nano·​tech·​nol·​o·​gy ˌna-nō-tek-ˈnä-lə-jē How to pronounce nanotechnology (audio)
: the manipulation of materials on an atomic or molecular scale especially to build microscopic devices (such as robots)
Placing atoms as though they were bricks, nanotechnology will give us complete control over the structure of matter, allowing us to build any substance or structure permitted by the laws of nature.Science News
Once the province of science fiction, nanotechnology, the science of assembling materials one atom at a time, is now the rage among Silicon Valley investors.Karen Breslau
nanotechnological adjective
nanotechnologist noun

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Nanotechnology, or nanotech for short, deals with matter at a level that most of us find hard to imagine, since it involves objects with dimensions of 100 billionths of a meter (1/800th of the thickness of a human hair) or less. The chemical and physical properties of materials often change greatly at this scale. Nanotechnology is already being used in automobile tires, land-mine detectors, and computer disk drives. Nanomedicine is a particularly exciting field: Imagine particles the size of a blood cell that could be released into the bloodstream to form into tiny robots and attack cancer cells, or "machines" the size of a molecule that could actually repair the damaged interiors of individual cells.

Examples of nanotechnology in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Galactic patience required All of this needs to be evaluated against potentially more pressing challenges on Earth, such as climate change, pandemics, global poverty, and dangers posed by advanced technology like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. George Dvorsky / Gizmodo, Quartz, 7 Mar. 2024 The Institution's current state-of-the-art nanotechnology lab is appropriately located right across from Faraday's laboratory in the basement. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 26 Dec. 2023 Before taking over the neuroscience beat, Stix, as Scientific American's special projects editor, oversaw the magazine's annual single-topic special issues, conceiving of and producing issues on Einstein, Darwin, climate change, nanotechnology and the nature of time. Gary Stix, Scientific American, 17 Nov. 2023 The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to three scientists for their fundamental discoveries in nanotechnology — particles once considered impossibly small to make, with applications in television screens and LED lamps. Adela Suliman, Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2023 Molecular motion has traditionally been an impediment in engineering on a nanoscale, but recent developments in nanotechnology have also allowed scientists to use this phenomenon to their advantage. IEEE Spectrum, 27 Oct. 2023 Among other things, advances in nanotechnology enabled old mRNA research to become useful in new applications. Aaron R. Hanlon, The New Republic, 23 Oct. 2023 The company is using a mix of technologies that include adsorption and a patented nanotechnology membrane that can almost instantly separate lithium. Which technology for DLE will win is still unclear. IEEE Spectrum, 31 Oct. 2023 Size matters in the nanoscale Quantum dots are among the smallest components of nanotechnology. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 4 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nanotechnology.' 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

1974, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nanotechnology was in 1974

Dictionary Entries Near nanotechnology

Cite this Entry

“Nanotechnology.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the art of using and controlling materials on an atomic or molecular scale especially in order to create microscopic devices

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