N is for Nanotechnology #atozchallenge

Posted April 16, 2013 in A-Z Challenge / 7 Comments

[‘Fullerene Nanogears’ by NASA, public domain image]

Today I’m continuing with the Blogging from A-Z Challenge hosted by Arlee Bird and his team of awesome bloggers. My theme is: Elements and features of speculative fiction and entertainment. So throughout April I will be blogging about characters, objects and themes that appear in sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian series. Today’s post is all about Nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology or ‘nanotech’ is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. It has a variety of potential applications, including industrial, medical and military and governments have invested billions of dollars in its research. It may be used to create many new materials and devices. However, it raises concerns about the toxicity and the environmental impact of nanomaterials and speculation about various doomsday scenarios. Nanotechnology frequently appears in modern science fiction as a plausible explanation for things like robots and the regeneration of objects and organisms.


  • In the 2004 film I, Robot, nanites are used to wipe out artificial intelligence in the event of a malfunction and are depicted as a liquid containing tiny silver objects.
  • In the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, ‘micromachines’ are used as a form of treatment against complex diseases after a subject undergoing cyberisation.
  • In  Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Borg use nanomachines, referred to as nanoprobes, to assimilate individuals into their collective.
  • On the comedy TV show Red Dwarf, nanobots are created to be a self-repair system for androids like Kryten as they can also change anything into anything else. They are able to rebuild Red Dwarf, resurrect the dead crew and restore Dave Lister’s missing arm.
  • A ‘nanovirus’ occurs in Stargate Atlantis.
  • In Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001), a criminal blows up a tanker trunk containing a nanobot virus that instantly kills thousands.
  • In the 2009 film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the main plot is to save the world from a warhead containing deadly nanobots called the ‘Nanomites’, which if detonated over a city could destroy it in hours.

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7 responses to “N is for Nanotechnology #atozchallenge

  1. Nanotechnology is one of those things that I always think sounds really cool but totally goes over my head. I really like I, Robot and of course Star Trek. I don't think I've read a single book with Nanotech before though…

  2. @Roland-yeah how awesome would that be? Shame they always go haywire.

    @Janeal-me too, I don't pretend to know exactly what it means-I'm no scientist by a long shot!

    @Daniel-I've not read that series but will look into it, thanks!

  3. chuchel

    Well nanotech isnt’t really a sci-fy anymore. 🙂 You have tons of products enhanced by different nanomaterials. For example look here. You gonna soon find out that it is already established in almost any area. )

    • Yes, I know nanotechnology is used widely already in various industries, as I describe in the first paragraph. It’s really quite exciting. It’s a very popular subject in science fiction books as it has so many potential future applications.

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