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Nano is an interactive exhibition that engages family audiences in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. Its hands-on exhibits present the basics of nanoscience and engineering, introduce some real world applications, explore the societal and ethical implications of this new technology.
Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology (or “nano,” for short) is a relatively new, interdisciplinary field of research. Just within the past couple of decades, scientists have developed methods and tools that allow them to explore some of the most fundamental aspects of our natural world, and to develop new materials and technologies. Some experts think that nanotechnology may transform our lives, similar to the way that the automobile and personal computer changed how we live and work.
The great potential of nano comes from its tiny size. Nano research and development happens at the scale of atoms and molecules. Some things have different properties at the nanoscale, which allows scientists and engineers to create new materials and devices.
Nanotechnology isn’t just in the lab—we can already find examples in our homes, stores, and hospitals. In the next 10 years or so, nanotechnology will become even more present in our lives. We’ll find it in everyday products like computers, food, cosmetics, and clothing. Nanotechnology might also be part of solutions to big problems, helping address needs such as clean energy, pure water, and cancer treatments.
It’s important for everyone to be informed about nanotechnology, because it will be a significant part of our future. Like all technologies, any given nanotechnology has costs, risks, and benefits. Since nanotechnologies are still developing, we can influence what they are and how they’re used. We all have a role in determining how these new technologies will play out in our future.
Nano is a large and exciting field of study and there’s a lot to know. Learning more about nano will help us understand our natural world, the process of science and engineering, and the ways that society and technology are interconnected.
Nano was created by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Network) with support from the National Science Foundation and is on loan to us from Gateway to Science.