Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology works with materials, devices and other structures with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres. Quantum mechanical effects are important on this quantum-realm scale.

Nanotechnology as a spectrum of evolving techniques has a revolutionary impact on the areas of new materials, ICT and healthcare. It will also become crucial in the forest-based sector. Conventional woodworking relies mainly on the macro-scale properties of wood. In papermaking, processing takes us to micro-scale structures, as fibres are separated from wood and then reassembled. Beyond that it is natural to start looking for nano-scale applications. For example, nanofibrillar cellulose (NFC), with its exceptional properties, will be used to develop innovative lightweight bio-composite materials for car-body parts and other applications.
Nano-pigments will be developed to generate functional surface structures that for example can change colour, block UV radiation to preserve the wood underneath, or absorb objectionable chemicals such as formaldehyde in wood composites.

(Photo by iStock Photo)

Multi-walled carbon nanotube (Photo by iStock Photo)

Self-healing and self-cleaning wood and wood-based panel surfaces are also attractive research objectives. Combined with a better understanding of wood biology, nanotechnology will also provide solutions to protect wood products from biological activity such as parasites and mould. The forest-based industries will utilise nanotechnology to improve the chain of custody of forest-based products as well as of nano-materials themselves. High priority will be given to health and environmental aspects of the production, use and recycling of nano-materials.
Nanotechnology in the form of new technical research appliances may also assist in other research areas such as in-depth plant physiology and ecosystem analysis.