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Nan Miles is a unit of measurement. It is equal to one millimeter. This can be expressed as 1 nm or 10-9 m. One nanometer equals one billionth of a meter, or 0.000000001 meters. This is commonly used when discussing modern electronic circuits and devices, where surface area needs to be measured in micrometers, but length needs to be measured in millimeters or kilometers (based on the size of the device). Older measurements for electromagnetism would often use the centimeter and inch system where a millimeter was 10 centimeters (or 10 inches).

Nanometers are used in the metric system, but can also be expressed in other units of measure. The International System of Units (SI) unit of length is the meter, equal to approximately 1,000,000 nanometers. The prefix nano- is often used to signify any measurement that is one millionth of a unit (other small numbers like pico-, Kilo-, and Mega- are usually not abbreviated). For example, a micro second or nanosecond (10-9 or 10-13) does not have an abbreviation. A micrometer or micron is 1/1,000 inch (1 mm), but no abbreviation for this measurement exists.

How does this relate to the nanotechnology field? It is easy to think that just because there are ten times more atoms in a nanometer than in a meter, it must mean that molecules will be one nanometer in diameter. This would mean that the smallest possible molecule would be about 1/4th of a nanometer in diameter. That seems very wrong since molecules are much too big to be measured at that size! The correct answer is that atoms can be measured at many different sizes, and so an ideal way to describe molecular dimensions is by looking at weight or mass. If you have ever lifted or carried an object with your hand, you know how heavy it feels compared to your arm.