Nanotechnology can be described as the identification and development of materials with specific properties on the nano scale (less than 100 nanometers). These materials then are produced as scaled-up bulk materials or are integrated into existing or new products in which the sought properties remain on the macro scale.

Nanotechnology has been and remains a basic science problem of identifying new and useful nanoscale properties. However, during the last two decades, some basic concepts and research has been developed into industrial and other commercial applications. Examples of industrial uses for nanotechnology from the U.S. Department of Energy are:
  • Conductors for heat dissipation in electronics, or heat capture and conversion for energy-efficiency improvement.
  • Coatings and binders for improving the strength- and wear-resistance in engine parts or breaks in automotive applications.
  • Conductors (liquids and solids) and insulators for low weight, high energy-density batteries or hydrogen fuel cell applications.
  • Selective, adaptive bonding materials for use in packaging.
  • Inks and display technology for electronics.
  • High strength, low weight structural materials for wind power components.
With nanotechnology’s commercial applications come related health, environmental and regulatory concerns. Due to their extremely small size, nanomaterials have a propensity to migrate from their original application. There are concerns about ingesting or absorbing these materials as well as what effect they will have on plant and animal life, and several regulatory and accreditation schemes are being developed to address them.