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Dimensions of Nanomaterials

(Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Watsonville, California - Jeffrey M. Wang)


 - Overview

Nanomaterials are composed of structures at the nanoscale, usually achieved via specifically designed self-assembly processes. They acquire unique electronic, optical, mechanical, magnetic, catalytic properties, which cannot be achieved without their nano-architecture. Such advanced nanomaterials provide unprecedented opportunities for tuning their properties in a very broad range. It is an actively developing field of modern research with a wide spectrum of applications ranging from nanoelectronics and energy harvesting to biology and nanomedicine. Advanced polymers and nanocomposites, battery materials and multifunctional materials, drug delivery and tissue engineering, bio-inspired and hybrid nanomaterials are just a few examples of research areas where advanced nanomaterials play an essential role.


- The Different Dimensions of Nanomaterials

Materials can have one, two or three dimensions in the nanoscale regime, which adds to the variety of phenomena that can be explored in nanoscience and technology. Although a broad definition, we categorise nanomaterials as those which have structured components with at least one dimension less than 100nm. This classification is based on the number of dimensions of a material, which are outside the nanoscale (<100 nm) range.

The main types of nanostructured materials based on the dimensions of their structural elements are: zero-dimensional (0D), one-dimensional (1D), two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) nanomaterials. 


  • In zero-dimensional (0D) nanomaterials all the dimensions are measured within the nanoscale (no dimensions are larger than 100 nm). Most commonly, 0D nanomaterials are nanoparticles.
  • In one-dimensional nanomaterials (1D), one dimension is outside the nanoscale. This class includes nanotubes, nanorods, and nanowires.
  • In two-dimensional nanomaterials (2D), two dimensions are outside the nanoscale. This class exhibits plate-like shapes and includes graphene, nanofilms, nanolayers, and nanocoatings.
  • Three-dimensional nanomaterials (3D) are materials that are not confined to the nanoscale in any dimension. This class can contain bulk powders, dispersions of nanoparticles, bundles of nanowires, and nanotubes as well as multi-nanolayers.


Low-dimensional nanomaterials with a size of 1–100 nm exhibit the distinctive features responding to their specific characteristics. Their features depend on the synthesis routes (top-down or bottom-up procedures) and the growth methods in solid, liquid, vapor and hybrid phases. Products are finally classified into 0, 1, 2, or 3 dimensional materials based on their sizes in each dimension (x, y, or z) measured in nanoscale size range. They are representative by nanoparticles, nanorods, nanofilms, and nanocrystals.



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