[ nan-uh-tek-nol-uh-jee, ney-nuh‐ ]

  1. a technology executed on the scale of less than 100 nanometers, the goal of which is to control individual atoms and molecules, especially to create computer chips and other microscopic devices.

Origin of nanotechnology

First recorded in 1970–75; nano- + technology

Words Nearby nanotechnology Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use nanotechnology in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nanotechnology


/ (ˌnænəʊtɛkˈnɒlədʒɪ) /

  1. a branch of technology dealing with the manufacture of objects with dimensions of less than 100 nanometres and the manipulation of individual molecules and atoms

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for nanotechnology


[ năn′ə-tĕk-nŏlə-jē ]

  1. The science and technology of devices and materials, such as electronic circuits or drug delivery systems, constructed on extremely small scales, as small as individual atoms and molecules.

a closer look

Nanotechnology is the science and technology of precisely manipulating the structure of matter at the molecular level. The term nanotechnology embraces many different fields and specialties, including engineering, chemistry, electronics, and medicine, among others, but all are concerned with bringing existing technologies down to a very small scale, measured in nanometers A nanometer-a billionth of a meter-is about the size of six carbon atoms in a row. (The prefix nano- comes from the Greek word nanos, which meant "little old man" or "dwarf.") Today, as in the past, most industrial products are created by pushing piles of millions of atoms together-by mixing, grinding, heating-a very imprecise process. However, scientists can now pick up individual atoms to assemble them into simple structures or cause specific chemical reactions. Propellers have been attached to molecular motors, and electricity has been conducted through nanowires. Nanotubes made of carbon are being investigated for a variety of industrial and research purposes. In the future, nanotechnology may be able to harness the forces that operate at the scale of the nanometer, such as the van der Waals force, as well as changes in the quantum states of particles, for new engineering purposes. The development of nanotechnology holds out great promise of improvements in the quality of life, including new treatments for disease and greater efficiency in computer data storage and processing. For example, tiny autonomous robots, or nanobots, may one day be sent into human bodies to repair cells and cure cancers, perhaps even extending the human life span by many years. The simple devices created by nanotechnology so far have not yet approached the complexity of the envisioned nanomachines and nanobots. Some scientists even see a dark side to the technology, emphasizing the need for caution in its development, particularly in attempts to create nanobots that can replicate themselves like living organisms.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for nanotechnology


[ (nan-oh-tek-nol-uh-jee) ]

A branch of technology devoted to producing devices on an atomic scale. The working part of a typical nanotechnology device might be only a few thousand atoms in width.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.