Anions: an ion consists of one or more atoms and carries a unit charge of electricity. Those that are negative ions (hydroxyl and acidic atoms or groups) are called anions (cf. cation).
Atom: the smallest unit of a chemical element, about a third of a nanometer in diameter. Atoms make up molecules and solid objects.
Atomic Force Microscopy / Microscope (AFM): atomic force microscopy is a technique for analyzing the surface of a rigid material all the way down to the level of the atom. AFM uses a mechanical probe to magnify surface features up to 100,000,000 times, and produces 3D images of the surface. The technique is derived from a related technology, called scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). The difference is that AFM does not require the sample to conduct electricity, whereas STM does. AFM also works in regular room temperatures, while STM requires special temperature and other conditions. AFM is being used to understand materials problems in many areas including data storage, telecommunications, biomedicine, chemistry, and aerospace. The atomic force microscope was invented in 1986. It uses various forces that occur when two objects are brought within nanometers of each other. An AFM can work either when the probe is in contact with a surface, causing a repulsive force, or when it is a few nanometers away, where the force is attractive.
Bar: a unit of pressure equal to one million (106) dynes, equivalent to 10 newtons, per square centimeter. This is approximately the pressure exerted by Earth's atmosphere at sea level.
Biomimetic: imitating, copying, or learning from nature.
Biomimetics: the design of systems, materials, and their functionality to mimic nature. Current examples include layering of materials to achieve the hardness of an abalone shell or understanding why spider silk is stronger than steel.
Bolometer: a device for measuring the energy of incident electromagnetic radiation.
Bottom up: building organic and inorganic structures atom-by-atom, or molecule-by-molecule.
Buckminsterfullerene: a sphere of sixty carbon atoms, also called a buckyball. Named after the architect Buckminster Fuller, who is famous for the geodesic dome that buckyballs resemble.
Buckyball: a popular name for Buckminsterfullerene.
Catalyst: a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction by reducing the activation energy, but which is left unchanged by the reaction. A catalyst works by providing a convenient surface for the reaction to occur. The reacting particles gather on the catalyst surface and either collides more frequently with each other or more of the collisions result in a reaction between particles because the catalyst can lower the activation energy for the reaction.
Cations: an ion consists of one or more atoms and carries a unit charge of electricity. Those that are positively electrified (hydrogen and the metals) are called cations (cf. anion).
Cell: a small structural unit, surrounded by a membrane, making up living things.
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD): a technique used to deposit coatings, where chemicals are first vaporized, and then applied using an inert carrier gas such as nitrogen.
Chirality: the characteristic of a structure (usually a molecule) that makes it impossible to superimpose it on its mirror image.
Colloid: a mixture in which one substance is divided into minute particles (called colloidal particles) and dispersed throughout a second substance. The mixture is also called a colloidal system, colloidal solution, or colloidal dispersion. Colloid science is the study of systems involving small particles of one substance suspended in another. Suspensions in liquids form the basis of a wide variety of systems of scientific and technological importance, including paints, ceramics, cosmetics, agricultural sprays, detergents, soils, biological cells, and many food preparations.
Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS): the semiconductor technology used in the transistors that are manufactured into most of today's computer microchips.
Composites: combinations of metals, ceramics, polymers, and biological materials that allow multi-functional behavior. One common practice is reinforcing polymers or ceramics with ceramic fibers to increase strength while retaining light weight and avoiding the brittleness of the monolithic ceramic. Materials used in the body often combine biological and structural functions (e.g., the encapsulation of drugs).
Dendrimer: a dendrimer is an artificially manufactured or synthesized molecule built up from branched units called monomers. Such processes involve working on the scale of nanometers. Technically, a dendrimer is a polymer, which is a large molecule comprised of many smaller ones linked together.
Diode: a diode is a specialized electronic component with two electrodes called the anode and the cathode. Most diodes are made with semiconductor materials such as silicon, germanium, or selenium. Diodes can be used as rectifiers, signal limiters, voltage regulators, switches, signal modulators, signal mixers, signal demodulators, and oscillators.
Dip Pen Nanolithography: a direct-write soft lithography technique that is used to create nanostructures on a substrate of interest by delivering collections of molecules via capillary transport from an AFM tip to a surface.
Dry Nanotechnology: derives from surface science and physical chemistry, focuses on fabrication of structures in carbon silicon, and other inorganic materials. Unlike the 'wet' technology, 'dry' techniques admit use of metals and semiconductors. The active conduction electrons of these materials make them too reactive to operate in a 'wet' environment, but these same electrons provide the physical properties that make 'dry' nanostructures promising as electronic, magnetic, and optical devices. Another objective is to develop 'dry' structures that possess some of the same attributes of the self-assembly that the wet ones exhibit.
Electro Scanning Microscope (ESM): used for the study of surface morphology and the determination of the thickness of MBE grown films.
Ellipsometry: a technique used to optically characterize material types such as semiconductors, dielectrics, metals, organic polymers and plastics in thin films, thin films stacks and in nanostructures. Ellipsometry does not contact or damage samples, and is an ideal and precise measurement technique for determining optical and, hence, physical and chemical properties of materials at the nanoscale. It is most commonly used to accurately measure film thickness and optical properties.
