Our Nanotechnology Glossary of Terminology is for folks who are new to nanotechnology and may not know some of the terminology commonly used.
Nanotechnology: Originally used to define any work done on the molecular scale, or one billionth of a meter. This term is now used broadly (& loosely) for anything that is really small (usually smaller than a micrometer).
Molecular Nanotechnology: Term to describe the manipulation & fabrication of single or small groups of atoms & molecules.
Nanometer: one billionth of a meter or 1/1000 of a micrometer.
Microtechnology: Working with structures, proteins & molecular groups in the micrometer range.
Arc Method: One of the synthesis methods for Carbon Nanotubes. This method creates CNTs through arc-vaporization of two carbon rods placed end to end, separated by approximately 1mm, in an enclosure that is usually filled with inert gas (helium, argon) at low pressure (between 50 and 700 mbar). Recent investigations have shown that it is also possible to create CNTs with the arc method in liquid nitrogen. A direct current of 50 to 100 A, driven by a potential difference of approximately 20 V, creates a high temperature discharge between the two electrodes. The discharge vaporizes the surface of one of the carbon electrodes, and forms a small rod-shaped deposit on the other electrode. Producing CNTs in high yield depends on the uniformity of the plasma arc, and the temperature of the deposit forming on the carbon electrode.” [Nanotechnology: Basic Science and Emerging Technologies”, M. Wilson et al, Chapman and Hall (2002)] CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Assembler: A molecular manufacturing device capable of positioning molecules through chemical reactions.
Atom: The smallest unit of a chemical element, about a third of a nanometer in diameter. Atoms are the basis for molecules & solid objects.
Atomic force microscope: An imaging instrument used to “magnify” at the molecular level through mechanical tracing of surface contours.
Automated engineering: Engineering done by computer systems without the input of humans.
Automated manufacturing: Manufacturing at the nano-level by assemblers & Replicators by themselves.
Bulk technology: Manipulation & fabrication of large groups of molecules.
Carbon Nanotubes: (CNTs) come in single walled, (SWNTs) double walled (DWNTs), and multi walled (MWNTs) varieties. CNTs can best be described as a graphene sheet rolled into a one dimensional structure with axial symmetry. CNTs are one of the primary building blocks which will be critical to the Nanotechnology Revolution. CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Cell pharmacology: The administration of drugs to precise locations in the patient by means of nanomachines.
Cell surgery: Precise surgery done by the modification of cell structures by nanomachines
Cell: A small structural unit, surrounded by a membrane, making up living things.
Chemical Vapor Deposition: (CVD) One of the synthesis methods for carbon nanotubes. Large amounts of CNTs can be formed by catalytic CVD of acetylene over Co and Fe catalysts supported on silica or zeolite. The carbon deposition activity seems to relate to the cobalt content of the catalyst, whereas the CNTs’ selectivity seems to be a function of the pH in catalyst preparation. Fullerenes and bundles of SWNTs were also found among the MWNTs produced on the carbon/zeolite catalyst. [Nanotechnology: Basic Science and Emerging Technologies”, M. Wilson et al, Chapman and Hall (2002)] CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Derivitisation of nanotubes: See functionalization of nanotubes below.
Dispersion of Nanotubes: A term to describe getting the carbon nanotubes into a well dispersed, liquid state, sometimes referred to a getting the nanotubes into suspension or getting the nanotubes into solution. To review the Cheap Tubes official recommendation for how to disperse out CNTs, please visit our resources page.
DWNTs: An abbreviation for double walled carbon nanotubes. At Cheap Tubes, our MWNTs <8nm diameter does contain DWNTs but we do not sell DWNTs by themselves at this time. Please visit our online store for more information. CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
DNA: DNA molecules carry the genetic information necessary for the organization and functioning of most living cells and control the inheritance of characteristics.
Enabling science and technologies: Areas of research relevant to a particular goal, such as nanotechnology.
Enzymes: Naturally occurring chemical substances in the human body that help a chemical reaction take place.
Exploratory engineering: Looking into designs & analysis of systems that will be possible in the future as our tools & processes are refined.
Fullerenes: A spherical carbon molecule in which the carbon atoms are arranged in a soccer ball shape. C60 was the first fullerene of the now thirty or more fullerene families. In a C60 structure, there are 60 carbon atoms and a number of five-membered rings isolated by six-membered rings.
Functionalization of Nanotubes: Also known as Derivitization of nanotubes: MWNTs or SWNTs which have received post production processing to add chemical functional groups to the ends and sidewalls of the nanotubes. Currently Cheap Tubes sells OH and COOH functionalized CNTs, please visit our online store for more information. CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Immune machines: Nanomachines applied for medical uses by aiding a patient’s immune system change or destroy viruses & bacteria.
