In this Chapter:
Where less is more
A Nano Toolbox
Where less is more
Tiny dimensions, great expectations. That’s nanoscience in a nutshell. Its underlying principle is a revolution in the way we view matter itself. Rather than working with existing materials, nanoscientists aim to create novel materials and structures from the bottom up, out of the tiniest building blocks available - atom by atom, molecule by molecule. Hence the prefix “nano,” (from the Greek for dwarf), which means one millionth of a millimeter or roughly one hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair.
Envsioned application lists, whether offered by starry-eyed futurists or old-school conservatives, sketch a remarkably altered world. Nanoscience, they predict, might touch nearly every area of human existence. Given the ability to control matter at the atomic and molecular scales, we might create nanoscopic drug delivery systems or achieve a far greener environment born of solar energy triumphs and streamlined production lines. Our workplaces might be revolutionized by superfast computers operating on the extraordinary principles of quantum physics, while feather-light yet highly durable materials transform our material landscape - ushering in unsurpassed bridges, skyscrapers and jetliners.
Nanoscience, they predict, might touch nearly every area of human existence.
The challenge, however, is significant, and nanoscience has a long way to go before it will shape daily life. To build nanoscopic structures one must be able not only to see but also to manipulate atoms individually, developing minuscule roboarms able to pick up and deposit these tiny building blocks according to design.
Nevertheless, confidence in nanoscale science runs high, with many regarding it as the most important scientific frontier of the twenty-first century. Worldwide investment in this field has increased roughly fivefold in as many years and experts predict that annual nanotech production will exceed $1 trillion by 2015.
Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science are carving important advances in this field, working on novel tools or strategies with which to manipulate matter on the nano scale, designing new materials, and probing new ideas for tomorrow’s electronics, medicine and more.
The Institute is optimally poised to make important contributions at this frontier, bringing together top-ranking researchers in an interdisciplinary setting that is highly conducive to the pursuit of nanoscience - where the study of structures far smaller than the human cell demands the expertise and resources of different fields, from materials and computer science, to chemistry and physics and bioengineering.
Here’s a look into a tiny world with huge potential...