Do you remember the first time you encountered the idea that while the universe could be infinitely large, its basic building blocks are actually very small? These building blocks, the atoms and molecules comprising all matter, in effect make up the world of nanoscience. The basic fodder for nanotechnology, throughout our world's history, has always been at play. As described by Wilson et al. (2002), the alkali and the alkaline earth metals (Groups 1 and 2 from the Periodic Table of Elements), as well as the transition metals (Groups 3 to 12), due to their various electrical properties, make good providers of electrons, and good conductors, respectively, useful in nanotechnology. Further, carbon and silicon from Group 14 are important base materials for many nanomaterials. In other words, these atoms and various simple molecular combinations of these, not only are the building blocks of nanotechnology, but also of our world. Our understanding of this reality has developed relatively recently through the development of tools, in particular those that allow us to see (scanning probe and atomic force microscopes) and engage (lithography and masks enabling building up through deposits or chiseling away of various surfaces). Facilitated by the inert noble gases such as xenon and radon (Wilson et al., 2002), this has allowed humans to witness, and lately attempt to play with, the ongoing miracle of the composition and dynamics of matter operating at the nanoscale.
|Title of host publication
|Nanotechnology and Development: What's in It for Emerging Countries?
|Place of Publication
|Cambridge University Press
|Published - 1 Jan 2015