Open Questions: Nanotechnology
See also: Carbon nanotubes -
One nanometer is a billionth of a meter. That is the width of five carbon
atoms. It is a very appropriate size scale for understanding one of the
more important directions in technology. The ultimate aim of "nanotechnology"
is to be able to construct useful things that are tens of nanometers in
size, or smaller.
We're not there yet -- the smallest sized features
that can presently be fabricated in silicon semiconductors, for example,
are about 130 nanometers, which is somewhat larger than a virus. Of course,
everything is relative. A human hair is typically about 40 microns
in diameter -- 40,000 nanometers. So we have
already the ability to make some pretty small things.
Open Directory Project: Nanotechnology
- Categorized and annotated links. A version of this
list is at
Google, with entries sorted in "page rank" order. May also be
Nanotechnology Now Directory
- Provides links in many categories, such as "academic",
"business", "government", "professional", "books", "news",
"newsletters", "white papers".
NanoApex Web Directory
- Very extensive categorized list of links.
- Links to science, business, and professional sites in various
- Categorized site directory. Entries usually include
- Medium size annotated list from the
Center for Nanotechnology at the University of Washington.
Small is Beautiful
- Lots of links, but no longer maintained. Hosted by NASA's
NSDL Scout Report for Mathematics, Engineering, & Technology:
- Eight selected links, February 15, 2002.
Sites with general resources
New Scientist Special Report on Nanotechnology
- Primarily offers links to many news articles from the past
several years of New Scientist magazine. But there are
also other features, including facts and figures, external links,
frequently-asked questions, and a short bibliography.
- By Ralph Merkle. Large collection of resources, including
bibliographies and lists of external links.
- Calls itself the "global portal for all nanoscience and
nanotechnology resources online". Maintained by the
Institute of Physics,
which publishes the print journal
site features news, recent research papers, and a directory of
- Nanotechnology portal that reports on "disruptive technologies
such as NEMS, MEMS, Nanoscale Materials, Molecular Manufacturing,
Quantum Computing, Nanomedicine, Nanoelectronics, Nanotubes,
Self Assembly, and Molecular Biology." The
Introduction page provides overview information on nanotechnology,
including a list of
frequently-asked questions. There is an extensive list of
externa links, and an extensive
glossary. There is also an archive of
nanotechnology news going back to 2001.
- A major portal for nanotechnology news and information.
News covers both scientific and business aspects of nanotechnology.
Site also includes discussion forums and general industry
information. Several email newsletters are available. Has an
extensive list of
- A "portal that delivers breaking news, exclusive small-tech
resources, large knowledge databases, and a place to discuss
nanotech and MEMS."
Features a very good listing of books on nanotechnology.
Part of the NanoApex site.
- General nanotechnology portal with a European orientation.
Deals with many aspects of nanotech, such as chemistry and materials,
health and medicine, tools, transportation, energy, and basic
science. Includes sections on news, organizations, events, and
Brad Hein's Nanotechnology Site
- Includes a listing of conferences and meetings and resource
lists of groups, books, papers, software, hardware, and external
Institute for Molecular Manufacturing
- "A nonprofit foundation formed in 1991 to carry out research
aimed at developing molecular manufacturing (molecular nanotechnology)."
Site contains many nanotechnology resources and links.
- Eric Drexler's non-profit organization.
"Foresight Institute's goal is to guide emerging technologies to
improve the human condition. Foresight focuses its efforts upon
nanotechnology, the coming ability to build materials and
products with atomic precision, and upon systems that will
enhance knowledge exchange and critical discussion, thus
improving public and private policy decisions.
Nanodot: News and Discussion of Emerging Technologies
- Affiliated with
Foresight Institute. A Weblog containing news, opinion, polls, and
other information related to nanotechnology.
Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology
- At Rice University. Formerly directed by the late
NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology
- Part of the U. S.
National Institute of Standards and Technology.
"The Center enables science and industry by providing essential
measurement methods, instrumentation, and standards to support
all phases of nanotechnology development, from discovery to
Scientific American Nanotechnology Channel
- Good collection of articles and news stories on nanotechnology.
