Nanotechnologists manipulate the tiniest of particles (nanomatter) to develop new or existing technology. They work with materials (organic or inorganic) usingspecialistdevices (nanotools) such as microscopes, on the atomic scale (the nanometre, which is one billionth of a metre).
They are also known as nanotechnology engineers.
Nanotechnology is a combination of science, technology and engineering which has a wide spectrum of applications spanning electronics, biotechnology, health and medicine, robotics and energy production. This could range from developing more effective sunscreens and more potent medicines, to more durable materials and faster electronic microprocessors.
You could be:
carrying out experiments for investigations, such as testing for minute amounts of pollution in air and water
working with genetic material, such as DNA fragments and proteins
creating new electronics, such as designing microchips that can hold higher amounts of information
creating high-performance materials and components by integrating atoms and molecules
identifying new applications for existing nanotechnologies
generating high-resolution images or measure force-distance curves, using technologies such as atomic force microscopy
developing production processes for specific nanotechnology products, processes or systems
conducting medical experiments and writing up detailed reports
applying to companies and organisations for funding for research.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Salaries for nanotechnology engineers can start at around £24,000 to £27,000 a year. Nanotechnologists working in research earn between £25,000 and £35,000 a year after completing their PhD.
Senior nanotechnologists working in industry earn between £35,000 and £45,000 a year.
Academic professors teaching at a university might earn around £60,000 a year.
You would work around 37-40 hours a week which might involve overtime to reach project deadlines if working in industry or research and development.
If you work in industry, you would be based in a laboratory.
You would wear a lab coat, and protective gear such as safety glasses.
You may have to work with other scientists from other disciplines to collaborate on projects.
You might have to travel overseas to work on projects.
Most people entering this profession have a Masters degree or doctorate in nanotechnology.
Relevant degree subjects include maths, physics, chemistry, electronics engineering, computer science and nanoscience.
Entry requirements for degree courses are usually 4-5 Highers including 2 or 3 from Maths, Chemistry and Physics. You need English and Maths at least to National 5. Individual course requirements vary so check with the institution.
The University of Strathclyde offers the Masters in Nanoscience. Entry requirements are a 2:1 or 2:2 Honours degree in Maths, Physics, Chemistry or related subject.
The University of Glasgow offers the Masters in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. For entry you need a 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. A 2:2 with 2:1 marks in core modules may be considered.
You may be able to get a paid studentship for a PhD course at a university or research institute.
You could work in a research centre (perhaps a university or government laboratory) or in industry. You could look for jobs on site such as New Scientist Jobs.