To start with some corrections to my previous post about nanotechnology: First, it was not George Smalley but William Shockley, one of the inventors of the transistor in 1947, who made the "amplification" analogy about the bale of hay attached to the mule's tail.
Second, I'm still struggling with the concept of the location of an unlocatable electron. The truth, it seems, is that the electron does very much have a position, but in the odd sense that there is a wave function describing its location at any particular time as a varying probability. (Just as a sine-wave-ish function describing a water wave has an amplitude that corresponds to the height of the water, a Schroedinger wave function describes the probability of an election being somewhere at a particular time.) That is, it may not be in our power to pinpoint where an electron is at any particular moment, but there are many areas where the electron is so unlikely to be that you can pretty much ignore the possibility. The areas of likely location may be more or less confined and comprehensible, such as the surface of a rather small, fuzzy sphere in an identifiable neighborhood.
On to more wonders about nanotechnology: I was surprised to read that all atoms, from tiny one-proton hydrogen to obese, unwieldy uranium with its 92 protons (we can ignore larger atoms, which are too unstable to stay together long), are roughly a tenth of a nanometer in diameter. Despite the difference in the size of their nuclei, all the atoms in the periodic table have an effective "size" that corresponds to the cloud formed by the outer layer of their electrons. The negatively charged electrons are all being sucked into toward the nucleus by their electrical attraction to the positive protons, but at the same time the electrons are fiercely repelling each other, so they stand off from the nucleus in the stable positions permitted by the mysterious laws of quantum mechanics. (The protons in the nucleus try to repel each other, too, but there's an attraction between protons called the "strong nuclear force" that, at extremely short distances, vastly overwhelms the repulsive electric force.) For whatever reason, the stable positions for the outermost orbiting electrons are pretty close to the same distance from the nucleus no matter how many of them are packed in below; there's an awful lot of empty space in there, and a very powerful electrical attraction keeping things tight.
It's the outer layer of electrons that concerns us most in daily life. Just about everything we normally experience as the properties of atoms has to do with their outer shell of electrons; that's where the phenomena of chemical bonding and the absorption or reflection of light mostly take place. That's one reason elements in the same column of the periodic table have such similar properties: the difference in atomic weight and number is often less important than the similarity in outer electron shells.
That brings us to artificial atoms. According to this terrific Wired article from several years ago, when we manufacture quantum dots, their electron clouds act a lot like ordinary atoms, despite their hollow cores. For instance, they can make pseudo-chemical bonds just as the electrons in normal atoms do. But artificial atoms need not simply mimic elements number 1-92 on the periodic table. Their electron shells don't necessarily have to be roughly spherical, as those of natural atoms are, because we are shaping them with a variety of forces that need not be as simple as the radially symmetric pull of a nucleus. That means that there may be bazillions of artificial atoms available to us, each with its own chemical and spectral behavior. What's more, we may be able, by doing something as simple as altering the shaping magnetic field, to alter the electron shell and therefore transmute one artificial element instantaneously into another.