Human and Natural Environment Effects of Nanomaterials

Authored by: Birgit Gaiser , Martin J. D. Clift , Helinor J. Johnston , Matthew S. P. Boyles , Teresa F. Fernandes

Handbook of Nanophysics

Print publication date:  September  2010
Online publication date:  September  2010

Print ISBN: 9781420075465
eBook ISBN: 9781420075496
Adobe ISBN:


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Nanotechnology can be defined as the manipulation, precision placement, measurement, modeling, or manufacture of materials at the nanometer (nm) scale (Donaldson et al. 2001). The field of nanotechnology is anticipated to provide lighter, stronger, smaller, and more efficient and durable products such as stain-free clothing, as well as exploitation for environmental remediation (Reijnders 2006). The attraction of producing and exploiting nanomaterials is a consequence of the fact that the properties of nano-sized materials are expected (and have also been demonstrated) to be strikingly different from bulk forms of the same material (Service 2004). To put the size of nanomaterials into perspective, 1 nm, or 1 billionth of a meter (10−9), is the diameter of 10 hydrogen atoms, 4 nm is the size of a single protein molecule, 1000 nm is equal to the size of a pollen grain, and 100,000 nm can be equated to the average width of one human hair (Whitesides 2003). It is recognized that the definition of a “nanomaterial” (NM), defined as “a material that has one or more external dimensions in the nanoscale, or which is nanostructured” (nanomaterials can exhibit properties that differ from those of the same material that do not have nanoscale features) (BSI 2007, SCENIHR 2007b, ISO 2008), is different from a “nanoparticle” (NP) defined as a material with three external dimensions in the nanoscale) (BSI 2007, SCENIHR 2007b).

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