Examples of Nanoscale Objects

A closeup of a childs hair
A single strand of hair is about 2.5 nanometers wide.

Lynn Koenig / Getty Images

You probably know that a nanometer is 1/1,000,000,000 of a meter or 10-9 meters, but do you have a feel for just how small a nanometer is? Here are some examples of nanoscale objects, plus the length of common objects expressed in nanometers.

The Amazing Smallness of Our World

  • Your fingernails grow at the rate of about 1 nanometer per second.
  • Single water molecule–about 1.5 nanometers
  • A strand of human DNA–2.5 nanometers in diameter
  • Single hemoglobin molecule–5 nanometers across
  • Single bacterium–about 1,000 nanometers long
  • A strand of hair–about 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide
  • A sheet of paper–100,000 nanometers thick
  • An ant–5 million nanometers long
  • Human hand–100 million nanometers long
  • 7-foot tall basketball player–2 billion nanometers tall