In the first part of my attempt to define nanotechnology terms, I discussed definitions of the nanoscale. Now I come to the important and underappreciated distinction between nanoscience and nanotechnology.
Nanoscience describes the convergence of physics, chemistry, materials science and biology to deal with the manipulation and characterisation of matter on the nanoscale.
Many subfields of these disciplines have been dealing with nanoscale phenomena for many years. A very non-exhaustive list of relevant sub-fields, with examples of topics in nanoscience, would include:
The distinguishing feature of nanoscience is that increasingly we find methods and techniques from more than one of these existing subfields combined in novel ways.
Nanotechnology is an engineering discipline which combines methods from nanoscience with the disciplines of economics and the market to create usable and economically viable products.
Nanoscience and nanotechnology need to be distinguished. Without nanoscience, nanotechnology will not be possible. On the other hand, if you invest money in a nanoscience venture under the impression that it is nanotechnology, you are sure to be disappointed.
In the next installment, I’ll discuss the various kinds of nanotechnology, from incremental technologies such as shampoos and textile treatments to the more radical visions.