Understanding NSF Research: Nanoscience
Nanoscience is the study of extremely small things – imagine arranging atoms one by one or working with wires just 10 to 100 atoms wide that buzz with data. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. Specialized microscopes offer a glimpse into this tiny realm and lasers the means to fabricate and manipulate nanoscale elements. Advances in nanoscience are making it possible to create innovations such as ultra-small camera lenses, toxin-hungry nanosponges, and advanced drug therapies. Nanoscience can be applied across all the science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.
NSF was the first federal agency to fund nanoscience and engineering projects. Through continued investment NSF supports nano-oriented centers and networks across the country as they discover the fundamental mechanisms driving activity at extremely tiny dimensions. This research promises a better understanding of nature, the development of novel products, improved efficiency in manufacturing, sustainable development and better healthcare. NSF also serves as the focal point for helping coordinate U.S. nanotechnology policy.
Accelerating drug pipeline
Nanosensors able to discern drug-induced physical and chemical changes on a cell's surface allow for more rapid screening of drug compounds, identifying effective new drug components in minutes rather than months.
Increasing communications capacity
By embedding lasers a few nanometers in silicon, developers can fabricate nanoscale photonic circuits for ultra-small devices that harness light. These devices offer the possibility of transmitting data at speeds and capacities unattainable with electronics.
Nano-engineered materials make superior household products such as stain removers, specialized paints and air filters. Incorporating nanoscale materials into clothing offers the possibility of "smart fabrics" with flexible sensors to monitor everything from health to energy use. Cars, trucks and boats made of lightweight nanomaterials could lead to significant fuel savings.
|NSF Nanoscience News