7.2.1 What is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is a very general term. Currently, there is no definition of the term "nanotechnology" that is generally accepted. This makes it quite challenging to predict "the world market" for products produced by nanotechnology or products with functional components in the nanometre range or products working with a precision in the nanometre range.
However, if the geometry size in at least one dimension is reduced to a critical value below 100 nanometers, most fundamental physical properties, depending on the material, change. Each property has a critical length scale, and with a nanoscale building block being made smaller than the critical length scale, it is possible to control the property's internal and surface chemistry, their atomic structure and their assembly. It is further possible to engineer properties and functionalities in completely new ways. Fine adjustment is possible by altering the sizes of those nano building blocks.
Therefore, in the following the term nanotechnology product refers to this definition:
1. Products with a functional component with controlled geometry size below 100 nanometres in at least one dimension, and innovative characteristics caused by this critical dimension.
2. Equipment for analytical or manipulatory purposes that allows controlled fabrication, movement or measurement resolution with a precision below 100 nanometres.
Obviously, only in few cases does such a product consist of nanoscale building blocks alone, without any macroscopic element. Since the value of the nanotechnology contribution to such a product is difficult to estimate, it is only possible to consider the market price value of the end product. This clearly has implications for the determination of the overall market size.
Therefore, we define the smallest unit that can be commercially sold in the marketplace as a "nanotechnology product". Consequently, the market figures in this study are based on the market price of the smallest commercially available units with functional nanotechnology components.
Characteristics of Nanomaterials
Nanotechnology is fundamentally changing the way materials and devices will be produced in the future. The ability to synthesise nanoscale building blocks with precisely controlled size and composition and then to assemble them into larger structures with unique properties and functions will revolutionise segments of the materials manufacturing industry,. Fig. 1 illustrates nanomaterials and nanostructures by their reduced dimensionality.
What is nanomedicine?
Nanomedicine is defined as the process of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness and traumatic injuries, the decrease of pain, as well as the preservation and improvement of the human health by molecular tools and molecular knowledge about the human body. The approaches to nanomedicine range from the medical use of nanomaterials, to nanoelectronic biosensors, and even possible future applications of molecular nanotechnology. Current problems for nanomedicine involve understanding the issues related to toxicity and environmental impact of nanoscale materials.
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