These images were taken with a Scanning Electron microscope (SEM). The surface of a specimen is scanned by a beam of electrons that are reflected to form an image. Color is added later.

“Plenty of Room at the Bottom” is the title of an article written by the American genius, Richard Feynman in 1959. He worked on the Manhattan Project that delivered nuclear weapons to our military before the end of World War II. In the 1980s he was the scientist who figured out why the space shuttle Challenger exploded. In “Plenty of room at the bottom” he visualized the core ideas of Nanotechnology 2 or 3 decades before it became a widespread big idea.

“It is a staggeringly small world that is below. In the year 2000, when they look back at this age, they will wonder why it was not until the year 1960 that anybody began seriously to move in this direction.” Richard Feynman


We’re talking about a bustling industry where objects are measured in nanometers and micrometers.

  • A nanometer =1 billionth of a meter and is represented by the symbol ‘nm.’. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
  • A micrometer = 1/millionth of a meter (symbol: μm) A sheet of paper is 70 to 180 μm thick.
  • One millimeter is equal to 1000 micrometers or 1000000 nanometers. A millimeter is equal to approximately 0.039370 of an inch. (mm)

In this video, we begin focused on a shrimp at a scale of 1 mm. We zoom down and in toward the top of the head where we see a microscopic sea plant, which eventually fills the screen. We close on a single bacteria, atop the seaweed zoomed from 1mm to 0.5um.

The remarkable chain drive below was built by the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories.  The distance between chain link centers is 50 microns. The diameter of a human hair is approximately 70 microns. This is one example of thousands of separate projects and experiments laying the foundation of Nanotechnology.