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By Icarus Tull


  • A nonometer is a billionth of a meter (10^-9) and spans approximately 10 atomic diameters.
  • Nanotechnology is the technology for designing, fabricating, and applying "nanosystems", that is to say, nanometer-scale systems.
  • A noncomputer is a computer whose fundamental components meausre only a few nonometers (<100nm).
  • Minimum feature size on today's state -of-the-art commercial integrated circuits measure about 350 nm.
  • Over 10,000 nanocomputer components could fit in the area of a single microcomputer component (= more speed and density).
  • nanotechnology and nanocomputers could introduce many new applications and possibilities.


  • Current photolithography technology - transfers the circuit design onto the surface of silicon wafer.
  • Option 1 - use X rays instead of UV rays because they have a smaller wavelength, which leads to smaller part size. Unreliable at present because the masks are fragile.
  • Option 2 - use electron beam placement. No mask is needed but the required time resources to fabricate is extensive.
  • Future problems - microscopic dust, quantum effects, electromagnetic field influences, and heat.


  • Current storage technology - long term = DVDs; short term = solid state RAM.
  • Options for short term - depend on the advances in the component size sector for lithography.
  • Options for long term - blue lasers. Currently blue lasers are being produced which will increase a DVD's storage capacity from 4.7GB (red lasers) to ~15GB (blue lasers).
  • Future problems - stability of data due to microscopic dust, quantum effects, electromagnetic field influences, and time needed to find data on disk.


  • Info Systems
    1. Wireless - currently available, but strong limitations to bandwidth and frequencies available.
    2. Optical - used in telecom infrastructure and being developed to chip level applications.
  • Displays
    1. Flat panel - LCD and Organic electroluminescent are available. Some problems regarding maximum size of the screens still exist.
    2. Optical - used in banners and "newspapers" to display information. Can be updated with new information at user's discretion.
  • Integrated Circuits
    1. Interconnects - fiber cabling and nanotubes are being exploited as alternatives to copper interconnect.

    Nanontechnology Terms:

