Hello Physics World

with A Few 10 to -9 Milestones

3.5 bilion years ago the first living cells emerge. Cells house nanoscale biomachines that perform such tasks as manipulating genetic material and supplying energy.

400 B.C. Democritus coins the word “atom”, which means “not cleavable” in ancient Greek.

1905 Albert Enstein publishes a paper that estimates the diameter of a sugar moleculeas about one diameter.

1931 Max Knoll and Ernts Ruska develop the electron microscope, which enables subnanometer imaging.

1959 Richard Feynman gives his famed talk “There’s Plenty of Room at the bottom,” on the prodpects for miniaturization.

1968 Alfred Y. Cho and John Arthur of Bell Laboraties and their colleagues invent molecular-beam epitaxy, a technique that can deposit sinle atomic layers on a surface.

1974 Norio Taniguchi conceives the word “nanotechnology” to signify machining with tolerances of less than a micron.

1981 Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer create the scanning tunnelling microscope, which can image individual atoms.

1985 Robert F. Curl, Jr., Harold W. Kroto and Richard E. Smalley discover buckminsterfullerenes, also known as buckyballs, which measure about a nanometer in diameter.

1986 K. Eric Drexler publishes Engines of Creation, a futuristic book that popularizes nanotechnology.

1989 Donald M. Eigler of IBM writes the letters of his company’s name using individual xenon atoms.

1991 Sumio Iijima of NEC in Tsukuba, Japan, discovers carbon nanotubes.

1993 Warren Robinett of the university of North Carolina and R. Stanley Williams of the University of CAliforniaat Los Angeles devise a virtual-reality system connected to a scanning tunneling microscope that lets the user see and touch atoms.

1998 Cees Dekker’s group at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands creates a transistor from a carbon nanotube.

1999 James M. Tour, now at Rice University, and Mark A. Rees of the Yale University demonstrate that single molecules can act as molecular switches.

2000 The Clinton administration announces the National Nanotechnlogy Initiative, which provides a big boost in funding and gives the field greater visibility.

2000 Eigler and other researchers devise a quantum mirage. Placing a magnetic atom at one focus of an elliptical ring of atoms creates a mirage of the same atom at another focus, a possible means of transmitting information without wires.

(Source: Understanding Nanotechnology,from the editors of Scientific American,2002)