The term nano-technology describes the production, study and application of structures, molecular materials, inner inter- and surfaces with at least one critical dimension or with production tolerances below 100 nanometers. What matters is that new functionalities and properties for improvement of existing or development of new products and options for applications solely could result out of the nano-scale property of the system components. These new effects and capabilities are founded in the relationship of surface- to volumeatoms and in the quantum mechanical attitude of matter modules.
One nanometer (Nm) denotes a millionth part of one millimeter, which is comparable with the length of a chain out of 5 to 10 atoms. In comparison to this the cross-section of a human hair is 50.000 times bigger. However, an atom or molecule does not yet have such familiar characteristics as electric conductivity, magnetism, colour, mechanical hardness or a certain melting point. Materials in size of a dust grain on the contrary do already possess all above mentioned physical properties and do not differ in this regard from an object weighing tons out of steal.
Nanotechnology happens in the transition between atoms or molecules on the one side and bigger solid objects on the other side. Phenomenons do occure in this intermediate area, which can not be observed in macroscopic objects. The linked perspective of the size of structure and function makes it difficult to state a correct definition of what belongs to nano-technology.
The development of the scanning tunneling miscroscope in 1981 has been a milestone in the origination process of nano-technology. This was the first time to have a direct approach to the atomic world. Nowadays nano-technology involves quite more than the usage of atomically resolved microscopes. Some of the nano-materials with innovative, technically valuable properties can already be produced commercially by means of diverse procedures. Surfaces can be adapted precisely to the nano-scale and complex structures sized a few nanometers can be produced self-organized in isolated cases.