See also the
California NanoSystems Institute
- State-sponsored research institution at the University of
California at Los Angeles.
Nanotechnology, Nanoscience, and Nanoengineering at PNNL
- The Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory (PNNL) has a substantial research program in
nanomaterials and nanobiology. The site describes the research
and provides related information, resources, and external links.
Cardiff University Nanophysics
- Research group which is part of the School of Physics and
Astronomy at Cardiff University (Wales). Pages describe
research interests and include links to related information.
Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology
- CBEN aims "to transform nanoscience into a field with the impact
of a modern-day polymer science." It "focuses on research at the
interface between "dry" nanomaterials and aqueous media such as
biology and the environment, developing the nanoscience workforce of
the future, and transferring discoveries to industry."
London Centre for Nanotechnology
- The center "has been designed to act as a focus for current
interdisciplinary nanoscale materials and device research." The
Web site describes the center, describes its areas of research
focus, and provides some select high-level
Institute of Nanotechnology
- UK organization which provides information on nanotechnology,
encourages information exchange between scientists, helps
coordinate research projects, and promotes education. The site
provides information about books and courses on nanotechnology,
news and general information on the field, and
NASA Center for Nanotechnology
- General information about NASA's research program in
nanotechnology at the Ames Research Center. Most notable site
feature is the
Nanotechnology Gallery, which contains many images and
animations related to nanotechnology.
The ASME Nanotechnology Institute
- Site maintained by the
American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
- Technical/professional journal published by the
Institute of Physics.
New articles are free for 30 days after online publication.
- Contains many interviews of nanotechnologists but doesn't
seem to have new material since November 2002.
IBM Research Nanoscale Science Department
- Research group investigating carbon nanotubes, nanolithography
and silicon nanoelectronics.
IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, Nanoscale Science
- Describes current nanoscience research areas under
investigation at the laboratory.
Molecular Nanotechnology at Zyvex
- Zyvex calls itself "the first molecular nanotechnology company".
Surveys, overviews, tutorials
- Article from
- A ScienceWeek
"symposium" consisting of excerpts and summaries of
articles from various sources.
There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom
- Classic 1959 talk given by Richard Feynman. One of the
inspirations for nanotechnology.
Ultrasmall Structures Bring Big Future
- Promotional March 2002 article by NEC about its R & D work in
Nanotechnology and the Next 50 Years
- Presentation by
Richard Smalley, December 7, 1995.
Friction at the nano-scale
- February 2005 article from
Physics World, by
"Nanomachines will depend on our knowledge of friction, heat
transfer and energy dissipation at the atomic level for their
The future of nanotechnology
- August 2004 article from
Physics World, by
"Visions of self-replicating nanomachines that could devour
the Earth in a "grey goo" are probably wide of the mark, but
"radical nanotechnology" could still deliver great benefits
to society. The question is how best to achieve this goal."
Nanomechanics weighs in
- April 2004 article from
Physics World, by
Nikolay Lavrik and Panos Datskos. "Nano-scale devices can
measure masses with
a precision of one attogram, which is three orders of magnitude
better than the previous record."
Nanoelectromechanical systems face the future
- February 2001 article from
Physics World, by
Michael Roukes. "A host of novel applications and new physics could be
unleashed as microelectromechanical systems shrink towards the nanoscale."
DNA 'tweezers' take shape
- August 2000 news article from
"Biophysicists have built a pair of nanoscale tweezers entirely
from strands of DNA. The tweezers can be closed by adding another
strand of DNA as 'fuel', and opened again by adding still more DNA."
Nanoplotter draws multiple patterns
- June 2000 news article from
"Researchers in the US have invented a "nanoplotter" that can
draw multiple copies of a nanometre-sized pattern at different
places on a surface all at the same time."
Halting nanotech research 'illogical', says pioneer
- Brief interview, dated April 29, 2003, with Eric Drexler,
in New Scientist. Questions concern current overall
prospects in the field.
Little Things Could Mean a Lot
- March 2004 Wired News article about a nanotechnology business
Get Ready for New 'Nano' Products
- July 2003 Wired News article about potential nanotechnology.
