Update on the definitions of nanotechnology

Monday, August 14, 2006

I have previously tried to compile various definitions of nanotechnology and ever since, there has been commentaries on updates from Mike Treder (CRN) and Dr. Raj Bawa. So, the latest compilation of the definition is:

"Legal" Definition

The US Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003, Section 2(5):

The term `nanotechnology' means science and engineering aimed at creating materials, devices, and systems at the atomic and molecular level;

The US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) website:

"Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications.

Scientific Definition

From Zyvex:

When it's unclear from the context whether we're using the specific definition of "nanotechnology" (given here) or the broader and more inclusive definition (often used in the literature), we'll use the terms "molecular nanotechnology" or "molecular manufacturing." Whatever we call it, it should let us, (i) Get essentially every atom in the right place. (ii) Make almost any structure consistent with the laws of physics that we can specify in molecular detail, and (iii) Have manufacturing costs not greatly exceeding the cost of the required raw materials and energy.

Center for Responsible Nanotechnology:

A basic definition is: engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and more visionary concepts. More narrowly, 'nanotechnology' refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, highly advanced products.

K.E. Drexler from his Paper, "Nanotechnology: From Feynman to Funding":

Although now used more broadly, the term nanotechnology has been used since the mid-1980s to label a vision first described by Richard Feynman in his classic talk, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” (R. Feynman, 1961). The Feynman vision (and rhetoric echoing it) motivated the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). An early NNI document (National Science & Technology Council [NSTC], 2000) stated under “Definition of Nanotechnology” that “the essence of nanotechnology is the ability to work at the molecular level, atom by atom, to create large structures with fundamentally new molecular organization.” An NNI promotional brochure (NSTC, 1999) spoke of “Feynman’s vision of total nanoscale control,” calling it “the original nanotechnology vision.” In his speech proposing the NNI, President Clinton (2000) invoked this vision on Feynman’s home ground: "My budget supports a major newNational Nanotechnology Initiative, worth $500 million. Caltech is no stranger to the idea of nanotechnology —the ability to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular level."

Dr. Raj Bawa:

The design, characterization, production and application of structures, devices and systems by controlled manipulation of size and shape at the nanometer scale (atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale) that produces structures, devices and systems with at least one novel/superior characteristic or property.