11 Jun 2016

Nano nano

From This Way Up, 12:40 pm on 11 June 2016
Cobalt-based nanoflowers through electron microscope

Cobalt-based nanoflowers through electron microscope Photo: (Supplied)

In the 1960s the US government started using the prefix nano (from the Greek word for dwarf) to mean 'a billionth', so a nanometre is a billionth of a metre.

It's hard to visualise but apparently fingernails grow one nanometre a second and a human hair is about 100,000 nanometres wide.  You get the picture! A nano-particle is very, very small and can't be seen except through a powerful microscope.

Today you'll find nanomaterials in things like computers, smartphones, golf clubs, clothing, sunscreens and in the future it's hoped nanotechnology will deliver new drugs and therapies for fighting diseases. Dr. Anna Henning of boutiq makes nanomaterials for a living.