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. Nanotechnology entails the application of fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, microfabrication, etc.
Scientists debate the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted.
The most scientifically sophisticated building ever constructed at the University of Waterloo, this one-of-a-kind centre will facilitate transformational research with applications spanning computing, communications, medicine and beyond. Shared by the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN), this building provides our researchers with the tools and opportunities to unlock the amazing power of quantum information science and the boundless potential of nanotechnology. The groundbreaking discoveries that happen here will continue Waterloo’s long tradition of research excellence and innovation through the 21st century.