ESM: Electro Scanning Microscope
Fullerene: a Fullerene is a pure carbon molecule composed of at least 60 atoms of carbon. They are cage-like structures of carbon atoms; the most abundant form produced is Buckminster-fullerene (C60), with sixty carbon atoms arranged in a spherical structure. Because a Fullerene takes a shape similar to a soccer ball or a geodesic dome, it is sometimes referred to as a buckyball after the inventor of the geodesic dome, Buckminster Fuller, for whom the Fullerene is more formally named.
HRTEM: High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy
Hydrocarbon: an organic compound that contains only carbon and hydrogen; classified, according to the arrangement of the atoms and the chemical properties of the compounds, as alicyclic, aliphatic, and aromatic; derived mostly from crude petroleum and also from coal tar and plant sources.
Ion: an atom or group of atoms in which the number of electrons is different from the number of protons. If the number of electrons is less than the number of protons, the particle is a positive ion, also called a cation. If the number of electrons is greater than the number of protons, the particle is a negative ion, also called an anion.
Langmuir-Blodgett: the name of a nanofabrication technique used to create ultrathin films (monolayers and isolated molecular layers), the end result of which is called a Langmuir-Blodgett film.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): technology used for displays in notebook and other smaller computers. LCDs allow displays to be much thinner than cathode ray tube technology. LCDs consume much less power because they work on the principle of blocking light rather than emitting it.
LED (Light Emitting Diode): a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electrical current passes through it. The light is not particularly bright, but in most LEDs it is monochromatic, occurring at a single wavelength. The output from an LED can range from red (at a wavelength of ~700 nm) to blue-violet (~400 nm).
Ligand: an ion, a molecule, or a molecular group that binds to another chemical entity to form a larger complex.
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery: a rechargeable battery with twice the energy capacity of a nickel-cadmium battery and greater stability and safety.
Macromolecule: a complex large molecule formed from simpler molecules, usually with a diameter ranging from about 100-10,000 angstroms (10
Matrix: substance within which something else originates, develops, or is contained.
Mechatronics: the study of the melding of AI and electromechanical machines to make machines that are greater than the sum of their parts.
MEMS: MicroElectroMechanical Systems
Microencapsulation: individually encapsulated small particles.
Microfluidics: the science of designing, manufacturing, and formulating devices and processes that deal with volumes of fluid on the order of nanoliters (symbolized nl and representing units of 10-9 liter) or picoliters (symbolized pl and representing units of 10-12 liter).
Molecular Assembler: also known as an assembler, a molecular assembler is a molecular machine that can build a molecular structure from its component building blocks.
Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE): process used to make compound (multi-layer) semiconductors. Consists of depositing alternating layers of materials, layer by layer, one type after another (such as the semiconductors gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide).
Moore's Law: the observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every 18 months since the integrated circuit was invented. Moore predicted that this trend would continue for the foreseeable future MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MWNT: Multi Walled Nanotubes
Nano: a prefix meaning 10
or one billionth (1/1,000,000,000).
Nanoarray: an ultra-sensitive, ultra-miniaturized array for biomolecular analysis.
Nanobiotechnology: applies the tools and processes of nano/microfabrication to build devices for studying biosystems.
Nano-bubble: an ultra-fine gas bubble of diameter less than 1 Μm (1 Μm=1/1,000,000 m). It usually occurs temporarily in the process of shrinking a micro-bubble, but disappears soon because of its physical liability (constant change). Recently scientists have succeeded in producing stabilized nano-bubbles by collapsing micro-bubbles instantaneously in water containing electrolyte ions.
Nanocomposites: polymer/inorganic nanocomposites are composed of two or more physically distinct components with one or more average dimensions smaller than 100nm. From the structural point of view, the role of inorganic filler, usually as particles or fibers, is to provide intrinsic strength and stiffness while the polymer matrix can adhere to and bind the inorganic component so that forces applied to the composite are transmitted evenly to the filler.
Nanocomputer: a computer made from components (mechanical, electronic, or otherwise) built at the nanometer scale.
Nanocrystal: molecular-sized solids formed with a repeating, 3D pattern of atoms or molecules with an equal distance between each part. Nanocrystals are aggregates of anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of atoms that combine into a crystalline form of matter known as a cluster. Typically around 10 nm in diameter, nanocrystals are larger than molecules but smaller than bulk solids and therefore frequently exhibit physical and chemical properties somewhere in-between. Nanocrystals are believed to have potential in optical electronics because of their ability to change the wavelength of light.
NanoElectroMechanical Systems (NEMS): a generic term to describe nanoscale electrical/mechanical devices. Nanoscale MEMS.
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.
Nanofabrication: design and manufacture of devices with dimensions measured in nanometers.
Nanofibers: hollow and solid carbon fibers with lengths on the order of a few microns and widths varying from tens of nanometers to around 200 nm.
Nanofluidics: controlling nanoscale amounts of fluids.
Nanohorns: one of the SWNT (single walled carbon nanotube) types, with an irregular horn-like shape.
