In 1959, acclaimed physicist Richard Feynman introduced the world to a new frontier in science with his classic lecture at a meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology, There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom.

Grand swaths of terrain await exploration, the Manhattan Project physicist proposed, if we look to the smallest scale imaginable. With this now oft-quoted speech, Feynman launched nanodreams in hundreds of creative minds: Oh, what we could do if we could only get small. We mean really small, as in nanometers. (Consider that a human hair is about 90,000 nanometers wide.)

Today, Case Western Reserve researchers are living those dreams. Some are shaping weapons against cancer, unlocking mysteries of the living cell, deriving a new method to test for Ebola and developing a process to build tiny devices for wearable electronics.

There is plenty of room at the bottom, bumping along with the atoms—and our scientists are there, mapping its vast regions.

Stories by Jenni Laidman

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The Nano Frontier

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