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Difference Between Micron and Nanometer

Two fundamental units of length used in the metric system to measure very small things are micron and nanometer. Micron is an obsolete unit of length which is mostly used across scientific and technological fields.

What is a Micron?

You must have already heard the term micron, particularly when you are selecting a filter like what micron rating should you select when it comes to a filter. Micron rating determines how many microns your water filter should be; in fact, it is an indicator of the ability of filter to remove contaminants based on the size of the particles. So, what is a micron? Micron is a fundamental unit of length which is the millionth part of a meter. So, you can say it is the smallest unit of measurement that is used to measure length. It is also called ‘micrometer’ which is a SI derived unit of length. For example, the size of bacteria is measured in microns.

                  1 micron = 1 μm = 10-6 m

                  1 micron = 1/1000 mm

What is a Nanometer?

Nanometer is yet another fundamental unit of length in the metric system that is equal to one-billionth of a meter (or 10-9). The prefix ‘nano’ itself means very small or minute. So, nano basically is a million times smaller than the smallest measure on a ruler. There are 1 billion nanometers in a meter. So, nano is a billionth of the size of a human. For example, a human hair is around 75,000 nanometers (or nm) in diameter which is as far as human can see with naked eye; a fingernail can grow up to 1 nm per second.

                  1 nanometer = 1 nm = 10-9m

                  1 nm = 1/1000 μm

Difference between Micron and Nanometer

Terminology 

– Micron is a fundamental unit of length which is the millionth part of a meter. Often goes by ‘micrometer’, it is the smallest unit of measurement that is used to measure length. Nanometer, on the other hand, is yet another fundamental unit of length in the metric system that is equal to one-billionth of a meter. The term ‘nano’ means very small and it is often related to extremely small particles.

Symbol 

– Micron, also called micrometer, is symbolized as ‘μm’ and is equal to 0.001 mm or about 0.000039 inch. Nanometer, on the other hand, is equal to one billionth of a meter and is symbolized as ‘nm’. There are 1 billion nanometers in a meter.

              1 micron = 1 μm = 10-6 m

              1 micron = 1/1000 mm

              1 nanometer = 1 nm = 10-9m

Examples 

– The average human cannot see anything smaller than 40 microns in size. A strand of human hair is around 75 microns or 75,000 nanometers in diameter; human red blood cell is about 6.2 – 8.2 microns or 6,200 – 8,200 nm across; the size of bacteria is about 1,000 nanometers or 1 micron.

Micron vs. Nanometer: Comparison Chart

Summary

Micron and nanometer are two fundamental units of length used to measure very small things. Micron equals to one-millionth part of a meter, whereas nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter. Micron is symbolized as ‘μm’ and nanometer is represented as ‘nm’. Micron is an obsolete unit of length which is hardly used around though.

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References :


[0]Phillips, Rob. Crystals, Defects and Microstructures. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Print

[1]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Visible_and_invisible_light.jpg

[2]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mahr_Micromar_40A_0%E2%80%9325_mm_Micrometer.jpg

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