Science made simple: What is Nanoscience?

Nanoscience is the study of matter at the nanoscale–dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers or 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Materials can exhibit unique phenomena at these small scales, allowing for new applications. Richard Feynman, a well-known physicist, stated in 1959 that there was “plenty at the bottom.” This meant that exploration and manipulating materials at the atomic level would open up new scientific opportunities and technologies. Nanoscience is today the name for this “room at the bottom.” It is integral to biology, chemistry, materials science, and physics research.

This research can be seen on television. A U.S.-developed nanotechnology known as quantum dots is used in some video screens. This technology allows televisions to display vivid, high-resolution colors with precise precision.

Nanoscience Facts

  • Nano is a Greek word that means dwarf. It is a prefix that describes one billionth of an item. One billionth of a meter is a nanometer.
  • The Department of Energy Office of Science is crucial in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), an American government research and development effort. It envisions a future in which nanotechnology will revolutionize technology and industry.

DOE Office of Science: Nanoscience Contributions

The advancement of almost all areas of technology depends on nanoscience. Five Nanoscale Science Research Centers were established by the DOE Office of Science (BES), an Office of Basic Energy Sciences (DOE) to meet this need. These centers can conduct multidisciplinary collaborative research at the nanoscale. These centers provide cutting-edge synthesis, characterization, computational tools, and scientific expertise. The centers collaborate with top scientists to create structures and materials with atomic-scale precision to predict, characterize and understand their properties.

These centers are close to existing X-ray, neutron probes, and advanced computing facilities. Researchers can then use these tools together. BES supports many pioneering nanoscale science, engineering, and technology research projects. This research supports the Department of Energy in its mission to improve America’s energy, economy, and national security. Scientists from both government and industry have supported applied nanotechnology research based on the foundation of discovery research.


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