Thursday, February 16, 2006 overview piece: The rise of nanotechnology

"Nanotechnology began as part of an after-dinner talk in 1959 by the late Richard Feynman, a Nobel laureate in physics, best-selling author and professor at the California Institute of Technology. He described molecular machines that could build with atomic precision.

Nearly two decades later, according to the Foresight Nanotech Institute website, the term “nano-technology” was first used in a scientific paper in 1974, and engineer and author Eric Drexler originated molecular nanotechnology concepts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977.

The scanning-tunneling microscope – which let scientists see details of atomic structures and manipulate the structures – was invented in 1981, the buckyball (pure carbon with a spherical shape and hollow interior) was discovered in 1985, the first university nanotechnology course was offered in 1988, and the carbon nanotube (carbon atoms that form extended hollow tubes) was discovered in 1991."

Read Cheryl Pellerin's complete overview piece on