One of the most difficult things to understand about nanotechnology is to get a solid grip of exactly how small nanoparticles are. This article seeks to better explain this by comparing nano sized objects with common things.
Size of An Atom
In 1958 Kenneth Ford's wrote in his “The World of Elementary Particles” an explanation of the relative size of atomic particles. In this work he examines an atom with a nucleus 10-4 to 10-5 of the size of the entire atom. If the atom was 10,000 feet across it would be approximately the size of a major airport runway. A nucleus 10-4 times smaller would be about the size of a basketball, or at 10-5 times smaller, the size of a golf ball. Using this analogy we can visualise the enormous amount of free space within an atom – for an atom expanded to the size of an airport runway, the nucleus is between the size of a golf ball and a basketball place on the center of the runway.
Nano Sizes and Distances
Sizes at the nano level are incredibly small. If we consider the distance between the earth and the sun to be analogous to one millimetre, then the length of one nanometre is only the distance from New York to Boston.
Figure 1 illustrates some size comparisons from 1m down to the size of a hydrogen atom at 0.1nm.
Figure 1. Size comparison chart