Thanks to NANOTECHNOLOGY— the science of manipulating atoms and molecules to create useful materials and devices — we can expect a future loaded with tiny miracles. Really tiny: A nanometer measures one-billionth of a meter, meaning about one million of the lilliputian particles would fit on the dot of this i.

Big bucks will flow from this small but growing market, says Jack Uldrich, author (with Deb Newberry) of The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business (Crown Publishing Group). “Nanotechnology will impact every industry in large or subtle ways,” says Uldrich. Some examples:

Getting around: New nanoparticles in fuel will greatly improve fuel efficiency. Materials for cars and airplanes will be lighter and aerodynamically superior.

Smarter packaging: Nanoclays and nanocomposites will revolutionize the $480 billion global packaging industry. Lighter, almost impermeable containers will lengthen shelf life for foods and beverages.

Personalized medicine: Doctors will soon use “nanosensors” for much earlier detection of disease, Uldrich says. By the end of this decade, about half of all pharmaceutical products will be based on nanotechnology, allowing doctors to tailor medicines to a patient’s biochemical makeup rather than use the “carpet bombing” approach of today’s treatment regimens.

“The human body operates at the molecular level, so the best way to treat it is at the molecular level,” Uldrich says.