More Science See Inside Atomic Toolbox: Manufacturing at the Nanoscale Scientists are building the next generation of atomic-scale devices By Mihail C. Roco Harry Campbell For decades industrial manufacturing has meant long assembly lines. This is how scores of workers—human or robot—have built really big things, such as automobiles and aircraft, or have brought to life smaller, more complex items, such as pharmaceuticals, computers and smartphones. Now envision a future in which the assembly of digital processors and memory, energy generators, artificial tissue and medical devices takes place on a scale too small to be seen by the naked eye and under a new set of rules. The next few years begin an important era that will take us from manufactured products that simply contain nanotechnology—sunscreen with UV-blocking bits of titanium dioxide, as well as particles for enhancing medical imaging, to name two—to products that are nanotechnology. This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now! Select an option below: Buy Digital Issue Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access. ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2015 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.