I was talking to my mom the other day, about nanoparticles of course, and she said: “Wait a second! Are there different sizes of nanoparticles?? I thought nano was just nano! You know?”
Thanks for the question mom! 🙂
Refresher: nanoparticles are just spherical or nearly-spherical nanomaterials.
To answer my mom’s question: There are LOTS of different sizes of nanoparticles. Here is an animation I made showing 8 nanoparticles of different sizes—starting with a single atom just for comparison.
“Why did my Mom have that impression?”, I wondered.
After some pondering I realized that people like me are always saying things like, “nanoparticles are 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair!!!!” BUT, that statement can be pretty misleading, because they can also be 1,000 times smaller, or 5,000 times smaller, or 20,000 times smaller, etc. etc. The 10,000 number is just a convenient “average” people use.
Technically nanomaterials must have one dimension smaller than 100 nanometers, which is 50 times larger than the largest nanoparticle in the above animation! Depending on your screen resolution, that giant nanoparticle would be about 10 feet across!!! And in the space between the tiniest nanoparticle in that animation and the ten foot giant nanoparticle, there are countless different sizes! Imagine it!!!
So, nanomaterials can come in all different sizes! But don’t get overwhelmed yet, because I haven’t even mentioned how they can come in different shapes and be made of different stuff. Nanomaterials are SO DIVERSE.