What is a nanometer?
Answered by HowStuffWorks
  • HowStuffWorks


  1. It's one-billionth of a meter. To give you some perspective, a human hair tends to be between 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers in diameter. At this scale, even microscopic objects are gigantic. Light microscopes can't detect objects on the nanoscale -- we have to use special tools like scanning tunneling microscopes. Most cells are hundreds of nanometers in diameter, but some structures like certain viruses can be just a few dozen nanometers in length.

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