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[Opinion] Nano Age

Posted September. 17, 2002 23:04,   


Can you imagine the smallest violin in the world? The one designed by a group of researchers in U.S. Connell University is as small as 0.01mm, which is about the same size of a human red cell. Then what is the size of each string of the violin is? It’s 50nm (nanometer). 1nm equals one billionth of a meter, or is about as one hundred thousandth thin as a human hair. It’s thinner than 1cm (one hundredth of a meter), 1mm (one thousandth of a meter) and 1㎛ (micrometer, one millionth of a meter). 1nm equals one thousandth of a nanometer, that is. With 1nm-sized letters, you can contain the entire volumes of Britannica Encyclopedia on a nailhead.

▷ In ancient Greek, “nanos” means a dwarf. “Nano,” which derived from the Greek word, has become a term that indicates a tiny world that goes beyond our imagination. If the world continues to successfully develop nanotechnology, it will be able to create diamond by disintegrating charcoal. Because diamond is a crystallized form of charcoal, one can create artificial diamond by arranging elements of charcoal in a crystal structure. When nanotechnology is combined with information technology, the humankind will be able to develop a supercomputer of a wristwatch size. In the medical area, scientists will be able to find cures for cancer and AIDS. Some warn, however, that if the technology falls into wrong hands, it could wield “power of the devil” as atomic power has done to the human history.

▷ Scientists say that the we are entering the 21st century nano age passing through the 20th century micro age. Nanotechnology will, indeed, be an engine for industrial revolution in the future. That’s why advanced countries are endeavoring to foster the technology strategically. The U.S. has poured $400 million research and development budget every year into nanotechnology since 2001. Japan plans to inject 24 trillion yen into developing nanotechnology over the next 5 years. China and Australia as well as European countries like Germany are also rushing to develop nanotechnology, which is deemed essential in making things that are thinner, lighter yet larger-capacity.

▷ It is welcoming that this country is seeing a breakthrough in nanotechnology research and development. A team led by Prof. Kim Kwang-soo at Pohang Engineering School unveiled the world’s thinnest copper wire of 0.4nm diameter, while another engineering school successfully producing a nano-scale particle. More recently, Samsung Electronics announced that it has successfully developed 90 nano processing technology. Given a 512-mega DRMA semiconductor circuit is 120nm wide, the 90 nano technology is expected to make a big difference in semiconductor processing, moving a step closer to producing a high-performance supercomputer. This is, however, only a beginning of what is to come in this nano age.

Park Young-kyun, Editorial Writer parkyk@donga.com