TREND 25Nanotechnology and Materials Science

The One-Sentence Definition

Nanotechnology essentially means controlling matter on a tiny scale, at the atomic and molecular level, while materials science is the study of materials – characteristics, properties, uses, and so on – to understand how various factors influence a material’s structure.

What Is Nanotechnology and Materials Science?

Here, the two concepts are combined into one chapter since both nanotechnology and materials science are giving us exciting new materials and products – including tiny chips and sensors, bendable displays, longer-lasting batteries, and even lab-grown food. In time, we can expect advances in nanotechnology and materials science to feed into other trends already discussed in this book, such as smart devices (Trend 2), smart cities (Trend 5), autonomous vehicles and drones (Trends 14 and 19), gene editing (Trend 16), and 3D and 4D printing (Trend 24).

Biotechnology – which applies biological processes to industrial purposes – is closely related to both trends, and is leading to breakthroughs such as lab-grown human tissue. In this chapter, I’ll largely focus on nanotechnology and materials science, with a few examples from the world of biotechnology.

Let’s start with a quick overview of nanotechnology. Everything around you, from the chair you might be sitting in, to the book or tablet you’re holding in your hand, is made of atoms and molecules (which are atoms linked together). Nanotechnology ...

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