Nanonewbies Presentation at SCC on 29 April 02009

This webpage are the notes for part one of a three part lecture titled "What is Nanotechnology?"

The lecture was scheduled to last one hour and I was allocated 15 minutes. I find it almost impossible to speak about nano in 15 minutes (or 900 seconds or 900 billion nanoseconds or 900 giga nanoseconds).

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the world of the very, very, very small. The SI prefix nano stands for one one-billionth (10^-9) of something. For example, one nanometer is 0.000000001 of a meter. The following definition comes from Ratner's book Nanotechnolgy: A Gentle Introduction to the Next Big Idea: "Nanoscience is, in its simplest, the study of the fundamental principles of molecules and structures with at least one dimension roughly between one and 100 nanometers."

What is Not Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is not new; however, molecular nanotechnology is still science fiction.

Just because something has nano in its name doesn't mean it has anything to do with nanotechnology.

The iPod Nano by Apple Computer... "Nano is a metaphorical reference to its relative thinness -- measuring in at 0.27 inches or 6,858,000 nanometers. But Apple does claim that its iPod Nano uses a memory chip produced with nanoscale manufacturing methods." [source:]

India's Tata Nano is a very, very, very small car, but it is not a nano-car. "Nano" means "small" in Gujarati, the language of the founders of the Tata Group. [source:]

My Nano-Tex Treated Nano-Pants

A few years ago I purchased some Nano-Tex™ treated pants and I have demonstrated the pants numerous times. It just wouldn't be right to be do a nano talk without demonstrating my nano-pants.

   "Traditional coatings make garments feel stiff and clog the weave 
    of the fabric preventing breathability. Using nanotechnology, our 
    treatments are small enough to attach to individual fibers, 
    delivering superior performance characteristics without compromising 
    the look, feel or comfort of the fabric." []
    side-bar:  Oakland, CA-based Nano-Tex was founded in 1998.  The
               company's most recent press release is from 9 May 02007.
Number of Potential Nano Topics is Giga Sized
I had a difficult time figuring out what to talk about.

First, I considered the following title: "From sensors to nanosensors."

But healthcare is a timely topic: "Is It Bionano or Nanobio?" ["Swine" flu outbreak--leveraging nanotechnology for germ-free clothing/everyday contacts (e.g. door knobs, hand railings, etc.).]

But the age of robotics is rapidly approaching: "From robots to nanobots."

And then there's 21st century computing: "From Petaflops to Exabytes."

But I kept finding myself thinking about the keynote talk Wade Adams gave at the 2nd Annual Arizona Nanotechnology Cluster Symposium on 23 March 02007.

       Nanotechnology and Energy
    Be a Scientist - Save the World!

   Wade Adams, Amy Jaffe, Rick Smalley*
            *in memoriam


During his talk, Adams listed "Humanity's Top 10 Problems for Next 50 Years" and energy was problem #1 (followed by water, food, environment, poverty, terrorism and war, disease, education, democracy, population)).

Adams believes that "solving" the energy problem will help "fix" the other nine problems and nanotechnology is going to play a key role in solving the energy problem.

   From  About Wade Adams, Ph.D.

   02003 - present, Chairman of the Board, Texas Nanotechnology Initiative
   02002 - present, Director, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, 
                              Rice University, Houston, Texas
Energy in 02009: Solar and Batteries

Palo Alto, CA-based (privately-held) Nanosolar Inc. founded in 02002 has received $500 million if funding. Nanosolar's mission is to "deliver cost-efficient solar electricity." The company has "developed proprietary process technology that makes it possible to produce 100x thinner solar cells 100x faster." [Google co-founders are angel investors.]

Visit and watch some of the their video clips.


Watertown, MA-based A123 Systems is "Enabling a New Era of Sustainable Transportation." Founded in 02001, the company's "proprietary Nanophosphate technology is built on a new nanoscale materials initially developed at MIT."

Press release (14 April 02009): "A123 Systems, whose nanophosphate formula is an important ingredient in its Li-ion batteries, has received more than $100 million in tax credits from the state of Michigan."

Press release (13 April 02009): "A123Systems has raised $69 million from GE and other investors to accelerate the expansion of its US lithium ion battery manufacturing and smart grid capabilities."

Press release (06 April 02009): "Chrysler LLC signs agreement with A123Systems for advanced Nanophosphate Lithium ion prismatic battery cells, and jointly developed battery modules and battery packs for Chrysler's Range-extended Electric Vehicle and battery only Electric Vehicle production programs."

PCAST: President's Council of Economic Advisors in Science and Technology

On 27 April 02009, President Barack Obama announced the twenty members of PCAST.

Northwestern University is a leader in nanotechnology research and the Obama's PCAST team includes chemistry professor Chad Mirkin. Dr. Mirkin is Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology. Mirkin has started two nano companies: Nanosphere and NanoInk.

Nanosphere, Inc. (NasdaqGM: NSPH) is located in Northbrook, Illinois.

   "Nanosphere, Inc. develops, manufactures, and markets a molecular 
    diagnostics platform, the Verigene System that enables genomic 
    and protein testing on a single platform.  Its proprietary 
    nanoparticle technology enables earlier detection of diseases 
    through ultra-sensitive protein detection; and provides the 
    ability to run multiple tests at the same time on the same 
    sample." [source:]

   "The company is a pure-play in the global molecular diagnostics 
    market that, in 2006, measured $2.3 billion according to Boston 
    Biomedical Consultants. The market is projected to grow more 
    than 15% over the next five years." [source:]

NanoInk, Inc. is a privately-held company headquartered in the Illinois Science + Technology Park, which is located north of Chicago in Skokie, Illinois.

   "NanoInk, Inc. is an emerging growth technology company 
    specializing in nanometer-scale manufacturing and applications 
    development for the life science and semiconductor industries. 
    Using Dip Pen Nanolithography® (DPN®), a patented and 
    proprietary nanofabrication technology, scientists are enabled 
    to rapidly and easily create nanoscale structures from a wide 
    variety of materials. This low cost, easy to use, and scalable 
    technique brings sophisticated nanofabrication to the 
    laboratory desktop." [source:]

Creator: Gerald Thurman []
Created: 29 April 2009