  • Amide: a molecule containing an amine bonded to a carboxyl group
  • Amine: a molecule containing N with a single bond to C and two other single bonds to H or C but not an amide; the amine group or moiety
  • Amino Acid: a molecule containing both an amine and a carboxylic acid group
  • Anion: a negatively charged ion
  • Aromatic: a term used to describe cyclic pi-bonded structures of special stability
  • Assembler: a general purpose device for molecular manufacturing capable of guiding chemical reactions by positioning molecules
  • Atom: the smallest unit of a chemical element, about a third of a nanometer in diameter; atoms bond to create molecules and solid objects
  • Atomic Force Microscope: an instrument able to image surfaces to molecular accuracy by mechanically probing surface contours; a type of proximity probe
  • Automated Engineering: engineering design done by a computer system, generating detailed designs from broad specifications with little or no human input
  • Automated Manufacturing: as used here, nanotechnology-based manufacturing requiring little human labour
  • Bacteria: single-celled micro-organisms, about one micrometer (one thousand nanometers) in diameter
  • Base: in the Bronsted definition, a base is a chemical species that can accept a proton from another species; in the Lewis definition, a base is a chemical species that can donate and share a pair of electrons with another species; see 'Acid'
  • Bearing: a mechanical device that permits the motion of a component in one or more degrees of freedom while resisting motion in all other degrees of freedom
  • Binding: The process by which a molecule becomes bound, that is, confined in position with respect to a receptor. Confinement occurs because structural features of the receptor create a potential well for the ligand; van der Waals and electrostatic interactions commonly contribute
  • Bipyridinium: polymer derived from N,N-bis[(p-trimethoxysilyl)-benzyl]-4,4'- bipyridinium bpy 2,2'-Bipyridine Bond: two atoms are said to be bonded when the energy required to separate them is greater than the van der Waals attraction energy. Ionic bonds result from the electrostatic attraction between ions; covalent and metallic bonds result from the sharing of electrons among atoms; hydrogen bonds are weaker and result from dipole interactions and limited electron sharing; when used without modification, 'bond' usually refers to a covalent bond
  • Brownian Assembly: Brownian motion in a fluid brings molecules together in various position and orientations. If molecules have suitable complementary surfaces, they can bind, assembling to form a specific structure; Brownian assembly is a less paradoxical name for self-assembly (how can a structure assemble itself, or do anything, when it does not yet exist?)
  • Brownian Motion: motion of a particle in a fluid owing to thermal agitation, observed in 1827 by Robert Brown. (Originally thought to be caused by vital force, Brownian motion in fact plays a vital role in the assembly and activity of the molecular structures of life)
  • Bulk Technology: technology in which atoms and molecules are manipulated in bulk, rather than individually
  • Cam: a component that translates or rotates to move a contoured surface past a follower; the contours impose a sequence of motions (potentially complex) on the follower
  • Catalyst: a chemical species or other structure that facilitates a chemical reaction without itself undergoing a permanent change
  • Cation: a positively charged ion
  • CEC: process in which a chemical reaction precedes and follows the electron-transfer process
  • Cell: a small structural unit, surrounded by a membrane, making up living things
  • Cell Pharmacology: Delivery of drugs by medical nanomachines to exact locations in the body
  • Cell Surgery: modifying cellular structures using medical nanomachines
  • Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor: as used in CMOS transistors and CMOS logic
  • Covalent Bond : a bond formed by sharing a pair of electrons between two atoms
  • DeoxyriboNucleic Acid: a molecule encoding genetic information, found in the cell's nucleus
  • Diamondoid: stuctures that resemble diamond in a broad sense, strong stiff structures containing dense, three dimensional networks of covalent bonds, formed chiefly from first and second row atoms with a valence of three or more; many of the most useful diamondoid structures will in fact be rich in tetrahedrally coordinated carbon
  • Dipolar Bond: a covalent bond in which one atom supplies both bonding electrons, and the other atom supplies an empty orbital in which to share them. Also termed a dative bond
  • Disassembler: an instrument able to take apart structures a few atoms at a time, recording structural information at each step
  • Ecosystem Protector: a nanomachine for mechanically removing selected imported species from an ecosystem in order to protect native species
  • Enzymes: molecular machines found in nature, made of protein, which can catalyse (speed up) chemical reactions
  • Exploratory Engineering: design and analysis of systems that are theoretically possible but cannot be built yet, owing to limitations in available tools
  • Fullerene: a molecule formed in a hollow, hexagonal or pentagonal group shape; much of the work on fullerenes is focused on C60 (carbon-60), a naturally occurring form of carbon; these ball-shaped molecules are considered to have vast potential for the generation of new, organic compounds because each of the molecule's 60 atomic corners is available to bond with other molecules; the name is an homage to R. Buckminster Fuller, for his writing on geodesic domes; also referred to as Buckyballs
  • Group: a set of linked atoms in a molecule; a defined substructure; typically, a set that is usefully regarded as a unit in chemical reactions of interest
  • Harmonic Oscillator: a system in which a mass is subject to a linear restoring force, like an ideal spring; a harmonic oscillator vibrates at a fixed frequency, independent of amplitude
  • Intermolecular: Describes an interaction between different molecules
  • Ion: an atom or molecule with a net charge
  • Ionic Bond: a chemical bond resulting chiefly from the electrostatic attraction between positive and negative ions
  • Immune Machines: medical nanomachines designed for internal use, especially in the bloodstream and digestive tract, able to identify and disable intruders such as bacteria and viruses
