A visual representation of a ten nanometers (nm). A protein is usually around 10nm long.


According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, Nanotechnology (Nanotech) is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers (NNI). To put this into perspective, there are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch and if a marble were the size of a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth. Nanotechnology can be used in various fields such as physics, chemistry, and biology. Nanomaterials are similar in size to biological molecules and/or structures, which is why they can and are used in the medical field (i.e., nanomedicine).


In regards to the medical field, the following will list diseases that are treated via nanomedicine:

Appetite Control:

Megace® ES is designed to trigger an appetite for patients diagnosed with anorexia, cachexia, or other unexplained weight loss. This is possible through the development of Nanocrystal particles, which are small particles of a drug substance.


There are drugs that treat various types of cancer through Nanocrystals. Abraxane™ is an anti-cancer drugs that is used to treat advanced forms of breast cancer. Doxil® is an anti-cancer drug that is used to treat ovarian cancer and kaposi sarcoma. Emend® is a anti-nausea drug for chemotherapy patients.


TriCor® is used to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

Bone Replacement:

Zirconium Oxide is a “commercial nano-sized zirconium oxide…for dental applications including fillings and prosthetic devices.” Nano-sized zirconium oxide is ideal for dental applications because of its strength and transparency to light, but it is opaque to x-rays, making it an excellent material for UV-cured dental fillings.

Web Resources:

National Nanotechnology Initiative

Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

The Scale of the Universe 2

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies

Related Terminology:

  • Nanomedicine - Medical application of nanotechnology.
  • Molecular Engineering - Any means of manufacturing molecules or creating new manufacturing materials using them.
  • Drug - A chemical substance that has known biological effects on humans or other animals.


"Nanotechnology." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.

"Nanomedicine." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.

"What Is Nanotechnology?" National Nanotechnology Initiative.

"What Is Nanotechnology?" Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

"Nanotechnology Project." PEN News. The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.


Visualizations showing the size of nano entities relative to typical objects.

nanotechnology_size_of _things.png