Unique features of the nano-scale

  • Stephen J. FonashEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Unifying Concepts for Nanoscience and Nanosystems: 20th Anniversary Issue


Ten features that uniquely arise at the nano size range are discussed. These include those based on the obvious—the physically small size and concomitant large surface to volume ratio features. Importantly, they also include more subtle features that emerge at this scale including self-assembly possibilities, quantum confinement and tunneling, wave-particle duality, and plasmonic behavior. In addition, the list of ten encompasses very curious features that can manifest themselves at the nano-scale. These include enhanced friction and striction due to the Casimir “force” coming from quantum fluctuations as well as zero mass Dirac electrons which can arise from relativistic effects. The presence of Dirac electrons can result in very unusual material properties including ballistic charge transport, unusual Hall effects, enormously high carrier mobilities, and topologically dependent phases. The latter includes topological insulators, nano-materials characterized by having carriers with spin-momentum locking. A second type of nano-scale fluctuation behavior is also on the list of ten unique features of the nano size range: thermal fluctuations. These result in the statistical fluctuations around an average distribution becoming more observable thereby blurring the second law of thermodynamics at the nano-scale.


Thermal fluctuations Quantum fluctuations Quantum confinement Relativity Dirac electrons Self-assembly 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


  1. Acun A, Zhang L, Bampoulis P, Farmanbar M, van Houselt A, Rudenko AN, Lingenfelder M, Brocks G, Poelsema B, Katsnelson MI (2015) Germanene: the germanium analogue of graphene. J Phys Condens Matter 27:443002. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Capasso F, Munday J, Iannuzzi D, Chan H (2007) Casimir forces and quantum electrodymanical torques: physics and nanomechanics. IEEE J Select Topics Quantum Electron 13(2):400–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Castro Neto AH, Guinea F, Peres NMR, Novoselov KS, Geim AK (2009) The electronic properties of grapheme. Rev Mod Phys 81(1):109–162. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Crommie MF, Lutz CP, Eigler DM (1993) Confinement of electrons to quantum corrals on metal surface. Science 262(5131):218–220. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Einstein A (1905) Über die von der molekularkinetischen theorie der wärme geforderte bewegung von in ruhenden flüssigkeiten suspendierten teilchen. Ann Phys 17(8):549–560. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fonash SJ, Van de Voorde M (2018) Engineering, medicine and science at the nano-scale, 1st edn. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim ISBN: 978-3-527-69291-0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gadde S, Rayner KJ (2016) Nanomedicine meets microRNA: current advances in RNA-based nanotherapies for atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 36(9):73–79. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gibby WA (2005) Basic principles of magnetic resonance imaging. Neurosurg Clin N Am 16:1–64. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jarzynski C (2011) Equalities and inequalities: irresversibility and the second law of thermodynamics at the nanoscale. Annu Rev Conden Matter Phys 2:329–351. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mørup S, Frandsen C, Hansen MF (2010) Magnetic properties of nanoparticles. The Oxford handbook of nanoscience and technology, vol 2, 1st edn. Ch. 20. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 713–744. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Oka H, Ignatiev PA, Wedekind S, Rodary G, Niebergall L, Stepanyuk VS, Sander D, Kirschner J (2010) Spin-dependent quantum interference within a single magnetic nanostructure. Science 327(5967):843–846. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Otto DP, de Villiers MM (2013) Why is the nanoscale special (or not)? Fundamental properties and how it relates to the design of nano-enabled drug delivery systems. Nanotechnol Rev 2(2):171–199. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Papaefthymiou G (2009) Nanoparticle magnetism. Nano Today 4:438–447. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Piazza L, Lummen TTA, Quiñonez E, Murooka Y, Reed BW, Barwick B, Carbone F (2015) Simultaneous observation of the quantization and the interference pattern of a plasmonic near-field. Nat Commun 6(6407).
  15. Sakimoto KK, Wong AB, Yang P (2016) Self-photosensitization of nonphotosynthetic bacteria for solar-to-chemical production. Science 351(6268):74–77. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Wang J, Deng S, Liu Z, Liu Z (2015) The rare two-dimensional materials with Dirac cones. National Science Review 2(1):22–39. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Zhang LZ, Wang ZF, Wang ZM, Du SX, Gao HJ, Liu F (2015) Highly anisotropic Dirac fermions in square graphynes. J Phys Chem Lett 6(15):2959–2962. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Nanotechnology Education and UtilizationPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations