Nano might be really small, but the consequences might not be

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If you’re really old school and print this article on a piece of paper, the paper would typically be around 100,000 nanometres thick. This is still too much to be defined as nano, however. To meet that description, most of the particles in a material need to be between 1 and 100 nanometres in any dimension. In other words, it’s very small.

What makes nano interesting, promising and worrying at the same time is the fact that nano-size particles can have very different properties from the same material when it’s made of larger particles.

The material may be made of the same chemicals and the same molecules, but the small particle size increases the surface area, which can result in special properties. The properties may also vary depending on the shape or form. Some are just irregular shapes, while others have specific forms, such as tubes or balls.

Nano-particles can be manmade (engineered) or formed by nature or by accident. Smoke, for example, contains nano-particles, and an example of nano pollution is the release of tungsten nano-particles from tire studs.



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