|Nano. A popular culture term, a marketing term, and a magical key to unlocking research funding. But what makes something nanotechnology? The answer can depend on your background as much as your intentions. A few things are certain. The field is an interdisciplinary meeting of scientists, engineers, and companies. Diverse backgrounds create a wide range of interpretations, expectations, and conventions. The concepts are similar but the descriptive language can be quite different. Attempting to define nanotechnology provides a great jumping off point to begin to tame the challenge of defining standard terminology for this field. |
I will explore the definition of nanotechnology from the perspective of a MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) engineer working in a group of self-proclaimed nanotechnologists. Starting with our “top down” techniques for device fabrication including nano-imprint lithography, atomic layer deposition, reactive ion etching, and plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition I will introduce our language. This contrasts with synthesis techniques from chemistry or biology known as “bottom up” where molecules or systems are assembled up from the molecular level. I will look for the common ground at a high level and drill down on some topics to illustrate the current state and offer suggestions on how to get the diverse communities into using the same terminology. I will use examples from the ACS Nanotations wiki to highlight how an online community can be used to help develop standard terminology.