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Nanotechnology is a significant buzz-word in the realms of science and technologies right now, and the trend looks set to grow exponentially. All of a sudden, nanotech is anywhere, from computer chips to bike frames. But a lot of laymen are unaware of exactly what the term really refers to. The Wikipedia definition of 'Nanotechnology' sums it up as follows: Nanotechnology is any technology which exploits phenomena and structures that can only occur at the nanometer scale, that's the scale of several atoms and smaller molecules. The United States' National Nanotechnology Initiative website defines it as follows: "Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications." Common misconceptions of nanotech often stem from situations in science fiction stories. Arguably the best known is Eric Drexler's 'grey goo' situation, in which autonomous self-replicating nanobots run amok, converting all matter into copies of these in an exponential chain reaction. This worst-case scenario has mostly been debunked by experts in the area, though it is accepted that it might result from a deliberately-created Doomsday device. 'Grey goo' is a misinformed extrapolation of this 'universal constructor' posited by the mathematician John von Neumann. So what is nanotechnology actually doing in the world beyond fiction? Developments in the nanoscale are revolutionising many spheres of science and technology in a variety of ways. Most widespread is probably its penetration into materials science. The increasingly ubiquitous 'carbon nanotube' is bringing the twin advantages of great power combined with low mass to many different programs from the...