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Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale, at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involving imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale.   

Matter such as gases, liquids, and solids can exhibit unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties at the nanoscale, differing in important ways from the properties of bulk materials and single atoms or molecules. Some nanostructured materials are stronger or have different magnetic properties compared to other forms or sizes or the same material. Others are better at conducting heat or electricity. They may become more chemically reactive or reflect light better or change color as their size or structure is altered.

Nanotechnology promises a wide range of opportunities for innovation in areas like biomedical devices, improved electronic devices, clean energy technology, and materials engineering. TURI's research program looks at two aspects of nanotechnology: its possibilities for producing safer alternatives to traditional materials, and its potential impacts on environmental and occupational health. Nanotechnology holds out potential for environmental improvement, along with the economic benefits of new products of higher quality and greater variety. At the same time, there are indications of potential harm from certain exposures and releases of engineered nanoparticles and it is essential to recognize, reduce and control these risks when they are present.