/nan'-oh-tek-no"l*-jee/ Any fabrication technology in which objects are designed and built by the specification and placement of individual atoms or molecules or where at least one dimension is on a scale of nanometers.
The first unequivocal nanofabrication experiments took place in 1990, for example with the deposition of individual xenon atoms on a nickel substrate to spell the logo of a certain very large computer company.
Richard P. Feynman's initial public discussion in 1959-12-29 (http://www.zyvex.com/nanotech/feynman.html) lead to the Feynman Prize for Nanotechnology (http://www.foresight.org/FI/fi_spons.html). Erik Drexler coined the term about 30 years later in his book "Engines of Creation", where he predicted that nanotechnology could give rise to replicating assemblers, permitting an exponential growth of productivity and personal wealth.
See also nanobot.