It’s time to celebrate the little things. 9 October is Nanotechnology Day! Also known as nanoscience, nanotechnology is engineering, science, and technology performed on a nanoscale level (1 – 100 nanometers). To get an idea of how small a nanometer is, consider that a single newspaper sheet is around 100,000 nanometers in thickness.

What is nanotechnology? 

Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating atoms and molecules, which are impossible to see, even with a typical microscope. To see them, you need a special device known as a scanning tunneling microscope or an atomic force microscope, tools that have only been around for a few decades. Using these devices, scientists can figure out how to manipulate materials at a nanoscale level. Among its many uses, nanotechnology can enhance materials used in machine parts, medical and health care equipment, computer and electronic applications, transportation systems, energy resources, and much more.

Nanotechnology is commonly used in clothing, furniture, and sunscreen. Sunscreen contains nanoparticles — titanium dioxide and zinc oxide — that block UV radiation and make the lotion feel light on your skin. Nanoparticles also protect clothing from rain and make furniture less flammable. Additionally, nanotechnology can help us fight climate change. Using nanotechnology, engineers can produce lighter, more fuel-efficient cars, and build more efficient renewables, such as windmills that can spin faster in less wind, and coatings that can improve batteries. 

Celebrate Nanotechnology Day!

Nanotechnology Day is an annual celebration that aims to spread awareness around nanotechnology used in everyday products that improve our lives. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nanotechnology Day will hold virtual events this year. Check out the list from the National Nanotechnology Initiative. 

Learn how nanotechnology has impacted the design and engineering of many everyday items with the IEEE TryEngineering lesson plan, Nano Waterproofing. Students will learn about the hydrophobic effect and how similar properties can be introduced by reengineering products at the nano level. Download it today!