Nanotechnology Definition Used Too Broadly
The term ‘nanotechnology’ has been used so abundantly (and often inaccurately) that even Eric Drexler, the researcher who coined the term, believes the word is losing its original meaning.
Nanotech involves the manipulation of matter on atomic and molecular scales. However, it is presently used in reference to micro-scale technology for everything from biotech to space technology.
There is no denying that nanotech has already had a profound impact on the world, but Drexler believes that the next phase of nanotech – atomically precise manufacturing (APM) – will provide “radical abundance” of such significance that industry and civilisation will both be changed.
Drexler explains that while ‘nanotechnology’ was originally defined as APM, as it won widespread and significant funding, the term was used more broadly, sometimes to genuinely mean APM and sometimes to mean conventional materials science.
Drexler cautions against overuse of the word, saying that expecting normal materials science methods to produce APM-level technologies is effectively impossible. He also warns that a number of the most important APM technological developments do not carry the label ‘nanotechnology’.