10 Ways Nanostructures Are Changing Our World

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by: Joanna Burgess
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A single-walled carbon nanotube is about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair.
©iStockphoto/Tyler Boyes

Nanostructures are all around us but what exactly are they and how are they used? The Greek word "nano" translates as "little man." In metric measurement it means 1 billionth. Nanostructures are between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm) in dimension, larger than a molecule but smaller than a microscopic object. To put it into context, a nanostructure is one hundred thousand times thinner than a human hair [source: Choy].

Nanostructures occur in nature. Scientists are also engineering them at an incredible pace. The study of nanostructures draws people in from disciplines including physics, biology and engineering. From medical applications to clean energy solutions, nanostructures are taking the world of science and technology by storm.

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