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时间:2005-06-03 16:00来源:互联网 提供网友:vipnoble   字体: [ ]

By Mario Ritter
Broadcast: July 29, 2003
I'm Bob Doughty1 with Phoebe Zimmermann, and this is the VOA Special English program, SCIENCE IN THE NEWS.
This week -- a special report on nanotechnology. It appears to be the next great area of scientific discovery.
Nanotechnology gets its name from a measure of distance. A nanometer, or nano, is one-thousand-millionth of a meter. This is the level of size of 1)atoms and 2)molecules3. Nanotechnologists work with materials this small.
Some experts credit the idea to physicist4 Richard Feynman. In nineteen-fifty-nine, this Nobel Prize winner gave a speech. He called it “There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” Mister Feynman discussed the theory that scientists could make devices smaller and smaller -- all the way down to the atomic level.
He did not use the word nanotechnology, but for years this idea remained only a theory.
At the time, no way existed to record structures the size of molecules. Not even electron microscopes could do the job. But as the nineteen-eighties began, two researchers found a way. Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer worked at a laboratory in Zurich Switzerland. They worked for I-B-M, the American company International Business Machines.
They invented what they called a scanning tunneling 3)microscope. This permitted scientist to observe molecules and even atoms in greater detail than ever before.
Once they could see microscopic5 structures, the next step for scientists was to find a way to create their own.
By the middle of the nineteen-eighties, scientists had increased their research on carbon. They were interested in the ability to use this common element to make nano-sized structures. Carbon had already been engineered in chemical reactions to make long 4)polycarbonite chains. Today, the result of carbon chemical engineering is everywhere -- in the form of plastic.
Scientists in the eighties wanted to create nano structures from carbon atoms. In nineteen-eighty-five, Robert Curl, Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley succeeded. They aimed a laser at carbon. This powerful light caused some of the carbon to become a gas.
The scientists cooled the gas to an extremely low temperature. Then they looked at the carbon material that remained. They found, among several kinds of carbon, a molecule2 of sixty atoms -- carbon sixty.
Carbon sixty is a group of tightly connected carbon atoms that form a ball. It is a very strong structure. This is because all the atoms share any loose 5)electrons that might take part in chemical reactions with other atoms. This kind of molecular6 carbon can also appear with different numbers of carbon atoms. There is also carbon seventy, for example.
Research has shown that carbon nano-structures even happen in nature. Scientist have found carbon sixty and carbon seventy structures in rock.
These kinds of molecular structures had been unknown to science. For their work, Robert Curl, Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in nineteen-ninety-six.
The next nano-structure developed came in nineteen-ninety-three. Japanese scientist Sumio Iijima of the N-E-C company developed carbon nanotubes. These nano-sized objects are really six-sided atomic structures connected to form a tube. They are extremely strong. Scientists believe that someday nanotubes could replace the carbon graphite now used to make airplane parts.
Soon after this discovery, researchers started to think about using nanotubes to build extremely small devices.
On May first of this year I-B-M announced that it had made the world's smallest light. Researchers used a carbon nanotube attached to a silicon7 base. They sent electrical charges down the tube. The reaction between the particles produces an extremely small amount of light. I-B-M says the 6)wavelength8 produced could be used in communications.
Nanotubes are not the only form of nanotechnology. Scientists are studying many different materials. The British magazine the Economist9 reported that a company has developed a special kind of cloth using nanotechnology. This cloth made by Gorix is treated with gasses under heat. This process gives the cloth the ability to carry electricity like metal.
The military is interested in such technology. Some researchers hope to develop what they call “smart cloth." Such cloth could transmit signals, record information or even change color.
Clothing makers10 have already found civilian11 uses for cloth made with nanotechnology. Their kind of material has the ability to resist dirt and always look freshly pressed.
Common products can be improved with nanotechnology. The sports equipment company Wilson has developed a new tennis ball using nano-science. The inside of the ball is covered with a thin layer of an extremely fine substance. A special clay with nano-sized particles makes the ball last longer and perform better. Today, the ball is used for the Davis Cup tennis competition.
Indeed, the possibilities of nanotechnology appear endless. Some researchers hope to create nano-sized devices that will enter the body to fight disease or replace lost body parts. Engineers hope nanotechnology will help industry make materials atom by atom. They also hope to use nano-stuctures to create materials that are lighter12 and stronger than ever before.
In electronics, we have already seen the work of nanotechnology. In two-thousand, the American company Intel announced that it had created a transistor13 only thirty nanometers in size. Transistors14 are small devices that control the flow of electrical current.
As if this was not small enough, I-B-M announced that its scientists had created an even smaller transistor -- only four to eight nanometers thick. Experts say this kind of technology will permit computers in the future to store much larger amounts of information.
Nanotechnologists have also been at work to develop brighter flat screens for such things as computers and wireless15 telephones.
However, scientific claims can sometimes move faster than the science behind them. In November of two-thousand-one, a scientist claimed to have created the smallest transistor yet. Jan Hendrik Schon (yahn HEN-drick shern) said it was the width of one molecule. He and his team worked for Lucent Technologies at its Bell Laboratories in New Jersey16.
The company later ordered on investigation17. The investigation found that some of the research came from earlier studies. It also found there was little evidence that the scientist developed what he had claimed.
Not everyone agrees that nanotechnology is a good idea. Bill Joy is chief scientist at Sun Microsystems in California. He says he fears that nanotechnology will be used for the war against terrorism. He says he believes it will be possible to develop microscopic robots that can build copies of themselves -- just like living creatures. He says such robots might change the balance of life on Earth.
Such a danger as Bill Joy imagines has already caught the interest of writers and moviemakers. There's a new movie called "Prey," based on a book by Michael Crichton, that could help influence what some people think of nanotechnology.
But supporters believe the current research will lead to great discoveries. Nobel Prize winner Richard Smalley is one of them. He says he believes that people like Bill Joy are simply wrong. At the same time, there are also efforts to establish new centers to study the possible side effects of nanotechnology. There is concern, for example, about sicknesses in factory workers who may breathe extremely small particles.
One thing is clear. Nanotechnology is receiving more financial support than ever.
In two-thousand-one, the administration of President Bill Clinton spent about two-hundred-eighty million dollars as part of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. For this year the Bush administration asked for more than seven-hundred-million dollars. The United States faces strong competition from the European Union and Japan.
Clearly there are big expectations for this science of the very small.
SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was written by Mario Ritter and produced by Cynthia Kirk. This is Bob Doughty.
And this is Phoebe Zimmermann. Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.

