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Manipulation of atoms, molecules, and materials to form structures on the scale of nanometres (billionths of a metre). These nanostructures typically exhibit new properties or behaviours due to quantum mechanics. In 1959 Richard Feynman first pointed out some potential quantum benefits of miniaturization. A major advancement was the invention of molecular-beam epitaxy by Alfred Cho and John Arthur at Bell Laboratories in 1968 and its development in the 1970s, which enabled the controlled deposition of single atomic layers. Scientists have made some progress at building devices, including computer components, at nanoscales. Faster progress has occurred in the incorporation of nanomaterials in other products, such as stain-resistant coatings for clothes and invisible sunscreens.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on nanotechnology, visit Britannica.com.