Nanoelectronics is a promising area of technological study. “Nano” is a measurement of size, specifically a tiny size. One nano is 10 raised to the negative ninth power, which is the same as a billionth. So, a nanometer is a billionth of a meter and a nanosecond is not much time at all. “Nano” as applied to technology has much to do with robotics. It has long been a concept (only recently becoming a reality) to use miniscule robots, known as “nanites,” to do complex tasks on the tiniest scale that require tremendous precision. For example, there are some surgical procedures that require such internal access and such finesse that a human hand cannot attempt them, but what if you could send a robot?
This isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound – perhaps not long from now patients will take a pill, containing nanites. Once inside the body, the nanites can be controlled by artificial intelligence and/or remote control. The surgeons who watch the action on a built-in video camera can use the nanites to take a close look at the troublesome area of the body, and then even perform the surgery right then and there. Unsettling? Yes, but the possibilities for new cures and treatments are astounding. If humankind can send a robot to Mars that still operates years after the expiration date, why can’t it do something significant on the opposite end of the size spectrum?
In nanoelectronics, engineers apply nanotechnology to electronic devices and parts, which usually means tiny components. For instance, the video game system PlayStation 3 uses microprocessors manufactured using nanotechnology, which means they are so small that the system can fit many of them inside its shell, resulting in its impressive performance. However, these components themselves are not on sufficiently small a scale to merit the term “nanoelectronics,” as scientists use that term for transistors that are small enough as to require advanced knowledge of quantum mechanics.