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"This module was developed as part of a Rice University Class called " Nanotechnology: Content and Context " initially funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. EEC-0407237. It was conceived, researched, written and edited by students in the Fall 2005 version of the class, and reviewed by participating professors."


Nanotechnology is an essentially modern scientific field that is constantly evolving as commercial andacademic interest continues to increase and as new research is presented to the scientific community. The field’s simplest roots can be traced, albeit arguably, to 1959 but its primary developmentoccurred in both the eighties and the early nineties. In addition to specific scientific achievements such as the invention of theSTM, this early history is most importantly reflected in the initial vision of molecular manufacturing as it is outlined inthree important works. Overall, an understanding of development and the criticism of this vision is integral for comprehending therealities and potential of nanotechnology today.

Richard feynman: there's plenty of room at thebottom, 1959

Richard Feynman, From Wikipedia

"But I am not afraid to consider the final question as to whether, ultimately---in the great future---we can arrange theatoms the way we want; the very atoms, all the way down!" -Richard Feynman, There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom

The first time the idea of nanotechnology was introduced was in 1959, when Richard Feynman, a physicist at Caltech,gave a talk called "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom." Though he never explicitly mentioned "nanotechnology," Feynman suggested that itwill eventually be possible to precisely manipulate atoms and molecules. Moreover, in an even more radical proposition, he thoughtthat, in principle, it was possible to create "nano-scale" machines, through a cascade of billions of factories. According to thephysicist, these factories would be progressively smaller scaled versions of machine hands and tools. He proposed that these tiny"machine shops" would then eventually be able to create billions of tinier factories.[1]In these speculations, he also suggested that there are various factors, which uniquely affect the nano-scalelevel. Specifically, he suggested that as the scale got smaller and smaller, gravity would become more negligible, while both Van DerWaals attraction and surface tension would become very important. In the end, Feynman's talk has been viewed as the first academic talkthat dealt with a main tenet of nanotechnology, the direct manipulation of individual atoms (molecular manufacturing).[2]

"The revolutionary Feynman vision launched the global nanotechnology race."-Eric Drexler

Hence, long before STMs and atomic force microscopes were invented Feynman proposed these revolutionary ideasto his peers. As demonstrated in his quote (above), he chose to deal with a "final question" that wasn't fully realized till the eightiesand nineties. Ultimately then, it was during these two decades, when the term "nanotechnology" was coined and researchers, starting withEric Drexler, built up this field from the foundation that Feynman constructed in 1959. However, some such as Chris Toumey minimize theimportance of Feynman in the establishment of the intellectual groundwork for nanotechnology.[3]Instead, using evidence from its citation history, Toumey sees "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom"as a "founding myth" that served only to directly influence Drexler rather than the other important scientists, who affected the futuredevelopment of nanotechnology. Nevertheless, though the ultimate effect of Feynman's talk is debatable, it is certain that this workdirectly influenced Drexler's own research, which thus indirectly influenced nanotechnology as a whole.

Questions & Answers

what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
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Source:  OpenStax, Nanotechnology: content and context. OpenStax CNX. May 09, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10418/1.1
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