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Nanotechnology revolution

Life and Matter Sciences

Nature Papers February 2010

Authors:

Peter Rodgers
Mauro Ferrari
Eugenio Coronado
Andreas Berger
Teresa Fernandes

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Synopsis

The origin of nanotechnology can be established as having occurred approximately two decades ago, when IBM investigators began to work on and develop their activity around this innovative concept. But ten years before that, the invention of the scanning tunnel microscope in Switzerland was already a milestone in this field. We owe the first formulation of the concept of nanoscience and nanotechnology to the German physicist Richard Feynman, who in 1959 proposed the idea of manufacturing products based on the reordering of atoms and molecules, giving rise to harder, tougher and faster new materials. And going even further back in history, deep into the roots of the past, it was discovered that the blades of some swords used in Damascus in the 17th century bore nanotubular particles and that, in the Middle Ages, glass windows of some cathedrals were stained with potent blue colours that contained tiny gold particles. It should also be mentioned that even further back in time, some 4,000 years ago, nanoparticles were used to work lead.

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