Nanotechnology is the manufacturing and use of nanoscale devices, that is, the manufacture of devices measured in nanometers - billionths of a meter - and constructed atom by atom and molecule by molecule. Some definitions hold that anything in which the key components measure under 100 nanometers is a nanotechnology (Future, 16). By this definition, modern electronics has already become nanotechnology.
The manufacturing of nanotechnology takes place on many different levels in many different ways. For example, "Moore's law states that circuit density will double every 18 months" (Tucker, 35). However, there is a limit to the size we can build transistors with conventional techniques. Nanotechnology could, by building structures atom by atom, conceivably create circuit features 15nm in size (current average size is about 90nm) (Tucker). However, at the present time these methods are not cost effective - although "This cost barrier is likely to be reached within the next ten years" (Tucker).
Many nanotechnologies are already being developed or designed, two of which I'll talk about here.
For years, scientists have tried to create a super hydrophobic - meaning something that repels water completely - material which exhibits the so-called "lotus effect," in which water cannot attach to the surface and in fact bounces off and carries impurities with it. The effect is called the lotus effect because the petals and leaves of the lotus exhibit such an effect (Goho, 278). Recently, scientists were able to create a super hydrophobic, self-cleaning surface by growing carbon nanotubes (tubes of carbon with walls one atom thick, which exhibit incredible tensile strength, and can be conductors or semiconductors) on islands of nickel on top of a silicon surface. These pillars, of an in uniform length, were then coated with polytetrafluoroethylene, or Teflon, to further increase water resistance. The nanotubes are so small and so close together that they hold up water droplets because of the water's surface tension. Uses of this material could include antifouling paint, self-cleaning clothing, and keeping ice from building up on airplane wings (Goho).
Another interesting nanomaterial is the self-assembling DNA motor. This structure assembles itself from a vial of proteins, sugars, and DNA/RNA fragments. Its is a nanoscopic two-fingered 'claw' or 'tweezers'...