What It Is and How It Works

Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale, at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale.

Matter such as gases, liquids, and solids can exhibit unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties at the nanoscale, differing in important ways from the properties of bulk materials and single atoms or molecules. Some nanostructured materials are stronger or have different magnetic properties compared to other forms or sizes or the same material. Others are better at conducting heat or electricity. They may become more chemically reactive or reflect light better or change color as their size or structure is altered.

Quantum Dots—Color of fluorescence determined by size of particles and type of materials

Quantum dots: the color of fluorescence is determined by the size of particles and the type of materials

What is Nanotechnology?

Learn about the beginning of the science of studying the extremely small and its fundamental concepts.

Size of the Nanoscale

A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Find out just how tiny that actually is.

Seeing at the Nanoscale

Special high-powered microscopes have been developed to allow scientists to see and manipulate nanoscale materials. Learn about those microscopes here.

Working at the Nanoscale

Learn how scientists can carefully create, control, move, and change materials at the nanoscale.

Manufacturing at the Nanoscale

Find out what products use nanotechnology, how this improves them, and how they are made.

For more detailed information, see Frequently Asked Questions.