  • Kinetic Energy: Energy resulting from the motion of masses
  • Ligand: In protein chemistry, a small molecule that is (or can be) bound by a larger molecule is termed a ligand; in organometallic chemistry; moiety bonded to a central metal atom is also termed a ligand; the latter definition is more common in general chemistry
  • Limited Assembler: assembler capable of making only certain products; faster, more efficiently and less liable to abuse, than a general purpose assembler.
  • London Dispersion Force: an attractive force caused by quantum -mechanical electron correlation
  • Molecular Electronics: any system with atomically precise electronic devices of nanometer dimensions, especially if made of discrete molecular parts, rather than the continuous materials found in today's semiconductor devices
  • Molecular Machine: any machine with atomically precise parts of nanometer dimensions; can be used to describe molecular devices found in nature
  • Molecular Manipulator: a device combining a proximal-probe mechanism for atomically precise positioning with a molecule binding site on the tip; can serve as the basis for building complex structures by positional synthesis
  • Molecular Manufacturing: Manufacturing using molecular machinery, giving molecule-by molecule control of products and by-products via positional chemical synthesis
  • Molecular Mechanics: A molecular mechanics program developed by Norman Allinger and co-workers; the MM2 model is the molecular potential energy function described by the equations, rules and parameters embodied in that program
  • Molecular Mechanics / Cambridge Scientific Computing: a molecular mechanics program developed by Cambridge Scientific Computing that closely follows the MM2 model, adding a graphical user interface and other features
  • Molecular Medicine: a variety of pharmaceutical techniques and therapies in use today
  • Molecular Nanotechnology: Thorough, inexpensive control of the structure of matter based on molecule-by-molecule control of products and by-products; the products and processes of molecular manufacturing, including molecular machinery Molecular Recognition: a chemical term referring to processes in which molecules adhere in a specific way, forming a large structure; an enabling technology for nanotechnology
  • Molecular Surgery / Molecular Repair: analysis and physical correction of molecular structures in the body using medical nanomachines
  • Molecular Systems Engineering: Design, analysis and construction of systems of molecular parts working together to carry out a useful purpose
  • Molecule: group of atoms held together by chemical bonds, the typical unit manipulated by nanotechnology
  • Nano: a prefix meaning one billionth (1/1,000,000,000)
  • Nanocomputer: a computer with parts built on a molecular scale
  • Nanocrystals: the building blocks of nanotechnology; a nanocrystal is formed by combining two or more inorganic substances, sometimes with only a single molecule of each substance; nanocrystals have been formed with a variety of different elements; the challenge researchers are facing now is to control their size and shape; advanced research is looking at combinations of silicon and germanium to produce computer memory; some of the first commercial nanocrystals combine aluminum and silica to produce commercial-grade coatings providing resistance to heat and rust; a string of nanocrystals is called a nanotube. Nanoelectronics: electronics on a nanometer scale, whether by current techniques or nanotechnology; includes both molecular electronics and nanoscale devices resembling today's semiconductor devices
  • Nanomachine: an artificial molecular machine of the sort made by molecular manufacturing
  • Nanomanufacturing: Same as molecular manufacturing
  • Nanosurgery: a generic term including molecular repair and cell surgery
  • Nanotechnology: areas of technology where dimensions and tolerances in the range of 0.1nm to 100nm play a critical role
  • Nucleus: the positively charged core of an atom, an object of -0.00001 atomic diameters containing > 99.9% of the atomic mass; nuclear positions define atomic positions
  • Positional Synthesis: control of chemical reactions by precisely positioning the reactive molecules, the basic principle of assemblers
  • Protein Design / Protein Engineering : the design and construction of new proteins; an enabling technology for nanotechnology
  • Quantum Mechanics: describes a system of particles in terms of a wave function defined over the configuration of particles having distinct locations is implicit in the potential energy function that determines the wave function, the observable dynamics of the motion of such particles from point to point; in describing the energies, distributions and behaviours of electrons in nanometer-scale structures, quantum mechanical methods are necessary; electron wave functions help determine the potential energy surface of a molecular system, which in turn is the basis for classical descriptions of molecular motion; nanomechanical systems can almost always be described in terms of classical mechanics, with occasional quantum mechanical corrections applied within the framework of a classical model
  • Receptor: a structure that can capture a molecule owing to complementary surface shapes, charge distributions, without forming a covalent bond
  • Replicator: a system able to build copies of itself when provided with raw materials and energy
  • Ribosome: a naturally occurring molecular machine that manufactures proteins according to instructions derived from the cell's genes
  • Scanning Tunnelling Microscope: an instrument able to image conducting surfaces to atomic accuracy; has been used to pin molecules to a surface
  • Sealed Assembler Lab: a general purpose assembler system in a container permitting only energy and information to be exchanged with the environment
  • Smart Materials and Products: materials and products capable of relatively complex behaviour due to the incorporation of nanocomputers and nanomachines; also used for products having some ability to respond to the environment
  • Thermodynamics: a field of study embracing energy conversion among various forms, including heat, work and potential and kinetic energy
  • Van der Waals Force: any of several intermolecular attractive forces not resulting from ionic charges

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    Technological Impulse - The Scenewash Project 20003