Nanoparticles

Nanoparticles are structures, 1 to 100 nanometres (nm) in size, that usually contain only a few hundred atoms. This means that nanoparticles are larger than atoms and simple molecules.

Comparing the size of nanoparticles

Nanometres

The size of nanoparticles can be compared easily using the nanometre scale. For example:

  • an 8 nm nanoparticle is larger than a 4 nm nanoparticle
  • an 8 nm nanoparticle is larger than a single atom with a diameter of 1 nm

Standard form

The size of nanoparticles and other atoms and molecules can be compared using standard form.

The sizes get smaller going down this table:

UnitDecimal Standard form
1 cm0.01 m1 × 10-2 m
1 mm0.001 m1 × 10-3 m
1 μm0.000,001 m1 × 10-6 m
1 nm0.000,000,001 m1 × 10-9 m
curriculum-key-fact
1 nm = 1 x 10-9 m = 0.000,000,001 m.
Question

List these numbers in order of size, starting with the smallest.

ABCD
5 × 10-95 × 10-85 × 10-107 × 10-9

5 × 10-10

5 × 10-9

7 × 10-9

5 × 10-8

Question

If one carbon atom has a diameter of about 1 nm, estimate the length of a nanoparticle that is 10 carbon atoms long. Give your answer in nm and in standard form.

1 nm x 10 = 10 nm

10 nm = 10 x 10-9 or 1 x 10-8 in standard form