump from substance manipulation to single atom manipulation.

International System of Units (SI) the origin of prefixes

First prefixes were introduced in 1793-1795 at adoption of metric measurement system in France. It became conventional to take prefixes from Greek for multiple units and from Latin for fractional units. In those years, the following prefixes were taken: kilo- (Greek. chilioi - thousand), hecto- (Greek hekaton - hundred), deca- (Greek. deka - ten), deci- (Latin. decem - ten), centi- (Latin. centum - hundred), milli- (Latin. mille - thousand).The next years the number of multiple fractional units increased; the prefixes for their denotation were sometimes derived from other languages. The following prefixes appeared: mega- (Greek. megas - large), giga- (Greek. gigas, gigantos - giant), tera- (Greek. teras, teratos - enormous, monster), micro- (Greek. mikros - small), nano- (Greek. nanos - dwarf), pico- (Italian. piccolo - not large, small), femto- (Danish femten - fifteen), atta- (Danish. atten - eighteen). The last two prefixes were adopted in 1975: peta- (Greek. peta - five that corresponds to five decades by 103), and exa- (Greek. hex - six that corresponds to six decades by 103). Zepto- is a fractional metric prefix denoting 10-21. Yocto- is a fractional metric prefix denoting 10-24. For clearness, use the table:

Prefix

Prefix designation

Multiplier

Multiplier name

russian

international

Exa

E

1018=1000000000000000000

Quintillion

Peta

P

1015=1000000000000000

Quadrillion

Tera

T

1012=1000000000000

Trillion

Giga

G

109=1000000000

Billion

Mega

M

106=1000000

Million

Kilo

k

103=1000

Thousand

Hecto

h

102=100

Hundred

Deca

da

101=10

Ten

-

-

-

100=1

One

Deci

d

10-1=0,1

One tenth

Centi

c

10-2=0,01

One hundredth

Milli

m

10-3=0,001

One thousandth

Micro

m

10-6=0,000001

One millionth

Nano

n

10-9=0,000000001

One billionth

Pico

p

10-12=0,000000000001

One trillionth

Femto

f

10-15=0,000000000000001

One quadrillionth

Atta

a

10-18=0,000000000000000001

One quintillionth

When the question is about nano-technologies development, the three directions are meant:

  • Fabrication of electronic circuits (including 3d circuits) with active elements, that have size comparable with the dimensions of molecules and atoms;
  • Development and production of nano-machines i.e. mechanisms and robots of the size of molecule;
  • Immediate atoms and molecules manipulation and assembling of all existent from them.

At the same time, nano-technological methods, enabling scientists to create active elements and form multilayer 3D circuits from them, are actively developing today. Perhaps it is microelectronics industry that will be the first to perform "atom assembling" in commercial scale.

Though nowadays we have means for single atoms manipulation at our disposal, they can hardly be "immediately" applied to assemble something practically relevant: at least because of the number of atoms to be "mounted".

However, the possibilities of existing technologies are already sufficient to construct from several molecules some primitive mechanisms that follow controlling signals from outside (acoustic, electromagnetic etc.) and can manipulate by other molecules and produce devices similar to themselves or more sophisticated mechanisms.

In their turn, the latter will be able to create even more complex facilities and etc. Eventually this exponential process will lead to creation of molecular robots - the mechanism, comparable with a large molecule by their size and possessing their own inbuilt computer.


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