Nanotech Gets Down to Business
- May 2003 Wired News article about a nanotehcnology business
Thinking Big About Nanotechnology
- May 2002 article about potential nanotechnology, from
Nanotech, but Not in a Nanosecond
- November 2001 article about potential nanotechnology, from
Green light for nanomotors
- November 2000 news article from
Physics World, about
a "nanomotor" made of tin clusters on a copper surface.
Nanoscientists go on a roll
- September 2000 news article from
news article from PhysicsWeb
about carbon fullerenes and nanotubes.
- Brief July 2006 Scientific American article, subtitled
"Over the next two decades, this new field for controlling
the properties of matter will rise to prominence through
four evolutionary stages."
- Very brief May 1996 Scientific American In Depth article
about prospects for nanotechnology.
DNA on the move
Science News, September 11, 2010
- Nanobot 'spiders' learn how to walk.
How to Build Nanotech Motors
Thomas E. Mallouk; Ayusman Sen
Scientific American, May 2009
- "Catalytic engines enable tiny swimmers to harness fuel
from their environment and overcome the weird physics of the
- Nanotechnology and the Double Helix
Nadrian C. Seeman
Scientific American, June 2004
- Nano Patterning
Scientific American, February 2004
- The Nanodrive Project
Peter Vettiger; Gerd Binnig
Scientific American, January 2003
Taming High-Tech Particles
Science News, March 30, 2002, pp. 200-201
- The small size and still-unknown properties of nanotech
particles raises concerns about their possible health and
environmental effects. Research to clarify the possible risks
has already begun.
Little Big Science
Scientific American, September 2001, pp. 32-37
- Nanotechnology has achieved formal government recognition with
the U. S. National Nanotechnology Initiative. It is rapidly
becoming an area of scientific and technology research in the
same league as biomedical and military research. Although the field
was conceived originally in very speculative terms, it has begun
to pursue very practical goals, such as the development of
nanoelectronic devices which (it is hoped) can succeed
silicon-based electronics when the limits of that technology
- The Art of Building Small
George M. Whitesides; J. Christopher Love
Scientific American, September 2001, pp. 38-47
- Nanofabrication is the technology of manufacturing structures
smaller than 100 nanometers in size. There are two basic approaches:
top-down -- carving out structures from an existing piece of material
(as is done with microelectronic circuits today), and bottom-up --
assembling structures from individual atoms or molecules.
- Plenty of Room Indeed
Scientific American, September 2001, pp. 48-57
- The size domain in which nanotechnology exists -- between
macroscopic objects and individual molecules -- is governed by
both classical physics and quantum mechanics. A great deal of
research remains to be done in order to understand the physical
laws and principles that prevail in that domain.
- The Incredible Shrinking Circuit
Charles M. Lieber
Scientific American, September 2001, pp. 58-64
- Researchers have begun to create nanoscale electronic
components such as transistors, diodes, resistors, and logic gates.
The next step is to connect them in order to assemble useful
nanoelectronic circuits. The process may resemble chemistry
more than it does existing manufacturing techniques.
- Less Is More in Medicine
A. Paul Alivisatos
Scientific American, September 2001, pp. 66-73
- Some of the first practical applications of nanontechnology
will probably be in biomedicine. The possibilities include
research tools, diagnostic and testing aids, and drug delivery
The Once and Future Nanomachine
George M. Whitesides
Scientific American, September 2001, pp. 78-83
- Nanomachines already exist in nature in the form of many
biological components. They range from biochemical "motors"
that turn the flagellae in bacteria to the ribosomes which
manufacture proteins within cells. Such devices provide proof
of the possibility of artificial nanomachines.
- Making Molecules into Motors
E. Dean Astumian
Scientific American, July 2001, pp. 56-64
- Molecular-scale motors and pumps already exist in the natural
world in biological systems. Quantum effects play an important role
at this scale. It should be possible to fabricate such motors
artificially using techniques involving "quantum ratchets".
- Nanotech Goes to Work
Technology Review, January-February 2001, pp. 62-68
- Current work in nanotechnology is taking many forms, none of which
resemble "nanobots". But the potential applications of structures
less than 100 nanometers in size range from ultradense computer
memories to faster DNA chips.
