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Airdate: Jun 06, 2016
Scientist: Deborah Berhanu

Nanotech - Think Thin

Nanotech - Think Thin
Is that a pen in your shirt pocket or the latest smartphone?

Transcript:
Nanotech Think Thin

It may look like a plastic cylinder clipped to a shirt pocket, sort of like a fountain pen, but unroll the cylinder and it's a smart phone. What makes it possible is nanotechnology, where the special properties of nanoparticles will shape the technology of the future. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet

Berhanu: Nanoparticles are generally defined as particles that have at least one dimension between one and hundred nanometers.

Deborah Berhanu is an assistant professor at the City University of New York in Kingsborough Community College.

Berhanu: If you take the ruler, the smallest metric units you would see are the millimeters, which is approximately that the thickness of a dime. If you divide 1 mm in 10,000 equal spaces, you will get to the upper limit of the nanoparticle. So a 10,000th of the thickness of the dime is a hundred nanometers.

Berhanu: Nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials in that scale. So we have to zoom in and see how very small grains of a material behave, and they behave in a very different way compared to the same material with bigger grain sizes. By reducing the grain size, we can make very small electronic components that can then be used to reduce the size of our daily electronics to even smaller. I will have a smartphone that is so thin that I will be able to roll it into a cylinder and then unroll it again.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology and the National Science Foundation.