Nanomaterials is a field that takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology. It studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions. Nanoscale is usually defined as smaller than a one tenth of a micrometer in at least one dimension, though this term is sometimes also used for materials smaller than one micrometer.
On 18 October 2011, the European Commission adopted the following definition of a nanomaterial:
An important aspect of nanotechnology is the vastly increased ratio of surface area to volume present in many nanoscale materials, which makes possible new quantum mechanical effects. One example is the “quantum size effect” where the electronic properties of solids are altered with great reductions in particle size. This effect does not come into play by going from macro to micro dimensions. However, it becomes pronounced when the nanometer size range is reached. A certain number of physical properties also alter with the change from macroscopic systems. Novel mechanical properties of nanomaterials is a subject of nanomechanics research. Catalytic activities also reveal new behaviour in the interaction with biomaterials.
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