Chemistry: Matter and Change

Chapter 4: The Structure of the Atom




It is almost dinnertime and your family decides they want to eat a pepperoni pizza. You tell your kitchen oven computer that you want a pepperoni pizza, then a list of the ingredients appears on the screen. Perhaps you decide to add mushrooms, so you type in mushrooms, then hit enter. Ten minutes later, a bell rings, and the oven computer announces that dinner is ready. You take the hot pepperoni pizza out of the oven and serve it to your family. Is there anything strange about this scene? Where did the ingredients for the pizza come from? If scientists studying nanotechnology are correct, in the near future our food will be created out of atoms and molecules instead of being cultivated on farms. Once we know the molecular structure of pepperoni pizza, we can use available atoms and molecules to build a pizza whenever we want. Nanotechnology is another name for molecular manufacturing - the science in which things are built one atom or molecule at a time. Nanotechnology proposes the construction of molecular devices that will have the ability to manipulate atoms individually and place them exactly where needed to produce the desired result. Scientists and researchers say this ability is almost here!



Your job in this WebQuest is to explore the world of nanotechnology. You will learn exactly how big a nanometer is, and why nanotechnology is named for a nanometer. You will find out what a nanobot is, and what materials it may be made out of. You will learn why scientists think that nanotechnology will cause a revolution in the manufacturing and medical fields. You will also discover the applications that scientists envision for nanotechnology. Finally you will answer a set of questions to demonstrate what you have learned about nanotechnology in your exploration.



Look at the web sites given here to find the information that will enable you to answer questions about nanotechnology.

  • Nanotechnology.Visit this site for a brief introduction to the core concepts of molecular nanotechnology. This site explains how atoms and molecules can be put together to create products on a tiny scale.
  • What is Nanotechnology?Go to this site to learn more about how novel molecular devices will be able to place atoms and molecules exactly where needed to produce the desired structure. This site also lists the technical processes that nanotechnology could improve.
  • The Institute of Nanotechnology. At this site you can learn all about nanotechnology and its future applications. Go to features and click on what is nanotechnology to learn more about the activities at the atom level.
  • An Overview of Nanotechnology. "This site focuses on the science behind the emerging technologies" according to its author. Scroll down to Topics in Nanotechnology for a closer look at the different aspects of nanotechnology, from FAQs to manufacturing.
  • Nanotechnology Database. World Technology Evaluation Center assesses technology. You may be interested in the link to Reports Online or Projects In Progress.



1 class period for research and answering the set of questions



Read through the following set of questions before you begin your Internet research. As you explore each site, look for answers to the questions.

Questions about Exploring Nanotechnology

  1. How big is a nanometer?
  2. What is the primary goal of early nanotechnology?
  3. What is a nanobot? What materials could a nanobot be made out of?
  4. How would a nanobot manipulate atoms and molecules?
  5. Make a list of ten items that nanotechnology could improve upon.



In the process of completing this WebQuest, you’ve become informed about a new technology called nanotechnology and about its possible uses. You have learned that nanotechnology may result in improvements in manufacturing, food production, and medicine. You have developed research skills as you explored the web sites given, and identified the relevant information to answer the set of questions above. Do you think nanotechnology is going to play an important role in the future? How important do you think it is for scientists to continue to research nanotechnology?



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