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Metric prefixes

SI units are part of the metric system    . The metric system is convenient for scientific and engineering calculations because the units are categorized by factors of 10. [link] gives metric prefixes and symbols used to denote various factors of 10.

Metric systems have the advantage that conversions of units involve only powers of 10. There are 100 centimeters in a meter, 1000 meters in a kilometer, and so on. In nonmetric systems, such as the system of U.S. customary units, the relationships are not as simple—there are 12 inches in a foot, 5280 feet in a mile, and so on. Another advantage of the metric system is that the same unit can be used over extremely large ranges of values simply by using an appropriate metric prefix. For example, distances in meters are suitable in construction, while distances in kilometers are appropriate for air travel, and the tiny measure of nanometers are convenient in optical design. With the metric system there is no need to invent new units for particular applications.

The term order of magnitude    refers to the scale of a value expressed in the metric system. Each power of 10 size 12{"10"} in the metric system represents a different order of magnitude. For example, 10 1 , 10 2 , 10 3 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{1} } ,`"10" rSup { size 8{2} } ,`"10" rSup { size 8{3} } } {} , and so forth are all different orders of magnitude. All quantities that can be expressed as a product of a specific power of 10 size 12{"10"} are said to be of the same order of magnitude. For example, the number 800 size 12{"800"} can be written as 8 × 10 2 , and the number 450 can be written as 4. 5 × 10 2 . Thus, the numbers 800 and 450 are of the same order of magnitude: 10 2 . Order of magnitude can be thought of as a ballpark estimate for the scale of a value. The diameter of an atom is on the order of 10 9  m, while the diameter of the Sun is on the order of 10 9  m.

Metric prefixes for powers of 10 and their symbols
Prefix Symbol Value See Appendix A for a discussion of powers of 10. Example (some are approximate)
exa E 10 18 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{"18"} } } {} exameter Em 10 18  m size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{"18"} } " m"} {} distance light travels in a century
peta P 10 15 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{"15"} } } {} petasecond Ps 10 15  s size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{"15"} } " s"} {} 30 million years
tera T 10 12 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{"12"} } } {} terawatt TW 10 12  W size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{"12"} } `W} {} powerful laser output
giga G 10 9 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{9} } } {} gigahertz GHz 10 9  Hz size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{9} } `"Hz"} {} a microwave frequency
mega M 10 6 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{6} } } {} megacurie MCi 10 6  Ci size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{6} } `"Ci"} {} high radioactivity
kilo k 10 3 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{3} } } {} kilometer km 10 3  m size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{3} } " m"} {} about 6/10 mile
hecto h 10 2 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} hectoliter hL 10 2  L size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{2} } " L"} {} 26 gallons
deka da 10 1 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{1} } } {} dekagram dag 10 1  g size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{1} } `g} {} teaspoon of butter
10 0 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{0} } } {} (=1)
deci d 10 1 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 1} } } {} deciliter dL 10 1  L size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 1} } `L} {} less than half a soda
centi c 10 2 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 2} } } {} centimeter cm 10 2  m size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 2} } `m} {} fingertip thickness
milli m 10 3 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {} millimeter mm 10 3  m size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } `m} {} flea at its shoulders
micro µ 10 6 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 6} } } {} micrometer µm 10 6  m size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 6} } `m} {} detail in microscope
nano n 10 9 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 9} } } {} nanogram ng 10 9  g size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - 9} } `g} {} small speck of dust
pico p 10 12 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - "12"} } } {} picofarad pF 10 12  F size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - "12"} } F} {} small capacitor in radio
femto f 10 15 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - "15"} } } {} femtometer fm 10 15  m size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - "15"} } `m} {} size of a proton
atto a 10 18 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - "18"} } } {} attosecond as 10 18  s size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{ - "18"} } `s} {} time light crosses an atom

Unit conversion and dimensional analysis

It is often necessary to convert from one type of unit to another. For example, if you are reading a European cookbook, some quantities may be expressed in units of liters and you need to convert them to cups. Or, perhaps you are reading walking directions from one location to another and you are interested in how many miles you will be walking. In this case, you will need to convert units of feet to miles.

Questions & Answers

what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
AMJAD
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
how to synthesize TiO2 nanoparticles by chemical methods
Zubear
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
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Source:  OpenStax, Kinematics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 11, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11878/1.5
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