The use and control of tiny matter is called nanotechnology, and these tiny matter are called nano-particles.
These nanoparticles are measured in nanometres, and a nanometre is a billionth of a metre (1x10 to the negative ninth power)
Anything that is 1-100 nanometre in size, is considered to be nanotechnology.
Some of these particles occur naturally, e.g. volcanic ash, others occur by accident, e.g.during the combustion of fuels, and many occur by design.
Properties of Nanoparticles
Properties of a material are different depending on their size, for example, an object that is nano-sized may dissolve in water, however if it is a larger object, it won't be able to.
Forces of attraction between surfaces can appear very weak on a larger scale, however on a nanoscale, they are very strong.
This is because the surface area to volume ratio in nanoparticles is very large, and atoms on the surface are more reactive than the atoms in the centre.
So, larger surface area= more reactive
The Uses of Nanoparticles + harmful effects
Nanoparticles are currently used in:
Sports equipment- nanoparticles are used in tennis rackets, gold clubs etc... to make them stronger yet lightweight
Clothing- silver nanoparticles have been added to surgery masks and socks as they have anti-bacterial properties
Healthcare- nanotechnology is used in sun-screen as they offer protection and can be rubbed in so there are no white marks.
HOWEVER, due to the lack of information we have on the effects of using nanoparticles, some people are concerned that they may be able to enter the brain via the bloodstream and cause serious harm. Therefore, they believe more tests should be done on the effects before continuing to use them on such a large scale.