Nanoimprinting: see soft lithography.
Nanolithography: nanolithography is the art and science of etching, writing, or printing at the microscopic level, where the dimensions of characters are on the order of nanometers. This includes various methods of modifying semiconductor chips at the atomic level for the purpose of fabricating integrated circuits (ICs). Instruments used in nanolithography include the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM). Both allow surface viewing in fine detail without necessarily modifying it. Either the STM or the AFM can be used to etch, write, or print on a surface in single-atom dimensions.
Nanomanipulation: The process of manipulating items at an atomic or molecular scale in order to produce precise structures.
Nanometer: one billionth (1/1,000,000,000) of a meter, 10
m, or a millionth of a millimeter.
Nano-optics: interaction of light and matter on the nanoscale.
Nanopores: nanoscopic pores found in purpose-built filters, sensors, or diffraction gratings.
Nanoscale: having dimensions measured in nanometers between 0.1-100 nm.
Nanoscience: the science of the controlling of matter on an atomic and molecular scale.
Nanosecond: one billionth of a second.
Nanoshells: nanoscale metal spheres that can absorb or scatter light at virtually any wavelength.
Nanosolids: solids that have dimensions measured in nanometers.
Nanospring: a nanowire wrapped into a helix.
Nanotechnology: the science of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale especially to build microscopic devices, such as robots, where dimensions and tolerances are in the range of 0.1 nm to 100 nm.
Nanotube: a microscopic tube with a diameter measured in nanometers where dimensions and tolerances in the range of 0.1 nm to 100 nm, and particularly one of pure carbon.
Nanowires: one-dimensional structures, with unique electrical and optical properties, that are used as building blocks in nanoscale devices.
Photonics: electronics using light (photons) instead of electrons to manage data.
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM): utilized in medical science and biology and in such diverse fields as materials development, metallic materials, ceramics, and semiconductors. SEM involves the manipulation of an electron beam that is scanned across the surface of specially prepared specimens to obtain a greatly enlarged, high-resolution image of the specimen's exposed structure. Specimens are scanned with a very fine probe ('tip') and the strength of interaction between the tip and surface us monitored. The specimen can be observed whole for assessing external structure or freeze-fracture techniques can be used to image internal structures.
Scanning Force Microscope (SFM): a SFM works by detecting the vertical position of a probe while horizontally scanning the probe or the sample relative to the other. The probe is in physical contact with the sample and its vertical position is detected by detecting the position of a reflected laser beam with a photo diode that consists of two or four segments.
Scanning Near Field Optical Microscopy (SNOM): the operational principle behind near-field optical imaging involves illuminating a specimen through a sub-wavelength sized aperture whilst keeping the specimen within the near-field regime of the source. Broadly speaking, if the aperture-specimen separation is kept roughly less than half the diameter of the aperture, the source does not have the opportunity to diffract before it interacts with the sample and the resolution of the system is determined by the aperture diameter as oppose to the wavelength of light used. An image is built up by raster-scanning the aperture across the sample and recording the optical response of the specimen through a conventional far-field microscope objective. (As opposed to conventional optical microscopy or far-field optical microscopy).
Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM): a device that obtains images of the atoms on the surfaces of materials - important for understanding the topographical and electrical properties of materials and the behavior of microelectronic devices. The STM is not an optical microscope; instead it works by detecting electrical forces with a probe that tapers down to a point only a single atom across. The probe in the STM sweeps across the surface of which an image is to be obtained. The electron shells, or clouds, surrounding the atoms on the surface produce irregularities that are detected by the probe and mapped by a computer into an image. Because of the quantum mechanical effect called 'tunneling' electrons can hop between the tip and the surface. The resolution of the image is in the order of 1 nm or less.
SEM: Scanning Electron Microscope
Semiconductor: a substance, usually a solid chemical element or compound that can conduct electricity under some conditions but not others, making it a good medium for the control of electrical current. Its conductance varies depending on the current or voltage applied to a control electrode, or on the intensity of irradiation by infrared (IR), visible light, ultraviolet (UV), or X rays.
SFM: Scanning Force Microscope
SIMS: Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
Soft lithography: a term for a collection of techniques (nanocontact printing, nanoimprinting, etc.) that are simple in concept and based around nanostructured forms, or molds.
Spintronics: electronics that exploits the spin of an electron in some way, rather than just its charge.
Sintered: to cause to become a coherent mass by heating without melting.
SNOM: Scanning Near Field Optical Microscopy
SPM: Scanning Probe Microscope
STM: Scanning Tunneling Microscope
Substrate: in nanotechnology the base material from which applications are built up.
SWNT: Single Walled Nanotubes
TEM: Tunneling Electron Microscope
Top down: refers to making nanoscale structures by machining and etching techniques.
Wet Nanotechnology: the study of biological systems that exist primarily in a water environment. The functional nanometer-scale structures of interest here are genetic material, membranes, enzymes and other cellular components. The success of this nanotechnology is amply demonstrated by the existence of living organisms whose form, function, and evolution are governed by the interactions of nanometer-scale structures.
XPS: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy