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2. What is the current state of nanoscience and nanotechnology?

    Current knowledge of science at the nanoscale comes from developments in disciplines such as chemistry, physics, life sciences, medicine and engineering. There are several areas in which nanoscale structures are under active development or already in practical use:

    In materials science, nanoparticles allow for the making of products with mechanical properties very different from those of conventional materials and can also improve surfaces by adding new friction, wear or adhesion properties.

    In biology and medicine, a greater understanding of the functioning of molecules and of the origin of diseases on the nanometre scale has lead to improvements in drug design and targeting. Nanomaterials are also being developed for analytical and instrumental applications, including tissue engineering and imaging.

    A wide variety of nanoscale materials and coatings are already in use in consumer products such as cosmetics and sunscreens, fibres and textiles, dyes, and paints.

    The smallest components of a computer chip are on a nanoscale.
    The smallest components of a computer chip are on a nanoscale.
    Credit: NanoPrism Technologies, Inc.

    The constant drive towards miniaturization in electronic engineering has led to devices that are well within the nanometre range. Data storage devices based on nanostructures provide smaller, faster, and lower consumption systems.

    Optical devices have also benefited from this trend and new types of microscopes have been invented, that can produce images of atomic and molecular processes at surfaces. More...

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