Nanothechnology, present and future

Essay by manchildHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2005

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The above term coined by Dr Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation (1986) was intended to be a new science which would astound the world, having the same effect as the industrial revolution and nuclear power had on us. The word nanotechnology may be a new word to you now, but within a decade or two it could be one of the most important words to know.

The word is derived from the Greek word for midget, nano, and teks (technology), meaning to fabricate, or create. In metric terminology nano is a prefix, which refers to a billionth of, and in this case that is a billionth of a meter, a nanometer (10-9).

Nanotechnology, often called molecular technology, will simply allow us to arrange individual atoms, in all the different ways permitted by the laws of physics. We will build products up from the individual atoms, perfectly, and precisely placing each atom as we desire.

How we arrange theses atoms will ultimately determine what we make. If we re-arrange the atoms in coal, we can get a diamond.

Technology, as evolution has shown, progresses along a constant, but often-bumpy road. There are really only two variables on this road, and that is size versus power. You often have to sacrifice size for power, and power for size. But in this case, nanotechnology will satisfy both, it will re create all our perceptions on nearly everything. One example is a computer, which is the size of a sugar cube, but can store all the pages of the books in the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. Future computers are expected to be a million, or even a billion times faster that our current computers.

Governments, companies and individuals have all started to realise the importance of...