What is nanotechnology?
When you measure things, you use different scales. For example, you measure the height of a building in feet or meters, and the length of your finger in inches or centimeters. How would you measure something that's 40 times smaller than the width of your hair? That's when you'd use a unit called nanometers.
Objects that are nano-sized are so tiny that you can't see them. Even though it doesn't look like your fingernails grow every second, they actually grow one nanometer per second! Here are some more examples of the size of objects in nanometers:
Nanotechnology is a field where scientists and engineers try to make materials or tools that are small enough that they can be measured in nanometers. When objects are that small, sometimes they act differently than a larger version of the same thing. We all know that gold is shiny and yellow, but gold nanoparticles are actually red!
Each of these bottles contain gold nanoparticles floating around in water. The particles are too small to see, but you can see the color.
Some other properties, like strength or melting point, also change when you make materials that are very small. Materials engineers and chemical engineers use these different properties for new technologies. They use things like nanoparticles to deliver medicine in your body, or build very strong and flexible materials like carbon nanotubes.
Did you think that was cool? You can find out even more by clicking here.
What are some examples of nanotechnology in every day life?
You might think that nanotechnology is really high-tech and that you won't ever see it, but you are probably already using it!
Nanoparticles are found in sunscreen, because they help reflect the sun's harmful rays. They're also in your toothpaste, and protect your teeth by making a nanocrystal film over them. Nanoparticles are also found in your iPod or smartphone, where they help store things like songs or photos. All of these nanoparticles are made of different things, but they are all small enough to be measured in nanometers.
Check out this game to find more examples of nanotechnology in your life!