Chapter 1How Old is Nanotechnology?

Mrinal Chakre and Madhuri Sharon

Walchand College of Arts and Science, Solapur University, Solapur, Maharashtra, India

I want to know why the universe exists, why there is something greater than nothing.Stephen Hawking

Preamble

When we sat down to write this chapter, the first thing that came to mind was whether there are nanoparticles existing in nature which are not man-made or fabricated. Both biotic and abiotic natural nanoparticles came to mind. The next question was, “Since when?” Nanoparticles by definition are particles of any shape with an equivalent diameter of 1–100 nm, i.e., specifically those particles that are intermediate in size between bulk materials and atomic/molecular structures or quantum dots. These nano-size particles exhibit unique physical and chemical properties due to their distinctive novel properties related to a high surface area to volume ratio and/or quantum effects.

A quick glance at various scales of measurement (Table 1.1) gives an idea of how small a nanometer is. A nanometer (nm) is one thousand-millionth of a meter. For comparison, a red blood cell is approximately 7,000 nm wide and a water molecule is almost 0.3 nm across. People are interested in the nanoscale (which is defined to be from 100 nm down to the size of atoms (approximately 0.2 nm) because it is at this scale that the properties of materials can be very different from those at a larger scale. Nanoscience is defined as the study of phenomena ...

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