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The term picotechnology has two related meanings, both involving the manipulation of matter on a length scale less than one nanometer.
In nanotechnology, picotechnology is a term used by some researchers to refer to the fabrication of structures where atoms and devices are positioned with sub-nanometer accuracy. This is important where interaction with a single atom or molecule is desired, as the strength of the interaction between two atoms (for example, an atom in a probe tip and an atom in a sample being studied) varies exponentially with separation distance, and is sensitive to changes in position on the order of 50 to 100 pm.
In future studies, picotechnology is a term used by some futurists to refer to structuring of matter on a true picometer scale. This typically is described as involving the alteration of the structure and chemical properties of individual atoms, typically through the manipulation of energy states of electrons within an atom to produce metastable (or otherwise stabilized) states with unusual properties. Manipulation of Rydberg atoms can be considered a form of picotechnology of this type, though the term is arguably a misnomer in this case, as the size of a Rydberg atom is far larger than even a nanometer.
- Weinacht, T.C., Ahn, J., and Bucksbaum, P.H. (22 June 1998) Measurement of the Amplitude and Phase of a Sculpted Rydberg Wave Packet. Physical Review Letters pp. 5508-5511 v. 80 no. 25
- Picotechnology at the Nanosciences group at CEMES, France.