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The History of Nanotechnology

The History of Nanotechnology


The history of nanotechnology is dotted with a certain amount of skepticism. Some people hold firmly that this is a brand new form of scientific evolution that did not develop until the late 1980s or early 1990s.

Others have found evidence that the history of nanotechnology can be traced back to the year 1959.

Either way, as scientific development goes, nanotechnology is still a relatively fresh and new arena of scientific research.

Still other scientists hold the belief that humans have employed practical nanotechnological methods for thousands of years, perhaps even longer.


Nanotechnology is the development of progress, as many like to put it, and progress has included the vulcanization of rubber and the introduction of steel into society. These advancements count in the history of nanotechnology according to many well known scientific experts.

Perhaps it might be safer to acknowledge that the basics of the history of nanotechnology have been implemented for thousands of years or longer, but we as a scientific society did not put a name to it until somewhere in the mid 60s.

In order to accurately document the history of nanotechnology, one could argue that it began when we developed the ability to determine particle size, which is indicated to be around the turn of the 20th century.

It was during this time that particle size became a constant factor in scientific exploration. These measurements were recorded at smaller than 10nm, which in lay terms translates roughly into less than microscopic.

The nanometer came on the scene before the onset of the 1960s. The nanometer, for many, is the beginning of the history of nanotechnology. After all, once it could be measured, it would be considered to be an acceptable frame of reference, right? Almost..

The mid 19 teens produced the ability to recognize particles via the use of an ultramicroscope that could detect particles as small as 1/1 millionth of a millimeter. This is a particle smaller than most lay people can not truly visualize accurately. Thus, there are yet even more critics that state the history of nanotechnology actually began in the mid 19 teens when the documented case took place.

Of course, the term itself comes with history. The word assigned to this type of scientific advancement is known to have come from a paper that was released in 1974 written from the Tokyo Science University. There, a student coined the term “nanotechnology” in his paper and the name stuck firmly from then on. This is one area of this science’s history that is not readily disputed, or disputable.

During this time, nanotechnology truly flourished, and as early as 1974 there were numerous break throughs that led scientists to continue to develop this science with fervor. Discoveries such as the famous Finns’ process of atomic layering helped to put nanotechnology on the map when it came to being recognized by the rest of the scientific community.

The idea that one could actually in some sense “touch” atoms and molecules came about in the 1980s, when famous nanotechnological scientists backed up the theory proposed by Dr. K. Eric Drexler, who was responsible for the eventual ability to manipulate atoms and molecules.

This was rather controversial at the time as the mishandling of molecules and atoms were feared should the any scientists with deadly intentions get their hands on the process. The fear was well founded, as molecular manipulation would have certainly been a way to sabotage just about anything, including humane structuring of the natural world.

The 1980s and early 1990s saw a significant increase in the popularity of nanotechnology. This is the science that can figure out how to power our lives with nothing more than molecules and atoms. This is the science where advancements are always happening and being tested.

It won’t be long before we look to nano—scientists to attempt to fix some of the world’s larger social problems with the implementation of technology and progress.

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