Nanotechnology relates to the production, research and use of extremely small structures. The word 'nano' comes from the Greek language and means 'midget'. One nm (short for nanometre) equals one millionth of a millimeter or in other words one ten thousandth of the thickness of one human hair. The nanometre scale is the scale of single atoms and tiny molecules. One nanometre represents about 4 to 6 atoms. Particles on a nano scale, so called nano particles, or polymers (smaller than 100nm) are the building blocks of this technology. The ability to utilise materials on the atomic level and the use of the unique phenomena that occur on that small scale, give a huge amount of possibilities for almost every field, for example energy and conservation technology, IT business, medicine and pharmaceutical industries. On an atomic level, there are no borders between chemistry, biology and physics. It all comes together into interdisciplinary technology, that means no demarcation for lots of branches.
The scale of a nano molecule compared to a football is the same as the football compared to the world.
The atomic scale
On the atomic scale used for ultra-thin coatings, the quantum effect (quantum refers to the smallest amount of a physical quantity) or the quantum mechanics (mechanics based on quantum theory) are of high significance. Whether around the house, in car businesses, aircraft engineering, material engineering or computer businesses, nano particles enable surfaces to become extremely tear and scratch proof with long protection against corrosion and a high sliding ability.
When molecules that normally bustle about unorganised in materials, are structured in a way that each atom stay where it should be, the impossible becomes possible. Materials get new powers when the atoms are controlled and closely arranged. Production processes become cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Nanotechnology manipulates molecules through current, magnetism or chemistry, so that they organise themselves. Nature serves as the model for that: the cell and its function. The aim of nanotechnology is making molecules organise themselves without the help of a human. If possible, these molecules should also reproduce themselves. Japanese scientists have made this possible already.
Nanotechnology is setting a trend for the future decades and opens new markets. Experts and the media name it the key technology of the 21st century.
Germany-wide the research in this field is supported by research institutions and businesses. There are special competence centres, which specialise in the field of nanotechnology. These competence centres are linked with, for example large firms, colleges, universities, research institutions and chambers of commerce. Venture capitalists, federal government and states finance these projects.
describes the application of nanostructures on surfaces. These surfaces can for example be superhydrophobic (the fluids reach the surface to form beads and run down) or super-hydrophilic (liquid to reach the surface, form a liquid film and expire if any). This means that the surfaces are sealed and therefore water-repellent. This allows an easier cleaning. There are also spray coatings, which form such nano-structures. These coatings are applied to previously according microstructured surfaces, a lotus effect can be achieved. Such treated surfaces are chemically stable and exhibit (for example, to solvents).
After the appropriate nano-substance is applied to the cleaned material, the nanoparticles were organized to the desired structure. Metals, glass, textiles, plastics and minerals. can be coated The advantage in textiles (eg carpets) compared with normal impregnation is the high mechanical strength, for example for machine cleaning. Use a nano-coating for example in bathrooms, as an anti-fingerprint coating on screens, as self-cleaning façade paint or as protection for cars.