1) atom [5AtEm] n.原子
2) molecule [5mClikju:l] n.(化)分子
3) microscope [5maikrEskEup] n.显微镜
4) polycarbonite [7pCli5kB:bEnait]n.(化)聚硝酸甘油
5) electron [i5lektrRn] n.电子
6) wavelength [5weivleNW] n.(物)波长


1 doughty Jk5zg     
  • Most of successful men have the characteristics of contumacy and doughty.绝大多数成功人士都有共同的特质:脾气倔强,性格刚强。
  • The doughty old man battled his illness with fierce determination.坚强的老人用巨大毅力与疾病作斗争。
2 molecule Y6Tzn     
  • A molecule of water is made up of two atoms of hygrogen and one atom of oxygen.一个水分子是由P妈̬f婘̬ 妈̬成的。
  • This gives us the structural formula of the molecule.这种方式给出了分子的结构式。
3 molecules 187c25e49d45ad10b2f266c1fa7a8d49     
分子( molecule的名词复数 )
  • The structure of molecules can be seen under an electron microscope. 分子的结构可在电子显微镜下观察到。
  • Inside the reactor the large molecules are cracked into smaller molecules. 在反应堆里,大分子裂变为小分子。
4 physicist oNqx4     
  • He is a physicist of the first rank.他是一流的物理学家。
  • The successful physicist never puts on airs.这位卓有成就的物理学家从不摆架子。
5 microscopic nDrxq     
  • It's impossible to read his microscopic handwriting.不可能看清他那极小的书写字迹。
  • A plant's lungs are the microscopic pores in its leaves.植物的肺就是其叶片上微细的气孔。
6 molecular mE9xh     
  • The research will provide direct insight into molecular mechanisms.这项研究将使人能够直接地了解分子的机理。
  • For the pressure to become zero, molecular bombardment must cease.当压强趋近于零时,分子的碰撞就停止了。
7 silicon dykwJ     
  • This company pioneered the use of silicon chip.这家公司开创了使用硅片的方法。
  • A chip is a piece of silicon about the size of a postage stamp.芯片就是一枚邮票大小的硅片。
8 wavelength 8gHwn     
  • The authorities were unable to jam this wavelength.当局无法干扰这一波长。
  • Radio One has broadcast on this wavelength for years.广播1台已经用这个波长广播多年了。
9 economist AuhzVs     
  • He cast a professional economist's eyes on the problem.他以经济学行家的眼光审视这个问题。
  • He's an economist who thinks he knows all the answers.他是个经济学家,自以为什么都懂。
10 makers 22a4efff03ac42c1785d09a48313d352     
  • The makers of the product assured us that there had been no sacrifice of quality. 这一产品的制造商向我们保证说他们没有牺牲质量。
  • The makers are about to launch out a new product. 制造商们马上要生产一种新产品。 来自《简明英汉词典》
11 civilian uqbzl     
  • There is no reliable information about civilian casualties.关于平民的伤亡还没有确凿的信息。
  • He resigned his commission to take up a civilian job.他辞去军职而从事平民工作。
12 lighter 5pPzPR     
  • The portrait was touched up so as to make it lighter.这张画经过润色,色调明朗了一些。
  • The lighter works off the car battery.引燃器利用汽车蓄电池打火。
13 transistor WnFwS     
  • This make of transistor radio is small and beautifully designed.这半导体收音机小巧玲珑。
  • Every transistor has at least three electrodes.每个晶体管至少有三个电极。
14 transistors ff750796e6ff1fb40d6a8248a6485dc3     
晶体管( transistor的名词复数 ); 晶体管收音机,半导体收音机
  • In semiconductor receivers transistors take the place of vacuum tubes. 在半导体收音机中晶体管代替了真空管。
  • We often turn to this handbook for information on transistors. 我们常从这本手册查阅有关晶体管的资料。
15 wireless Rfwww     
  • There are a lot of wireless links in a radio.收音机里有许多无线电线路。
  • Wireless messages tell us that the ship was sinking.无线电报告知我们那艘船正在下沉。
16 jersey Lp5zzo     
  • He wears a cotton jersey when he plays football.他穿运动衫踢足球。
  • They were dressed alike in blue jersey and knickers.他们穿着一致,都是蓝色的运动衫和灯笼短裤。
17 investigation MRKzq     
  • In an investigation,a new fact became known, which told against him.在调查中新发现了一件对他不利的事实。
  • He drew the conclusion by building on his own investigation.他根据自己的调查研究作出结论。
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