Things You Should Know About Nanotechnology

It's a page from a nano-Bible (in Hebrew), as seen through an electron microscope (and magnified). Israeli researchers fit the whole Bible on a 0.5-square-millimeter silicon chip.

The Technion via Getty Images

Here's a riddle: What's so small that you can't see it, but it's smart enough to run your iPad or stop cancer? If your answer was a microscopic Dr. Sanjay Gupta, well, you'd be right -- in a weird way. But the answer we're looking for here is nanotechnology.

No matter how much we hear about it, nanotech remains something of a mystery. We can't see it, and we certainly can't feel it. Scientists say it will be in our medicine, but it's odd to think of something measured only in nanometers saving your life.

Are we using it in our daily lives and not even realizing it? Better yet, where is nanotechnology? Is the future happening right now, and we're not even aware of it? The answers to those questions go: yes, everywhere and sort of. Nanotechnology has found a place in consumer products, medical treatment, the food industry and so much more. In fact, it's becoming increasingly harder to keep track of where nanotech isn't. And the truth is that the technology's potential is nowhere near being reached. Many of the big breakthroughs are still being worked out in laboratories. And only some of the simplest forms of nanotechnology have really come to the marketplace.

So stick with us as we compile the nanoscale cheat sheet and check out some nanotechnology that may already be in your world and some that may be on the horizon.