- Say "Ah!"
Robert A. Freitas, Jr.
The Sciences, July/August 2000, pp. 26-31
- Nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology to the
treatement of infectious diseases and repair of biological damage at
the cellular level. The objective is the development of "nanorobots"
which would be of a size capable of interacting directly
with pathogens or damaged cellular components.
Biomolecules and Nanotechnology
David S. Goodsell
American Scientist, May-June 2000, pp. 230-237
- Envisioned nanotechnology artifacts are about the same size as
biological molecules like proteins and RNA. The biological molecules
may contain useful engineering lessons.
- Nanomedicine Nears the Clinic
Technology Review, January-February 2000, pp. 60-65
- Nanobots which can automatically repair cellular damage are
still over the horizon, but other medical applications of
nanotechnology may be closer. The list includes special polymers
known as "dendrimers" for use in gene therapy, nanoporous
membranes which are permeable only to very small molecules,
and nanomotors which can help deliver pharmaceutical agents.
- Will the Real Nanotech Please Stand Up?
Technology Review, March/April, 1999, pp. 46-53
- Up to now, nanotechnology has been more a matter of speculation
and basic research than of engineering and development. That is
starting to change.
- Nanotechnology: Art of the Possible
Technology Review, November-December 1998, pp. 84-87
- Interview with nanotechnology pioneer George M. Whitesides.
- The Incredible Shrinking Finger Factory
Discover, March 1998, pp. 84-91
- One step towards "true" nanotechnology is called
"microelectromechanical systems" (MIMS). Even here, fabrication of
such small devices is a major problem.
- Waiting for Breakthroughs
Scientific American, April 1996, pp. 94-99
- Some proponents of nanotechnology have made highly optimistic
predictions of the prospects for breakthrough accomplishments,
but not everyone agrees.
- Mark Ratner; Daniel Ratner -- Nanotechnology: A Gentle
Introduction to the Next Big Idea
Prentice Hall, 2003
- There ought to be a book like this for other important areas
of science and technology. It assumes little background, wastes
little time on history and "human interest" stories, and inflicts
upon the reader little gratuitous philosophizing. Instead it
efficiently explains what its subject area is about and why it
matters. In this case, that includes topics like smart materials,
sensors, biological structures, electronics, and optics.
- Michael Gross -- Travels to the Nanoworld: Miniature Machinery
in Nature and Technology
Perseus Publishing, 1999
- The author's professional expertise is in chemical engineering
and biochemistry, so it is not surprising that the first half of
the book deals with biological entities like genes, proteins, and
cells -- which furnish examples of what nature has accomplished
in nanotechnology. The balance of the book considers what human
technology may be able to do in the near future, with "quantum
dots", micromachines, and biotechnology as examples.
- BC Crandall, ed. -- Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on
MIT Press, 1996
- Crandall defines nanotechnology as "the art and science of
building complex, practical devices with atomic precision." The
ten papers in this relatively short volume examine various
possible applications of nanotechnology in two broad areas --
inside and outside the human body.
- Ed Regis – Nano: The Emerging Science of Nanotechnology
Little, Brown and Company, 1995
- Regis provides a decent history of the early years of
nanotechnology, through the middle of the 1990s. In practice,
this means primarily the ideas and work of K. Eric Drexler,
and the reception thereof by the rest of the scientific
community. Work in nanotechnology today is not what Drexler
had in mind – that will be for the future, if at all.
The future may regard Drexler's concept of nanotechnology
as somewhat like Charles Babbage's concept of computers,
prescient in general if not wholly correct in detail, so
the story is definitely worth knowing.
- K. Eric Drexler; Chris Peterson -- Unbounding the Future: The
William Morrow and Company, 1991
- Drexler's second book on nanotechnology. Aimed at a more
general audience, it describes projected applications.
[Book home page] -- with complete text.
- K. Eric Drexler -- Engines of Creation: Challenges and Choices
of the Last Technological Revolution
Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1986
- This is Drexler's original book on nanotechnology. In addition
to speculation about the technology itself, it discusses an array
of social consequences.
[Book home page] -- with complete text.
Copyright © 2002 by Charles Daney, All Rights Reserved