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The current state of nanotechnology

  1. Dec 19, 2016 #1

    My question is not long, but it is very broad; Is nanotechnology simpy just a rebranding of material science?

    Is there anything else to it? I have not really seen it used outside chemistry and material science. Do simple nanomachinery exist?

    I guess on a more speculative level it exists, but has something actually been created that is more than just another, maybe more advanced, material?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2016 #2


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    Do you know how smartphones sense orientation and movement? :smile:
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  4. Dec 19, 2016 #3


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    Those are usually called MEMS sensors. Micro electronic mechanical systems.

    The smallest features of these systems will sometimes push the limits of nano-meter scale.


    All indicate that nanotechnology starts at 100nm. Are there any MEMS devises that should more accurately be called NEMS?

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2016
  5. Dec 20, 2016 #4


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    Sure, NEMS is a research field in itself (I have colleagues working on NEMS). That said, I am not sure if there are any commercially available NEMS devices yet.

    The answer to your question will depend on your definition of "nanoscience". There is certainly a LOT of work going on using nm sized devices and making electronic devices with feature sizes smaller than 100nm has been routine for a many,many years.
  6. Dec 20, 2016 #5


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    What applications are NEMS useful for? Are they the same sort of thing as MEMS only smaller or are there novel applications only achievable at the smaller scale?

  7. Dec 21, 2016 #6


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    I believe the application most frequently mentioned is gas detection; some NEMS resonators are extremely sensitive to any extra mass to the point where they can "sense" even single atoms attaching landing on the resonator. The obvious application of this would be a machine that could the do the job of a mass spectrometer but without having to ionize the particles first (which is a major limitation with current mass specs).

    There are also a whole range of fundamental physics experiments where NEMS devices (especially resonators) are used
  8. Feb 13, 2017 #7
    I've been fascinated by this article for sometime, http://www.nature.com/news/fire-up-the-atom-forge-1.21017
    "Electron microscopy is on the brink of a transition. Soon the imaging tool could be used to create structures atom by atom. This sort of control over atomic architecture could transform our basic scientific understanding of materials and pave the way to new classes of devices for quantum computing, spin sensing and more".

    Today I came across, http://www.nature.com/news/elusive-triangulene-created-by-moving-atoms-one-at-a-time-1.21462
    "Researchers at IBM have created an elusive molecule by knocking around atoms using a needle-like microscope tip. The flat, triangular fragment of a mesh of carbon atoms, called triangulene1, is too unstable to be made by conventional chemical synthesis, and could find use in electronics."

    Making molecules one at a time might not seem very promising, but Gross points out that current quantum computers, such as the Quantum Experience developed at IBM, use only a handful of quantum bits, or qubits, each of which could correspond to a single molecule. Even if you need to make 100 such molecules "by hand", he says, "it would be worth going through that manual labour".

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