Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to 'nanotech') is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology works with materials, devices, and other structures with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres. Quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale. With a variety of potential applications, nanotechnology is a key technology for the future and governments have invested billions of dollars in its research. Through its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the USA has invested 3.7 billion dollars. The European Union has invested 1.2 billion and Japan 750 million dollars. Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to direct control of matter on the atomic scale.
Contributions by Passw0rd, Fuelbottle, and Altenmann.