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Nanotechnology: Simple to Complex

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 7/23/2008

Understanding how nanotechnology works can be partially explained by understanding the different methods used and how they are applied.

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    When trying to fully understand the theory of nanotechnology, it helps to grasp the idea of analyzing it from the ground up. In order to visualize how it all works, it is crucial to understand a few basic theories and concepts.

    Molecular self-assembly is an approach used to understand how molecules can somehow arrange themselves systematically into a conformation through the bottom-up idea. The reason this is an important perspective is because molecules can be designed so that a specific conformation is favored due to non-covalent forces. In theory, two or more components can be designed to be complementary and mutually attractive, making them more useful as whole, rather than as separately occurring parts.

    What does this mean for the scientific community or the general public? These approaches should be able to produce devices much more affordably than top-down methods. But consequently, could be potentially overwhelmed as the size and complexity of the desired assemblies increases. This can occur when certain structures need different and more complicated processing . One of the great challenges in Nanotechnology is whether it is probable or not these approaches can be used to engineer novel constructs as well as natural constructs. There is still a lot of research and modality testing to be conducted to get critics and those leery to embrace the idea.

    There have been many advances in the principle of simple to complex methods; in synthetic chemistry it is possible to prepare small molecules to virtually any structure. These methods are used to produce many useful chemicals that can be used to make pharmacy grade products and commercial polymers. By embracing this theory, it raises the question of how far this kind of control can be extended. It is the goal to employ more methods to assemble single molecules into super molecular assemblies that consist of many molecules arranged in a well-defined manner.