nano·​struc·​ture ˈna-nə-ˌstrək-chər How to pronounce nanostructure (audio)
: a nanoscale structure
especially : an arrangement, structure, or part of something of molecular dimensions
nanostructured adjective

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Two important types of nanostructure are nanocrystals (tiny crystals, often of semiconducting material) and nanotubes (tiny tubes, usually of pure carbon). Nanocrystals made from semiconductors change color depending on their size, and are being used for such tasks as detecting viruses in living cells. Nanotubes can conduct enormous amounts of electrical current, far more than metal wires. They are the basic material of tiny "paper" batteries, which can be rolled, folded, or cut while still producing power. Nanotubes are also now being used in materials for lightweight tennis rackets and golf clubs, and may soon enable the manufacture of TV screens no thicker than a film.

Examples of nanostructure in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Prior to designing the spiky silicon, researchers studied the structural composition of cicada and dragonfly wings, which have evolved to feature similarly sharp nanostructures capable of skewering fungal spores and bacterial cells. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 27 Mar. 2024 The films, inspired by how morpho butterflies create their vivid blue color with reflective scales, circumvent this with nanostructures that reflect light to produce color without heating up. Cameron Pugh, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Sep. 2023 Moving forward, the team plans to experiment with carbide ceramic coatings in lieu of glass to make potentially even stronger nanostructures. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 26 July 2023 As detailed recently in Cell Reports Physical Science, the team first connected multiple portions of self-assembling DNA to form a nanostructure framework akin to a building’s support beams. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 26 July 2023 These nanostructures use a phenomenon called metasurface optics to direct and focus light. IEEE Spectrum, 21 May 2023 It is composed of two colorless materials: aluminum nanoparticles and aluminum oxide nanostructures. Rupendra Brahambhatt, Ars Technica, 24 May 2023 If, for example, light is polarized along the X axis, the nanostructures of the metasurface will direct the light to one section of the image sensor. IEEE Spectrum, 21 May 2023 While pigments often fade, structural colors do not: As long as the nanostructure remains intact, the same structural color will shine on indefinitely. Tomas Weber, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nanostructure.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1978, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nanostructure was in 1978

Dictionary Entries Near nanostructure

Cite this Entry

“Nanostructure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

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