Nanotechnology relates to the production,
research and use of extremely small structures. The word 'nano'
comes from the Greek language and means 'midget'. One nm (short
for nanometre) equals one millionth of a millimeter or in
other words one ten thousandth of the thickness of one human
hair. The nanometre scale is the scale of single atoms and
tiny molecules. One nanometre represents about 4 to 6 atoms.
Particles on a nano scale, so called nano particles, or polymers
(smaller than 100nm) are the building blocks of this technology.
The ability to utilise materials on the atomic level and the
use of the unique phenomena that occur on that small scale,
give a huge amount of possibilities for almost every field,
for example energy and conservation technology, IT business,
medicine and pharmaceutical industries. On an atomic level,
there are no borders between chemistry, biology and physics.
It all comes together into interdisciplinary technology, that
means no demarcation for lots of branches.
The scale of a nano molecule compared to
a football is the same as the football compared to the world.
the atomic scale used for ultra-thin coatings, the quantum
effect (quantum refers to the smallest amount of a physical
quantity) or the quantum mechanics (mechanics based on quantum
theory) are of high significance. Whether around the house,
in car businesses, aircraft engineering, material engineering
or computer businesses, nano particles enable surfaces to
become extremely tear and scratch proof with long protection
against corrosion and a high sliding ability.
When molecules that normally bustle about
unorganised in materials, are structured in a way that each
atom stay where it should be, the impossible becomes possible.
Materials get new powers when the atoms are controlled and
closely arranged. Production processes become cheaper and
more environmentally friendly. Nanotechnology manipulates
molecules through current, magnetism or chemistry, so that
they organise themselves. Nature serves as the model for that:
the cell and its function. The aim of nanotechnology is making
molecules organise themselves without the help of a human.
If possible, these molecules should also reproduce themselves.
Japanese scientists have made this possible already.
Nanotechnology is setting a trend for the
future decades and opens new markets. Experts and the media
name it the key technology of the 21st century.
Germany-wide the research in this field is
supported by research institutions and businesses. There are
special competence centres, which specialise in the field
of nanotechnology. These competence centres are linked with,
for example large firms, colleges, universities, research
institutions and chambers of commerce. Venture capitalists,
federal government and states finance these projects.