Industrial Grade Nanotubes: Large quantities, up to metric tons (1,000,000 grams) of MWNTs in either >85wt% or >95wt% purity. Currently Cheap Tubes sells Industrial grade CNTs, please visit our online store for more information. CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Laser Method: One of the synthesis methods for carbon nanotubes. “In 1996, a dual-pulsed laser vaporization technique was developed, which produced SWNTs in gram quantities and yields of >70wt% purity. Samples were prepared by laser vaporization of graphite rods with a 50:50 catalyst mixture of Co and Ni (particle size ~1um) at 1200oC in flowing argon, followed by heat treatment in a vacuum at 1000oC to remove the C60 and other fullerenes. The initial laser vaporization pulse was followed by a second pulse, to vaporize the target more uniformly. The use of two successive laser pulses minimizes the amount of carbon deposited as soot. The second laser pulse breaks up the larger particles ablated by the first one, and feeds them into the growing nanotube structure. [Nanotechnology: Basic Science and Emerging Technologies”, M. Wilson et al, Chapman and Hall (2002)] CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Molecular electronics: An electronic system that is able to operate using single electrons for power; Further refined by the use of multiple parts at the nano scale as opposed to current technology of etching “parts” from a single substance.
Molecular machine: A machine that is atomically precise & of nanometer size, can also be used to describe naturally produced devices.
Molecular manipulator: A device combining a proximal probe mechanism for atomically precise positioning with a molecule binding site on the tip; can serve as the basis for building complex structures by positional synthesis.
Molecular manufacturing: Manufacturing using molecular machinery, giving molecule-by-molecule control of products and by-products via positional chemical synthesis.
Molecular medicine: A variety of pharmaceutical techniques and therapies in use today.
Molecular nanotechnology: Thorough, inexpensive control of the structure of matter based on molecule-by-molecule control of products and byproducts; the products and processes of molecular manufacturing, including molecular machinery.
Molecular recognition: A chemical term referring to processes in which molecules adhere in a highly specific way, forming a larger structure; an enabling technology for nanotechnology.
Molecular surgery or molecular repair: Analysis and physical correction of molecular structures in the body using medical nano machines.
Molecular systems engineering: Design, analysis, and construction of systems of molecular parts working together to carry out a useful purpose.
Molecule: Group of atoms held together by chemical bonds; the typical unit manipulated by nanotechnology.
MWNTs: An abbreviation for multi walled carbon nanotubes. Currently Cheap Tubes sells many different diameter MWNTs, please visit our online store for more information. CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Nano: A prefix meaning one billionth (1/1,000,000,000).
Nanocomputer: A computer with parts built on a molecular scale.
Nanoelectronics: Electronics on a nanometer scale, whether made by current techniques or nanotechnology; includes both molecular electronics and nanoscale devices resembling today’s semiconductor devices.
Nanomachine: An artificial molecular machine created through molecular manufacturing.
Nanomanufacturing: See molecular manufacturing.
Nanosurgery: A generic term including molecular repair and cell surgery.
Nanotechnology: See Molecular nanotechnology. Is used loosely by many companies & individuals to describe anything to do with things smaller than a micrometer.
Positional synthesis: Control of chemical reactions by precisely positioning the reactive molecules; the basic principle of assemblers.
Protein design, protein engineering: The design and construction of new proteins; an enabling technology for nanotechnology.
Proximal probes: A family of devices capable of fine positional control and sensing, including scanning tunneling and atomic force microscopes; an enabling technology for nanotechnology.
Scanning tunneling microscope: An instrument able to image conducting surfaces to atomic accuracy; has been used to pin molecules to a surface.
Self assembly: It is predicted that we may soon develop “smart molecules” which will be able to self assemble to form different materials. Current research has been focusing on the use of chemical bonds which are well known and widely understood.
Short Nanotubes: Short Nanotubes are 0.5-2.0um long, instead of regular length nanotubes which are ~50um. Currently Cheap Tubes sells many different diameter short MWNTs, please visit our online store for more information. CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Smart materials and products: Here, materials and products capable of relatively complex behavior due to the incorporation of nanocomputers and nanomachines. Also used for products having some ability to respond to the environment.
SWNTs: abbreviation for single-walled carbon nanotubes. Currently Cheap Tubes sells many different diameter SWNTs, please visit our online store for more information. CNTs have many unique and interesting properties, please visit our our resources page to find out more about CNTs.
Virtual reality system: A combination of computer and interface devices (goggles, gloves, etc.) that presents a user with the illusion of being in a three dimensional world of computer-generated objects.
Virus: A parasite that invades cells and takes over their molecular machinery in order to copy itself. Also a program that may act malicious on it’s own or through execution.
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