Nanotechnology, through the control of atoms and molecules, has the potential to create unique materials with wide-ranging applicability including the areas of medicine, smaller (faster) devices, self-assembled structures, and other designer materials applications. Nano materials are also allowing scientists to explore still unanswered fundamental materials questions. The field of nanotechnology is generally accepted to have been identified by Nobel laureate Richard Feynman during a futuristic talk entitled, "There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom," in 1959. In that presentation, Feynman speculated about being able to write the entirety of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the head of the pin. On September 28, 1989, an IBM physicist, Don Eigler, became the first person to manipulate and position individual atoms. One example of his work is shown in the figure below utilizing 35 xenon atoms.
In the next section, we will look at how carbon nanotubes might allow for faster transistors in the future.