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There are different methods and techniques used in Nanotechnology. Some are considered traditional in scope and were developed for characterizing nanomaterials. One characterizing technique that is used is called particle size distribution. Of the techniques used, particle size distribution is pivotal in determining if the particles are in fact nano-sized or if they are actually just being aggregated in solutions.
Newer methods used in Nanotechnology include light scattering and ultrasound. In light scattering, particles of light are forced to deviate from a straight trajectory. In ultrasound techniques, nano-dispersions and micro-emulsions are tested by ultrasound spectroscopy.
Some traditional techniques were developed for characterizing the surface charge of nanoparticles in solutions. Some methods used to test the surface charge include: micro-electrophoresis, electrophoretic light scattering and electroacoustics. These methods typically produce the same results, but are time consuming.
Although the traditional techniques are still used, there are new developments that are worth the mentioning. The atomic force microscope and scanning tunneling microscope are probes used early on in nanotechnology. The use of these methods enabled scientists to see structures on a nanoscale level. In addition, a couple of different approaches come into play. The top-down theory requires nanodevices that are built in stages, similar to that of an assembly line. The bottom-up approach uses techniques that build larger structures molecule by molecule. Each of those approaches uses independent testing measures.
On the horizon in Nanotechnology are new and emerging techniques. One of these new approaches is dual polarization interferometry, which enables scientists to measure on a nanoscale the molecular interactions that take place. There is still a lot of work to be done in implementing new ways of measuring and conducting nanotechnology. Advances are being made to improve and simplify techniques used that incorporate the traditional methods and introduce new technology for the common goal to move forward.