Great article on the definition of nanotechnology over at Nanowerk. It starts like this:
Ask 10 people what nanotechnology is and you will get 10 different answers.
Trying to define nanotechnology is like the famous tale of the blind men and the elephant: Six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe. It’s the same with nanotechnology â€“ it is different things to different people.
And then there are all these terms floating around: ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ fabrication, ‘atomically precise manufacturing’, ‘molecular assembly’, ‘self-assembly’, ‘nanorobots’, ‘nanofactories’ and so forth. Try describing nanotechnology as a top-down fabrication process and the folks over at Foresight and CRN will tell you what a short-sighted wuss you are. Try describing nanotechnology the Drexlerian way as a bottom-up molecular assembly technology and some scientists will tell you that you are smoking too much of the good stuff.
Another good original article from Nanowerk is “Nanotechnology manufacturing key to industrialized countries’ future competitiveness”.