Ask a Scientist: Are There Naturally Occurring Nanomaterials?

2 minutes

Hello, my name is Nicole Steinmetz. I am an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

So nanomaterials are defined as materials on the nanometer size scale. So what is the nanometer size scale? Mathematically, "nano" is a prefix that denotes ten to the minus nine. So a nanometer would be ten to the minus nine meters. So you go from meter to millimeter to micrometer to nanometer. So these are incredibly small objects. And so are there any naturally occurring nanomaterials? The answer is yes. Our DNA is a nanoscale material. Proteins--protein assemblies are nanoscale objects. And even viruses are nanoscale materials. So in a way, you can think of a virus as a naturally occurring nanomaterial. And nanomedical engineers and biomedical engineers are actually now using viruses as nanocarriers to deliver medicines to specific cells and tissues within the body.


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Nano expert Nicole Steinmetz from Case Western Reserve University discusses naturally occurring nanomaterials. Part of the “Ask a Scientist” series.

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Runtime: 2 minutes

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