NANO? I had to look it up in the dictionary. It is pronounced nan - oh and it is a prefix "denoting a factor of ten to the minus nine power."

This means that a "nano" thing is so small that it barely exists at all. A nano-metre is a billionth of a metre, for example, or even smaller.

The amazing news is that now nano-material is being produced in Farnborough and it may well be the beginning of a new industrial revolution. A small bag of nano-stuff costs hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of pounds.

A new Farnborough company, Qinetiq Nanomaterials, has been set up on a secure site and is producing a range of metallic and inorganic nano-products at a rate of about 3 - 4 pounds an hour.

Commercial director Mike Pitkethly said: "The nanotechnology revolution is one that will increasingly impact on all our lives in one way or another and we will see it steadily realise its true potential."

The firm has already opened a branch office in Tokyo and expects Japan to be one of the fastest growing markets for the material. Currently there are 25 projects being run at Qinetiq looking at potential applications for nanotechnology, and one patent on explosives materials has already been filed.

Said Mike Pitkethly: "The groundwork is well in place. With the production facility up and running, it's now full steam ahead."

The boffins say that in a world of nano-technology, tiny machines could circulate around the body, unclogging fat deposits from our arteries. Nano-cling film could tell us when food was past its "eat by" date. Nano-car bodies would be rust free. Ultra lightweight nano-armour could protect our soldiers. And those are just a few applications of the amazing materials that are being developed. Scientists suspect that the potential may be virtually limitless.

l Above: a spoonful of some of the nano-material produced in Farnborough.