Today, nanotechnologies and advanced materials are already enabling completely new manufacturing processes and products ̶ with enormous economic, scientific and societal potential.
The term «nano» is derived from the Greek term «nanos» for dwarf. It is referring to very small dimensions: A particle with a diameter of one nanometer compares to the diameter of an orange like the orange to the diameter of the earth's sphere. Nanoscale materials can be used to achieve special physical and chemical properties, simply because of their high surface-to-volume ratio. The creation of nanostructures enables novel surface functions in sensor technology and optics, and nanostructured layers protect surfaces even under extreme conditions.
Nano dimensions became a hot topic in the history of technology from the 1980s onwards, initially in manufacturing technology for microelectronics. Soon, however, attention turned to special nanoscale materials such as nanoparticles or nanostructured thin films. The door to the world of nanotechnology was further opened by new analytical methods such as the scanning tunneling microscope, which was invented in Switzerland and later awarded the Nobel Prize. This made it possible to image the atomic structure of surfaces. Today, "nanoproducts" - whether consciously or unconsciously - are already an integral part of our everyday lives, and numerous fields of application benefit from nanotechnology.
With its focus on nanotechnologies, Switzerland has demonstrated foresight and early on seized an opportunity to develop competencies that today have a positive impact far beyond the country's borders. Switzerland as a technology nation owes its success in the field of nanotechnologies to three essential factors: the large number of competent universities and research institutions, its numerous innovative companies in key industries and the committed knowledge and technology transfer through institutions such as the Hightech Zentrum Aargau.